Christmas in Valencia. Favourite things to do with the kids
Dazzling lights busy markets, fun fairs and ice rinks, from around mid-November Valencia is ready for Christmas. The city is filled with decorations and sparkles to get you into the spirit and whether you are a local, an expat or a visitor to the area, there is plenty to see and do for everyone. Being a family-friendly city, the children are never forgotten and there are many places around town to take them and keep them entertained, till late at night. Here are our picks: some big city attractions, some a little more off the beaten track. Whatever you choose, have a fantastic time!
From 16 December
Valencia transforms into one great Christmas shoppers paradise around this time of year, with shops decorated beautifully, and stalls and markets everywhere. To make it fun for the children too (we all know they have a tendency to get a little bored during shopping trips), try Mercado de Navidad del Mercado Colon. Inside of Mercado Colon you’ll find a Christmas Market specifically dedicated to children, including the chance to meet Father Christmas and watch magic shows. Mercado Colon’s children’s market is open from 16 December to 5 January, daily from 10:00 to 22:00. Another one worth mentioning, slightly off the beaten track, is the Benimarket inside Mercat de Benimaclet, which takes place on 17 December from 10:30 – 14:00, including art and craft stalls, live music and activities for all the family. www.facebook.com/Benimarket/
The Berber Village at Bioparc
23 December – 7 January
Fancy winning a free annual pass to Valencia’s popular animal park? Yes please! Get yourself over to Bioparc from the 23rd of December, where the entrance will be turned into a traditional Berber village and children can take part in different workshops and games and qualify to receive a free annual pass. Lots of other activities taking place too. Worth a shot for sure, and a fun visit even if you don’t win. For full details and opening times please visit www.bioparcvalencia.es
City of Arts and Sciences
15 December to 7 January, open 11.30 to 21.30
The city’s architectural and cultural icon is aiming to become a focal point for social events and over the Christmas period offering a busy programme of activities designed for all the family. Visi-tors can enjoy browsing the Christmas market, various food trucks, watch musical performances and much more. Children’s activities include songs, games, puppet shows and crafts, as well as traditional letters to Father Christmas and the Three Kings. Venue: Paseo de arborsntes de L’Umbracle. For the full programme of activities please visit www.cac.es/navidad/
26 December – 4 January, 11:00 – 20:00
31 December + 1 January 11:00-14:00 and 16:00 – 21:00
Expojove is the popular annual 10-day festival under one roof designed especially for children of all ages, including the very young. For the 36th year this year this traditional children’s fair takes place with lots of fun activities, including crafts, sports, science, games, performances, learning opportu-nities – basically, more to see and do than you can cram into one day! You can find Expojove at Avinguda de les Fires. Entry is €5 and those under 4 years old go free. Visit the website for full de-tails and programme: www.expojove.com
Feria de Navidad
From 25 November – 22 January
If you love a good classic Fun Fair with a ghost train, dodgems and of course plenty of loud music, bright lights and candy floss, then this is one not to be missed! It also has the highest Ferris wheel in Spain and special warm cabins from which to enjoy the view. The fair, which has now taken place for more than a century, can be found in the city’s Marina, between Calle Ingeniero Manuel Soto and Avenida de Francia. It is open daily, until very late at night. For exact times please visit the website. http://feria.dbvinformatica.com/
Ice Rink on Plaza del Ayuntamiento
2 December – 7 January, 11:00 – 23:00 (on 24 and 31 Dec it closes at 20:00)
What would bring you more in the Christmas spirit than a twirl on an open air ice skating rink in a beautiful city square? The perfect fun thing to do as a family and even more special if you remem-ber that in Valencia snow and ice are a rare sight. Tickets can be purchased at the rink itself and are €8 for adults and €5 for children. You can get discounted tickets if you have bought items in participating shops, who together fund and organise the ice rink at Christmas each year.
The Three Kings Parade on 5 January
For Spanish families the holiday season is centred not around the traditional Christmas Day activi-ties but on the Day of the Kings (El Día de los Reyes) that falls on the 6 January. Many
children in Spain do not receive their Christmas presents until the 6 January! This day marks the
time when the Three Holy Kings – otherwise known as the Three Wise Men – brought the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus. This is when the Christmas period comes to a joy-ful and vibrant climax in true Spanish style with of course plenty of noise, celebrations and colour. The Three Kings Parade in Valencia is held on the night of the 5th January, with a dazzling celebra-tion. The Kings in their glorious regal robes arrive by boat in the Valencia harbour and disembark to greet Valencia’s children and give them sweets and gifts. The procession takes place shortly after, starting outside the city’s Yacht Club and winding its way through to the Plaza del Ayuntamiento – the square in front of the town hall. The float carrying the Three Kings play centre stage amongst an array of beautifully adorned floats and ornate carriages, carrying people wearing costumes who throw sweets and small gifts from the floats into the outstretched hands of the crowd. And when it’s time to go to sleep, the children polish their shoes and leave them out – filled with some food and maybe a drink for the Kings – hoping that the next morning they will find their presents waiting for them.