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The 5 most spectacular Three Kings' processions in Spain

King Melchior distributes candies to children during the Three Kings Parade in Granada. Granada Hoy

The Three Kings' processions, known as "Cabalgata de Reyes," constitute a unique and colorful conclusion to the Christmas period in Spain. This three-day celebration, taking place from January 4 to 6, is a time full of traditions, joy, and magic, with the Three Kings' processions being the culminating moment of these festivities. These are extraordinary spectacles that capture the attention of local communities and tourists alike. While there is controversy about the location of the first parade – some mention Alcoy, others point to Barcelona, and yet others to Granada – it is certain that they have become an authentic tradition concluding the holiday season.

These colorful, magical, and charming events not only celebrate the arrival of the Three Kings but also provide a unique way to conclude the holiday celebrations. Participants in the parades showcase elaborately decorated vehicles, and the Three Kings are often depicted in royal attire, distributing candies and gifts to children. It's not just an opportunity for fun but also a moment where the community comes together to celebrate. The Three Kings' processions become an unforgettable experience, creating a magical atmosphere for both those participating in the parades and those observing them from outside.

Children in Spain eagerly await the morning of January 6 each year when presents appear under the Christmas tree. Amid the excitement of the Three Kings' visit in every Spanish home, there is also joy in welcoming them to their own town. Children eagerly check if the Three Kings have arrived, ready for a long night of magical gift-giving. Each city prepares for this special day in its own style, and each parade exudes a unique charm, seeking innovation, preserving traditions, delivering surprises, or simply filling children's hearts with joy and dreams. These elements make the Three Kings' processions the most spectacular in Spain, creating an unforgettable holiday atmosphere.

Granada played a crucial role in the origin of the current Three Kings' parades. In 1912, Centro Artístico and a group of intellectuals decided to organize theatrical performances depicting the arrival of the Three Kings and a parade where toys were collected for children in difficult financial situations. This idea gained immense popularity and quickly spread to other Spanish cities.

Granada became a pioneer in this initiative, contributing to the development of a tradition that is now a significant element of holiday celebrations throughout Spain. The introduction of a charitable element, such as collecting toys for needy children, remains an integral part of these events, bringing both holiday joy and a spirit of social solidarity.

The parade organized in Madrid each year stands out for its diversity. In this year's edition, it will be a special tribute to grandparents, "who always bless others with their wisdom and generosity," as emphasized by the City Council. The Three Kings – Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthasar – travel on their distinctive carriages, surrounded by puppets depicting camels, angels, illuminated horses, and, of course, loyal palace attendants. This extraordinary spectacle focuses not only on paying homage to the Three Kings but also on appreciating the role and wisdom of grandparents, adding a unique dimension to this magical event, which is one of the most anticipated in Madrid.

Seville, known for its rich history and vibrant culture, also celebrates the festivities related to the Three Kings in a spectacular manner. During the solemn parade that traverses the city streets, over 3000 people participate, accompanying the Dried Kings along a 9.2-kilometer route, making it the longest in Andalusia. This event not only promotes tradition but also introduces an element of solidarity. On January 4th, the mayor hands over the keys of the city to the Royal Herald to allow entry. It is a symbolic gesture that confirms the important role of the Three Kings in bringing joy to the residents and spreading holiday magic throughout the city.

One of the most imaginative and modern parades in the entire country takes place in Barcelona. The Kings, arriving in a highly spectacular manner by ship to Moll de la Fusta, traverse the streets of Barcelona in the afternoon, spreading joy and candies to children gathered along the route. Each of the grand parade platforms is surrounded by a group of artists and performers from various theatrical disciplines, giving the event a unique charm.

This parade prides itself on its history, claiming to be the first of its kind in Spain, initiated in 1855, although the regularity of celebrations took shape only in 1898. This unique celebration not only honors tradition but also presents a modern approach to the Three Kings' festivities, combining a classic atmosphere with innovative artistic elements.

In Alcoy, the tradition of celebrating the Three Kings consists of three significant events. A week before January 5, Les Pastoretes begins, a carnival procession of children dressed as shepherds who parade and distribute gifts. On January 4, the Pregó del Tío Piam takes place, where this character announces the arrival of the Royal Ambassador and presents the literary composition 'El Bando,' while children drop their letters into special boxes.

The ultimate and most solemn moment is the celebration on January 5, during which the main parade takes place. Along the route, musicians and lantern carriers appear, and pages climb onto house balconies using long ladders. The true hero of this event is Baltasar, known as 'el Rei Negre,' accompanied by his pages, 'els Negres.' This magical festival in Alcoy represents a harmonious blend of tradition, creativity, and joy, attracting participants from the entire region.

The Three Kings' parades in Spain bring a wonderful mixture of tradition, creativity, and holiday joy. From the festive atmosphere in Madrid, where each platform tells its story, to the fantastic spectacles in Barcelona, where the Kings arrive by ship, every Spanish city contributes its unique touch to the celebrations.

Granada plays the role of the starting point for this tradition, and Seville becomes a lively arena during its festivities. In Alcoy, the three-day celebration comprises diverse events, while Barcelona dazzles as one of the most modern cities in organizing parades.

After the festive celebrations, many Spaniards return to normalcy, and the holiday season officially comes to an end. Shops and businesses, which might have been closed during the holidays, return to their regular operating rhythm, and community life gradually resumes its daily routines.


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