Malaga at Christmas 2023: Your Festive Handbook

Spending time in Malaga at Christmas is an experience of a lifetime. There are spectacular shows, parades, concerts, and music to enjoy. Additionally, you can stroll around various Christmas markets, shop for souvenirs, and savor seasonal treats and cuisines. In addition, the fun does not stop there. Actually, the holiday celebrations go on until New Year’s Eve, and even extend a few days after that. Fall in love with this iconic city and find out the best things to do in Malaga at Christmas 2023.

1. Malaga at Christmas 2023

Christmas decorations on the Christmas tree - baubles and horses
Christmas decorations on the Christmas tree

As early as November 24, the city lights up with twinkling lights with the tradition of Malaga Lights Day. This marks the unofficial start of Christmas at Malaga and is followed by a string of public holidays. Moreover, on December 6, locals celebrate El Día de la Constitución (Day of the Constitution). This is followed by El Día de la Inmaculada Concepción (Immaculate Conception Day) on December 8. The season usually ends on January 6, which is Three Kings Day.

Throughout these weeks, Malaga at Christmas comes alive with sparkling events, colorful decor, and joyful activities. Despite the bustle, you can take a stroll through the Malaga Botanical Garden, if you want a rather relaxing Christmas experience. Therefore, you can appreciate how the plants and trees are adorned with majestic lights. The theme for the decor is Angelic: The Kingdom of Christmas Angels this year.

To appreciate the roots of the Christmas celebration, you can visit any of the 60 Nativity Scenes (Belenes) scattered all over the city. These include the Town Hall and Malaga Cathedral. These scenes are also representations of the birth of Jesus. Moreover, some of them feature elaborate effects such as running water and life-like figures.

2. Malaga at Christmas 2023: Things to Do, Events and Schedules

Christmas tree and christmas lights at Malaga, Plaza de la Constitution and calle larios
Plaza de la Constitution at Christmas | Credit: Els

There are tons of events and schedules lined up in Malaga at Christmas 2023. Therefore, you’ll never run out of things to do in Malaga at Christmas this year. You can choose amongst the Malaga Christmas Lights, cathedral shows, the Three Kings Parade, and Christmas ballet. While each activity caters to a different kind of audience, most of them are family-friendly. Read on to learn the schedules of these events and to learn specific activities to do in each place.

2.1. Malaga Christmas Lights 2023

One of the most special Christmas events in the city is the Malaga Christmas Lights and sound shows. This show takes place at Calle Larios three times a day (at 6:30 p.m., 8:00 p.m., and 10:00 p.m.) from November 24 to January 6. The best thing about this show is that it is free. However, once you experience this event, you’ll surely look forward to Malaga Christmas Lights every year in Malaga at Christmas in 2023. During the show, you’ll be able to witness the special LED lights “dance” to the tune of “Jingle Bells.” There are also four-meter celestial angels towering over Calle Larios. A single show lasts approximately two to three minutes.

2.2. Malaga Cathedral Shows

Each year, the south side of the famous Malaga Cathedral’s tower lights up with an amazing video mapping projection show for Christmas. This year’s video-mapped story is based on a fairytale: Angel of Light. This story is about the adventures of two characters named Angel and Luz. Angel aims to find Luz and return her home to “light up the hearts” of the people of Malaga. The whole event lasts for about eight minutes and happens every evening at 6:45 p.m., 8:00 p.m., and 10:00 p.m. Moreover, anyone can watch it for free.

Also, Malaga Cathedral is in the center of the Old Town, so it is very easy to get there. You’ll just need to walk for five minutes from Plaza de la Constitution, the central square of the old town. Don’t forget to take a picture to remember your visit to this iconic church!

2.3. Three Kings Parade in Malaga at Christmas 2023

Another magical night of the year happens in the late afternoon of January 5, which marks the Three Kings Day in Spain. At this time, locals and visitors crowd around the center of the city to witness another important and special Christmas event. In 2024, the Kings spend the night at the Alcazaba Fortress and travel to the City Hall. As the clock strikes 6:00 p.m., they join the parade around the city center, making their way down the Paseo del Parque and into the downtown area. 

The Three Kings Parade is the largest in the province of Malaga at Christmas, and it is free. It features a lot of carriages, marching bands, and giving away of candies among the crowd. Additionally, it is an exciting event for both adults and children, mostly because of the sweets being given away. 

2.4. Malaga Christmas Ballet

If you love theater and classical music, you’ll enjoy watching the Christmas Ballet in Malaga. “The Nutcracker” is a Russian State Ballet which is one of the most popular in its genre in the world. Its colorful geography, intricate costume design, excellent representation of characters, and captivating music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky all combine to make it one spectacular show. This ballet in Malaga at Christmas takes place on December 29 at 8:00 p.m. in the Teatro Cervantes de Malaga. This theater is also downtown, around seven minutes by foot from Plaza de la Constitution.

Swan Lake” is another masterpiece Russian State Ballet which is also composed by Tchaikovsky. This performance presents the famous love story of a prince named Siegfried and a young woman called Odette, who was turned into a swan through a magic spell. You can witness this impressive performance on January 7 at 7:00 p.m., also at Teatro Cervantes de Malaga. Ticket prices for both shows range from €16 to €48, depending on your seat within the theater.

3. Concerts During Christmas at Malaga in 2023

Malaga, Spain - December 24, 2017. Christmas light show in the centre of Malaga
Calle Larios Christmas Lights in Malaga (2017)

If you love contemporary and festive music, you can attend different concerts during Christmas at Malaga in 2023. These include the Candlelight Navidad, Flamenco Christmas performances, a Christmas gospel concert, the Carol Service, and the Municipal Band’s concert. Read on to know which one suits you best, how to reach the venues of these events, and how much would tickets set you back. 

3.1. Candlelight Navidad

Candlelight concerts offer a unique and original musical experience through their immersive and sensory musical atmosphere created by the dim light of candles. This event also takes place on December 23 at 8:30 p.m. at the Carmen Thyssen Museum at the center of the Old Town, about five minutes by foot from Calle Larios. Kids eight years old and above can attend this event, and teenagers below 18 years old must be accompanied by an adult. The ticket costs €24 for each person.

3.2. Flamenco Christmas Music

Flamenco is a huge part of Andalusian culture, so evidently, it’s worth it to see at least one of its kind when you are in Malaga at Christmas. The regular flamenco performance is captivating in itself. Nevertheless, it becomes even more magical during Christmas. Spanish call this “zamboba.” In a flamenco zamboba, Christmas songs come to life through adaptations of different styles of music, such as tango or rumba.

The first show, directed by Malaga-based singer Alejandro Estrada, takes place on December 9 at 8:00 p.m. The second show is on December 19 at 8:00 p.m. It features the company of Antonio de Veronica y Saray Cortes, which has performed at the main theaters in Spain and other countries like England and Argentina. Lastly, there’s another show on December 23 at 8:00 p.m., this time, to be performed by the company of Flamenco Manuel de la Curra from Jerez.

You can watch all the flamenco zambobas at the Teatro Cervantes in Malaga, in the northern part of the Old Town. This is a 10-minute walk from Alameda Principal or the Plaza de la Constitution. Ticket prices range from €12 to €36

El Corte Ingles Christmas storefront
Christmas shop window in Malaga

3.3. Christmas Gospel

For those who want to witness a performance that connects them to their spiritual roots in Malaga at Christmas, the New Orleans Gospel Stars concert is worth attending. This band is composed of 14 talented members who play the organ, a rhythm section, as well as wind instruments. They represent a community culture that promotes freedom of expression using their Afro-American musical tradition. Their new production, Grandes del Gospel for Christmas in 2023, also touches on the musical history of New Orleans, one of the most iconic cities of international music. Catch this fun and lively concert at the Teatro Cervantes on December 22 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets cost €12 to €36.

3.4. Carol Service

Fans of English carols will have a blast attending the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols at St. George’s Church on the grounds of the English Cemetery, opposite the bullring in La Malagueta. This church is part of the Diocese of the Church of England in Europe. Nonetheless, they do not only welcome those within the Anglican Communion. They currently also embrace other people, whether they are permanent residents, regular visitors, or holidaymakers. The service starts on December 15 at 7:00 p.m. and will be followed by sharing of mulled wine and mince pies.

3.5. The Municipal Band

If you plan to spend Christmas in Malaga, you definitely should not miss The Municipal Band’s concert. This performance is called “XXVIII Concierto Extraordinario de Navidad” (XXVIII Extraordinary Christmas Concert). It is a traditional Christmas concert that features festive music from all around the world. Moreover, you can see this event for free on December 17 at 7:30 p.m. in Iglesia de los Martires (Church of the Martyrs). This church is in the heart of Old Town, just behind the Carmen Thyssen Museum.  

4. Other Things to Do in Malaga at Christmas 2023

Christmas lights and ornaments are viewed outside of a home in Dyker Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn borough of New York, United States on December 6, 2022.
Christmas lights

Aside from strolls, light shows, parades, ballets, and concerts, there are also other things to do in Malaga at Christmas in 2023. One of them is shopping at Christmas markets and shops. If you’re a foodie, you can enjoy the delectable seasonal treats and cuisines that the city has to offer. Similarly, we also have recommended spots for those who want to take memorable pictures. In addition, check out some underrated activities for those who love cycling.

4.1 Malaga Christmas Markets

Grab a souvenir from any of the markets and shops in Malaga to serve as a memento of your Christmas vacation here. There are a lot of Christmas shops around the city where you can buy gifts, ornaments, clothes, accessories, handicrafts, and even traditional sweets. For instance, one of our top recommendations is the iconic Park of Malaga (Paseo del Parque) Christmas market, which has more than 90 stalls. Plus, its location is perfect, right next to the historic city center. Thousands of shoppers flock to this place each year for their Christmas purchases. This market is open every day from December 1, 2023, to January 6, 2024, from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

The Garage Market in Soho is another must-visit during Christmas in Malaga. Here, you can buy art, antiques, modern pieces, and other less conventional items. This market in Calle Tomas Heredia is also indoors, making it perfect for those who prefer to be shielded from the outside weather during their shopping session. It’s also very convenient,, as you can reach it on foot in around 10 minutes from the Old Town Center Square. It’s also open from December 6, 2023, to January 8, 2023, from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Lastly, the Christmas market in the Port of Malaga is one of the top shopping areas worth visiting during this season. It boasts more than 100 stalls selling an assortment of original gifts, decorations, crafts, and local delicacies. Shopping here is made even more pleasant with a majestic view of the sunset. If you’re coming from the Plaza de la Constitution, it’s about 20 minutes on foot. You can visit it from November 24, 2023 to January 6, 2023, and it’s open from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

4.2 Malaga Christmas Food

A visit to Malaga at Christmas would not be complete without the experience of trying traditional dishes and local street delicacies. Start your Christmas meal with a hearty soup called Sopa de picadillo. This is a short noodle soup with chicken, boiled egg, bits of serrano ham, and peppermint. A traditional Christmas menu here would usually include Carne mechada, a slow-cooked braised beef or pork. Another dish that is popular all year round is Lomo en manteca, which is pork loin cooked with lard, olive oil, sweet paprika, garlic, oregano, and laurel leaves.

For a fun dessert, look for Borrachuelos (rummy dessert), which translates to “drunkard” because of the two kinds of wines and anise liquor mixed into its filling. The ingredients also include “angel’s hair,” or pumpkin syrup strands. While they are fairly easy to prepare, it takes time to finish the pastry, making it a great choice if you want to bond with your loved ones while making this treat together. Another popular dessert is Bienmesabe, which is commonly made of citrus syrup, almonds, cinnamon, egg, huevos, canela, compuesto basicamente port almibar de cidra, and cake.

If you’re out and about, you will most likely encounter various Spanish Christmas sweets and snacks along the streets. One of them is a simple yet tasty treat called Mantecados, which is made with flour, sugar, and lard (manteca). Another treat to satisfy your sweet tooth is Turron, which is made of honey, eggs, sugar, and toasted nuts. We also recommend looking for Mazapan de Toledo, which are raw peeled almonds with sugar.

christmas lights at Calle Larios in Christmas at Malaga
Calle Larios in Christmas at Malaga

4.3 Malaga Christmas Trees

Immortalize your Christmas in Malaga by having your pictures taken with colorful and sparkling Christmas trees all over the city. You can also go street-hopping and compare the Christmas trees to see which one is the most beautiful for you. At the top of our list is the giant Christmas tree and colorful decorations along Calle Larios. This year, even the orange trees seemed to have joined in on the fun with their fairy lights.

If you’re passing by Calle Esperecia, don’t miss its amazing display of Christmas trees, lights, and iconic Cathedral. Moving on to Plaza de la Marina, check out its festive silver and gold tree which sparkles at night and lights that illuminate Paseo del Parque.

For those who want to see non-traditional Christmas trees around Malaga, start by visiting the one stationed at the entrance of the Contemporary Art Centre (CAC). There are also similar ones in front of the Cervantes Theatre, outside the Russian Museum, and in the Alameda Principal. While these trees have fairly muted colors, they make heads turn with their unusual designs.

4.4 Christmas Lights

Alternatively, you can also simply bask under the twinkling Malaga Christmas lights, like those along Calle San Juan. In Calle Esperecia, one end features chandeliers, while the opposite end has globe and bucket lights hanging from above. Paseo del Parque and Alameda also offer lovely lights that make for an enchanting and postcard-perfect photo. The central street has LED lights that stay on 24/7.

4.5 Misa de Gallo

If you want a spiritually-inspired Christmas experience, head over to Malaga’s cathedral to attend La Misa de Gallo, the traditional midnight mass at 11:00 p.m. Here, the bishop holds up an image of “el niño Jesús” as parishioners line up to kiss the forehead of the baby Jesus. The name of this mass translates to “the mass of the cockerel,” as legend recounts that the cockerel was the first one to see the newborn baby Jesus.

4.6 Christmas Bicycle Trip

Those with a more active or sporty lifestyle can try cycling to the Corralones, where you can appreciate traditional Andalusian communal housing complexes decked in Christmas glory. You can roam around the back streets and drop by Plaza Bravo. You can also ask the neighbors to show you their patios. Most of them will warmly welcome you inside. If you want to cross Europe’s longest wooden bridge, you can cycle 8 kilometers to the Guadalhorce Nature Reserve, which you can enter for free. Simply lock your bike at the entrance and enjoy a Christmas lunch picnic with the flamingos around the lagoons.

Other underrated activities that you can do on Christmas in Malaga include joining a night tour of the Alcazaba, taking a stroll at the beach, and sipping sweet wine at Alameda Principal. You can also visit a local museum to better appreciate the culture and roots of Malaga. If you’re into winter sports, you can go ice skating at the Corte Ingles rink. Ride a Ferris wheel to enjoy the spectacular view of lights from above, see butterflies in Benalmadena, or have coffee at a local cafe in between Christmas shopping sprees. No matter how old you are or where your interest lies, Malaga at Christmas will always have something that will grab your attention and help you enjoy your vacation.

Still unsure of what to do when vacationing in Malaga at Christmas? Check out our comprehensive guide to exploring Malaga in one day. If you’re still debating between Malaga and Barcelona, read our comparison article to help you decide on which is the better option for your Spanish holiday.

Do you need more information on the city? Browse Malaga’s official Tourism website or check out Malaga’s Metro Lines to learn how to plan out your vacation route.