The Three Kings Parade, or the Cabalgata de Reyes, is one of the most important events in the Spanish calendar due to the significance of the Three Kings Day for the Spanish. Locally known as El Dia de los Reyes, this day is celebrated on January 5 and 6. January 6 is the official Three Kings Day, which is the day children open their presents and adults exchange gifts. The Three Kings parades are held on January 5, as a way to welcome the Three Kings to the cities. Moreover, the Three Kings Day is almost more important than Christmas. Therefore, it is celebrated with grand parades in all Spanish cities, from Madrid to Alicante. This article gathered the cities known for their grand Three Kings Parade 2024 celebrations. So, read on to discover more about the parades in different Spanish cities, as well as their schedules and routes.
1. Significance of the Three Kings Day in Spain
Spanish-speaking countries like Mexico, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Spain, and Cuba predominantly celebrate the Three Kings Day, despite its roots as a Christian holiday. In addition, France, Poland, and some Latinos in the United States also celebrate Three Kings Day.
The day is about the biblical inception of the 3 Kings, mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew. According to the passage, the three wise men (also known as the three Magi) followed a star to go to Bethlehem and found the infant Jesus. Caspar, Balthazar, and Melchior, the three wise men, presented gifts of frankincense, myrrh, and gold to Jesus. The frankincense presented by one of the Kings is a type of incense. It represents Jesus’ divinity as the Son of God. The myrrh, which is an oily fluid, indicated his mortality. On the other hand, the gold represents wealth and power, symbolizing Jesus’ royal status as the King of the Jews.
The Journey of the Three Kings is a symbolic revelation of Jesus as the Savior, which is why it holds a significant place in Christianity. However, in addition to its historical significance, the Three Kings Day also has another meaning. This day also indicates the end of the Christmas season in Spanish-speaking countries. Therefore, with the Parade on January 6, the Christmas period is considered to be officially over.
2. 2024 Three Kings Day Parade in Madrid
As the capital of Spain, Madrid hosts a majestic Three Kings Parade. Every year on January 5, the Parade goes through the major streets of Madrid and lasts for 2,5 hours. The city pulsates with the energy of the parade and all its dancers, acrobats, musicians, and giant displays. The Three Kings Parade ends at the center of the city with the speech of the wise men, followed by a fireworks show.
The 2024 Three Kings Parade will start at 18:30 at Paseo de la Castellana, at the corner of Plaza San Juan de la Cruz. Then, it will go through Paseo de la Castellana, Plaza del Doctor Gregorio Marañón, Paseo de la Castellana, Glorieta de Emilio Castelar, Paseo de la Castellana, Plaza de Colón, Paseo de Recoletos, and finally, Plaza de Cibeles.
Each King will have a separate float and sit on a high throne this year. More details about the 2024 Three Kings Parade in Madrid haven’t been disclosed. However, the Three Kings Parade threw small candies to the audience as it passed by in the previous years. Therefore, the public also expects it to do the same in 2024. It is estimated that the Parade will reach its final destination, Plaza de Cibeles, at around 21:00. There, the 3 Kings will take the stage and deliver their speech, talking about peace, togetherness, and love.
3. Barcelona’s 2024 Three Kings Day Parade
Barcelona is the first Spanish city to officially celebrate the Three Kings Day. It is also known for hosting a relatively different Three Kings Parade than other Spanish cities.
In Barcelona, the Three Kings Parade starts with the Three Kings’ arrival by boat. The city’s mayor greets them at the harbor and presents the 3 Kings with the key to the city so they can enter every home to distribute gifts. Then, the Three Kings go through the streets of Barcelona for the Parade, accompanied by giant floats, decorations, music, and the participating crowd.
As usual, there is no limit to the maximum number of participants. However, keep in mind that the Three Kings Parade draws a large crowd as it is a highly popular event. Fortunately, the parade extends along a lengthy route in Barcelona, providing ample space for spectators. Also, the displays are very big, so you won’t miss anything even though you are not in the first row.
3.1. Barcelona’s Three Kings Parade Schedule in 2024
Barcelona’s Three Kings Parade 2024 will also follow the same flow. On January 5, the Three Kings will arrive at Port Vell at 16:30. Barcelona’s Mayor will greet them at the port and present them with bread to symbolize good intention and the key to the city. Before the 2024 Three Kings Parade starts, the 3 Kings will have a short speech at the port, addressing the children who have come to see the 3 wise men.
Then, the 3 Kings will make their way to Av Marquès de l’Argentera by walking through the streets. The official Three Kings Parade 2024 will start at 18:00 at the Av Marquès de l’Argentera with the entrance of the Three Kings to the street. The Parade will reach the Av Reina Maria Cristina, where the parade route will end at 21:15.
According to the schedule, after starting at Av Marquès de l’Argentera, the Three Kings Parade in Barcelona will go through the following route: Pg. Colom, Av Paral lel, Rda Sant Pau, Sant Antoni Market, C/Sepulveda, Pl Espanya, and finally, end at v Marquès de l’Argentera.
4. Three Kings Parade 2024 Malaga
Malaga’s Three Kings Parade is known as one of the biggest parades in Spain. So much so that it rivals Madrid’s and Barcelona’s Three Kings Parades. On average, Malaga’s Three King Parade distributes around 20,000 kg (44,092 lbs) of sweets as it passes by the streets. Hundreds and thousands of people gather to watch the parade. Every year, the Kings arrive in the city and make their way through Malaga on a different route, so the beginning of the Parade changes every year.
The Three Kings Parade 2024 in Malaga will include 14 floats. Each king will have their own float, sitting on a high throne. This year’s parade is also prepared to give the participants thousands of kilograms of sweets. In 2024, the 3 Kings will arrive at the city on January 4, and spend the night at the Magala’s Alcazaba Fortress, which was once a royal residence.
4.1. Malaga Three Kings Parade 2024 Schedule
Therefore, on January 5, 2024, the Three Kings will depart Alcazaba at 17:00 and make their way to the City Hall, where the Parade will start in 2024. The parade will start at 18:00. At the City Hall, the Mayor of Malaga will greet the 3 Kings, and they will wave to the attendees from the central balcony of the building.
Then, the Three Kings Parade 2024 will make its way to Avda. de Cervantes, Plaza General Torrijos, Paseo del Parque, Plaza de la Marina, Alameda Principal, Puente de Tetuán, Calle Nazareno del Paso, Calle Hilera, Puente de la Esperanza, Calle Prim, Calle Atarazanas, Calle Puerta del Mar. Then, the parade will turn to Alameda Principal again, Plaza de la Marina, and finally finish at Cortina del Muelle.
5.Three Kings Parade 2024 in Valencia
Valencia is also known for holding one of Spain’s largest Three Kings Parades. According to some sources, Valencia has been officially hosting a Three Kings Parade since 1866 without disruptions. Like Malaga and Madrid, the Three Kings Parade also gives out sweet treats to the audience and displays around 10-15 floats yearly.
Valencia’s 3 Kings Parade 2024 will also start similarly to Barcelona’s, with the Three Kings’ arrival at the Valencia harbor at around 16:30. City’s officials will greet the Kings as they make their way to the city center. The actual Parade will start at Navarro Reverter at 18:00.
The Three Kings Parade 2024 will follow a route that is around 2 kilometers (1.2 miles). After starting at the Navarro Reverter, the Parade will go to Porta de la Mar, General Palanca, General Tovar, La Paz, Plaza de la Reina, and San Vicente. It will come to an end at Plaza del Ayuntamiento. The festivities will come to an end there after dance shows and fireworks.
6. Alcoy’s Three Kings Parade 2024
Alcoy is a small Spanish town located in the west of Valencia. Even though it is a small town and not a great tourist attraction, Alcoy’s Three Kings Parade is worth mentioning because it is Spain’s oldest Three Kings Parade. Alcoy has been holding its Parade every year since 1855. In November 2021, Alcoy’s persistence paid off as authorities declared their Three Kings Parade a Festival of National Interest.
Alcoy’s Parade traditionally starts on the Sunday before January 6 with the parade of children dressed as shepherds. Locally called les Pastoretes, this parade of children marks the beginning of the preparations for the 3 Kings Day. On January 4, a messenger announces the king’s arrival to Alcoy. The Kings appear in town riding camels and distributing gifts. The city responds with a fireworks show on the hill of Sant Cristofol. The main Three Kings Parade in Alcoy takes place on January 5.
The organizers have not disclosed the route for the Three Kings Parade 2024 in Alcoy. However, the Kings will follow the same schedule as every year. By estimation, the official Three Kings Parade will start at around 18:00. It will last two hours, following a circular route in Alcoy.
7. Tips for the Three Kings Parades in Spain
No matter where you are in Spain, there are some things you should know if you are attending the Three Kings Parades in 2024.
The Three Kings Parade is a significant event for all Spanish people. Therefore, it is celebrated gloriously. This combination makes the Three King Parades a popular destination for tourists and locals. Beware of the crowd around you when watching the Parede, stay with your group, and watch your children closely. Also stay alert against pickpockets, especially in Barcelona.
Also, the crowd will likely create a rush, especially when the Three Kings Parade passes by. Prefer close and comfortable shoes to protect your feet from others’ and be able to stand up for long periods.
While waiting for the Three Kings Parade to approach, you might need a snack, especially if you have younglings. You won’t be able to get something to avoid losing your spot. Therefore, you might want to pack some snacks before you take your place to watch the Three Kings Parade 2024.
Finally, make sure to check the weather conditions for the day. Spain is a relatively warm country, and the weather in Malaga, Barcelona, and Alcoy is expected to be mildly warm on the day of the Three Kings Parade 2024. Madrid, on the other hand, is further to the north compared to the other cities. Therefore, it might be colder. Pack beanies and scarves to stay warm during the Three Kings Parades in 2024.
8. Other Ways to Celebrate the Three Kings Day in Spain
The Three Kings Day is a national holiday in Spain. Therefore, In addition to the grand parades, the Three Kings Day is celebrated by many different traditions.
First, Spanish homes and streets are decorated with Three Kings Day-themed ornaments and decorations. Merging with the lights of Christmas, the scenery becomes even more festive. Households use small figurines of the 3 Kings and baby Jesus. On the other hand, the streets are decorated with nativity scenes that depict the Three Wise Men’s visit to the baby Jesus.
Secondly, gift-giving also occupies an important space in this holiday. Reflecting the gifts the Three Kings brought the Jesus, the Spaniards give great importance to the gifts they choose for their loved ones for this day. They choose gifts that reflect love, appreciation, and a sense of togetherness.
Also, similar to the Christmas tradition, kids write messages to the Three Kings to tell what they want to receive as a gift on the Three Kings Day. Then, they tie these messages to balloons and release them to the skies for the Three Kings to receive. They also go to bed early on the evening of January 5 and leave sweet treats for the 3 Kings, who they expect will come to bring them gifts.
The food is also special on the Three Kings Day. The most traditional Three Kings Day dish is Rosca de Reyes, which is a ring-shaped sweet bread. To learn more about this day, visit our article on the Three Kings Day in Spain.
If you are joining the Three Kings Parades in Madrid or Barcelona, you can plan your route to the Three Kings Parade 2024 by visiting Madrid’s official metro lines, or Barcelona’s official transportation website.