Christmas of 2018 was our first Christmas abroad. We had moved to southern Spain just 3 months prior. We were excited and looking forward to all the festivities in our new city!
As christmas started approaching we noticed all the lights going up, especially on Calle Larios. If you don’t know, Calle Larios is a very popular pedestrian street downtown Malaga. We didn’t know but Malaga is well known for its light show. Are you wondering what kind of light show? Well…not the typical lights here and there. These lights are synchronized with music and truly spectacular! Check out the video below:
Normally the lights get turned on for the first time the last Friday in November and go all the way until beginning of January. These lights play at different times: in 2018 they played at 6:30 pm, 8pm and 9:30pm. The design for this year was a cathedral style with two domes. It was stunning and nothing like we had seen before.
Throughout the city you can see lots of other lights and several large christmas trees. Also, a fun spot to visit during this time is “Plaza La Constitucion” they set up a stage and performances take place every night. All around downtown you can find lots of street performers and with that come lots of crowds. Be aware it gets quiet crowded at all times on Calle Larios, especially at night.
Christmas markets are something else you can enjoy while in Malaga during this time. If you are around the downtown area head over to Muelle Uno. This area gets decorated with little huts selling Christmas decor as well as other fun and beautiful items. Another market to visit is located along Paseo del Parque. Lots of stands with food, clothing, christmas decor and much more. Great to check while out for a night walk while enjoying the lights.
Spain is known for the Belenes which are nativity scenes. You can find big and elaborate ones along the city. We didn’t get to check them out but did hear they are pretty spectacular.
December 24th and 25th are very quiet in Malaga, most people are at home celebrating the holidays with their loved ones. Expect everything to be closed the 24th (after lunch time) and 25th (all day), from stores to restaurants. We wished we would have known that, we will definitely do more planning next year. We got stuck ordering Indian food which wasn’t great.
New Years Eve is another big celebration in Malaga. Many restaurants tend to be closed and only few stores are open. Spaniards are big into family so this is a time to enjoy at home with your loved ones. We decided to ring the new year in Calle Larios, lights and music fill this area. If you arrive early (around 11pm) go ahead and pick up your goodie bag. Yes that’s right, they give out goodie bags as well as a bag with 12 grapes.
Have you heard of the 12 grapes tradition in Spain? It’s a tradition or superstition, however you want to see it. Spaniards make sure to have 12 grapes next to them when it gets close to midnight. What do they do? Well, you are supposed to have all 12 grapes within the last 12 seconds of the year. If you are able to do this it means that you will have a great year ahead. TIP: make sure you buy the small ones.
We had heard about this tradition before New Years but we weren’t sure how popular it was. When the time started getting closer to midnight we saw so many people take out their bags or cups filled with 12 grapes as well as their bottles of champagnes. Once midnight hits the streets are filled with hugs, kisses, well wishes for the new year and lots of families. We really enjoyed this experience and highly recommend it.
I had read that fireworks take place in Malagueta beach. To be honest that was our first choice. Our original plan was to welcome the New Year while watching the fireworks. We thought we were going to be seeing lots of people at the beach celebrating but that wasn’t the case. When we got there around 11:15pm the street and beach was bare. About 2 other families and that was it. That’s when we then decided to head to Calle Larios.
You can always go check that area out but we don’t totally recommend it. Maybe we went to the wrong area which I doubt it.
If you are wanting to go party or have some drinks after midnight call around first. We know some bars were opening but charging an entrance fee. So again, check or call at least a few days before.
For New Years Eve most restaurants and shops open until 4 or 5 pm. Expect everything to be close on the 1st of January, plan ahead when it comes to food!
Overall, our first Christmas and New Years in Malaga was lovely. We like the fact that people get to enjoy it with family and close friends. We are looking forward to next year. We will definitely do more planning and have a better plan.
Hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and New Years,