Celebrations to look out for in January.
Alicante Alcoy - Three Kings Parade - January 5
Three Kings, which marks the arrival of the Three Wise Men on the night of the fifth of January, is celebrated throughout Spain. Traditionally it is the night that Spanish children receive their Christmas gifts, and is marked by a parade in nearly every town and city in the country.
But in the city of Alcoy the event is just a little bit more special. Alcoy is home to Spain´s oldest Three Kings Parade, which first began back in 1885, and also has a number of minor events leading up to the main celebration.
On the Sunday before the 6th there´s the parade of Les Pastoretes (Little Shepherds), when children dress up as shepherds to pay homage and offer gifts to the newborn Jesus. Then, on January 4, the Royal Emissary arrives in town to announce the forthcoming arrival of the Three Kings. On this day the children of Alcoy have a chance to make gift requests, as the Emissary is accompanied by "Les Burretes" , little donkeys laden with mailbags.
On the night of the fifth the Three Kings, Balthazar, Caspar and Melchior, arrive in the city to the sound of Christmas carols, heralded by torch bearers, riding camels loaded with presents.
Alcoy is around 45 minutes from the Drivalia Car Rental depot at Alicante Airport.
Palma - Three Kings Parade - January 5
People from all over the island come to the capital on the night of the fifth to enjoy the Three Kings Parade, which snakes through the streets of the city, usually setting off at 6 pm from the waterfront at La Llonja, and winding its way up to Plaza Cort. As in cities across the country the parade is made up of large floats for each of the three kings, as well as dancers, musicians and torch bearers. In keeping with the tradition, sweets (diabetic friendly) are thrown into the crowd.
Various Locations - Sant Antoni - January 16-17
Sant Antoni is the patron saint for farm animals, so the feast of Sant Antoni is an important date in the calendar for Mallorca´s rural towns and cities. There are celebrations in Santanyi, Artà, Pollença and Sa Pobla. These usually entail musical parades accompanied by devil characters that symbolise temptation and evil. Bawdy traditional songs are performed on these dates, normally around bonfires, while there´s also an ´animal blessing´ to protect farmers´ herds for another year.
Various locations - Three Kings - January 5
Parades are also held across the region, and all of the usual traditions are observed. For instance, on January 5 and 6 the Rosca de Reyes or King Cake will be sold at all bakeries. Many people order their cakes in advance, or brave the crowds to wait in line for as long as an hour to get their hands on these circular pastries that are decorated with candied fruit, quince and sugar. Inside the baker will usually place a small figurine, a baby Jesus or historically a dry fava bean. By tradition, whoever finds this item has to take it to the local church on the February 2, Candle Day.
The Kings make their arrival on the 5th in all kinds of different ways, depending on the location of the town. If it´s coastal, they´ll generally arrive by boat, but in landlocked cities they can even arrive by helicopter.
Barranda - Fiesta de las Cuadrillas - January 25
This celebration attracts thousands of people to the town of Barranda every year, and resembles a folk music "battle of the bands". Between 10 and 20 folk bands from across the country descend upon the town. During the morning they will play and dance amid the gathered crowds. After that there´s a face-off in which they try to outplay each other. Then in the evening they all reconvene in Barranda´s social club, where the party continues into the wee hours.
Such is the town´s connection to folk music that a museum on the subject opened in 2006, displaying a collection of more than 4000 musical instruments from around the world.
Barranda is around 90 minutes from the Drivalia Car Rental depot at Alicante Airport.