Christmas is a magical time in many countries and Spain and Portugal are no exceptions. If you are planning on visiting during the winter season, don’t miss these 6 fabulous Christmas markets!
Christmas markets in Málaga
The Christmas market in Málaga starts already at the end of November. There you can find 90 stalls along the Paseo del Parque with food, toys, decorations for Christmas, New Year’s firecrackers and things to use as giveaways at parties, etc. The atmosphere is wonderful and the whole town is buzzing. In every corner, you can get a drink and a Christmassy snack.
In Soho also in Málaga, there is an indoor Christmas market called the Garage market which is artsier and contains antiques, arts, and crafts. It is called the Garage market due to being housed in a former garage, true London style.
The Christmas lights in Málaga are switched on on the last Friday in November and turned off again on January 5th.
Christmas market in Zaragoza
In front of the impressive building Basílica del Pilar, the yearly Christmas market, Mercado de Comercio y Artesanía, takes place. During the festive season when the Basílica is lit up and it is decorated it creates a very special atmosphere.
The market is organised by the artisans of the region and you can find all sorts of handicrafts and different kinds of local foods.
Next to the Basilica, opposite the market, a huge 1500 sq. m. Nativity scene is created. It is the largest in Spain. 50+ human-sized figures are placed to show the different scenes from when Jesus was born. In addition, there are also a large number of different animal figures, sheep, dogs, donkeys and many more.
It is built like a maze with narrow alleyways where you can look at all the different elements until you reach the centre where the visitors will meet Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus.
It is open and free to the public every day 11-2 pm and 4 – 9 pm during the Christmas season.
The whole village turns into a true winter wonderland with a Christmas theme. You can engage in winter sports such as skating on the ice skating rink, there is an artificial mountain covered with snow where you can ride a sleigh. There are also a huge Christmas tree that serves as a wishing tree where you can write down your wish on a piece of paper and hang it on the tree and hope for it to come true.
Christmas Markets in Madrid
In the capital of Spain there are several beautiful and charming Christmas markets. If you have a sweet tooth you mustn’t miss Dulce Navidad – Sweet Christmas. Plaza Isabel II, located in front of the Opera House in central Madrid, is decorated with all sorts of Christmas treats every December. Bakers, skilled sweets makers, and pastry chefs offer their specialties to the visitors. You can try fresh candied fruits, churros with chocolate, nougats, turron, caramelised nuts, marzipans and polvorones, roscón de Reyes, and many more. It may just be the tastiest Christmas market ever.
The market is open from 10 am to 10 pm on weekdays and until midnight on weekends and holidays from November 29 to January 10.
Christmas in Seville
The people of the third-largest city in the country, Seville, really love this time of year. The whole city is decorated with Christmas trees in every plaza, lights dangling in almost every street, and the street lamps are covered in garlands. Seville is the ultimate Christmas city in Spain.
The festive spirit is present everywhere in Plaza Nueva located not far from the impressive gothic cathedral of Seville. Each December, more than 70 artisans gather here to sell handmade crafts. And apart from the selling of crafts there is lots to eat and drink as well as looking at.
On almost every street corner you can stop and have some fire-roasted chestnuts, or castañas while admiring all the lights and decorations.
Since 2006, the plaza is pedestrian-only and it is a beautiful place to get a taste of the Christmas atmosphere.
Christmas markets in Barcelona
Barcelona is, of course, a city with several markets to chose from. Fira de Santa Llúcia is one example. It is of the oldest Christmas markets in Barcelona. It is also one of the largest Christmas markets in Spain being hosted in a plaza ahead of a gothic cathedral in Barcelona, on Avinguda de la Catedral. You can browse about 300 stalls selling everything you need and more. The festivities start on November 30.
While taking a stroll through the markets, keep an eye open to see if you can spot a Caganer. A caganer is typically a figurine depicting a peasant dressed in traditional clothes with his trousers down, doing number 2. The figurine is one, if not the most popular figurine in the Catalan nativity scenes. No one really knows what it stands for and there are theories of the emptying of the bowels being a symbol for fertilisation and good luck while other theories point to it being a way of bringing the mighty down as it is the most disrespectful figure placed in a holy scene. Regardless of why it is there, it is very popular.
Sometimes, the pooping figurine resembles a famous person, a politician, a soccer player or other celebrity. Normally, they don’t place the pooping figurine close to baby Jesus but rather somewhere hidden in a corner. It can be fun to see if you can spot one. If you like the tradition there is even an online shop dedicated to the caganers.
The Christmas market is open from November 27 till December 23, 10:30 to 8:30 pm.
Christmas Market in Obidos
In Portugal, Christmas celebrations are a little more subdued than perhaps in other countries. The big Christmas market tradition from Germany has been slow to catch on. And during hard economic times Portuguese cities have been know to save by not lighting the Christmas lights, something that may be unthinkable in other countries.
But there is no rule without an exception. The smallish town of Obidos, one hour north of Lisbon is the exception. In Obidos they go all in and transforms the whole town into a winter wonderland over the holidays.
There are Christmas shows, a Christmas walk, an exhibition, face painting and Santas Grotto. There is also an ice skating rink, an ice slide, and a fairground.
The village turned Christmas is on display Nov 29 – Jan 5.
Get into the holiday spirit by celebrating Christmas in the sun. Try new foods and perhaps do some last-minute Christmas shopping?