With less than two months to go until Christmas, festive anticipation is starting to build in Valencia. Our two-part Christmas special tells you everything you need to know about celebrating Christmas in the city and enjoying the fun-packed themed events, festivals and good, old-fashioned traditions on offer…
The Nativity Scene is a traditional feature that pays homage to the time back in 1223 when Saint Francis of Assisi created a nativity scene with a live mule and ox. A tour of the city’s nativity scenes is enough to get anyone into the festive spirit! The main scene is displayed beside a towering Christmas tree in the Plaza de Ayuntamiento – an extravagant display rich in colour with figurines depicting the Baby Jesus inside the manger as well as Mary and Joseph.
Valencia Cathedral is famous around the world for housing the Holy Grail and religion lies at the heart of the city, making the Christmas celebrations that much more heartfelt and significant. It boasts a beautiful nativity scene, while other scenes worth a visit are situated in the Central Market and the Ceramics Museum.
This time of year is a real feast for the senses, as the city becomes festooned in colourful decorations and festive fragrances. The red and green foliage of the poinsettia plant is commonly seen, enhancing the traditional festive colours, while roasted chestnuts, almonds and other goodies are made fresh at street stalls, filling the city with wonderful aromas.
These delicious snacks are perhaps best enjoyed at the outdoor Christmas market that lines the streets surrounding the Mercado Central. It runs from 1 December to 6 January from 10 in the morning until 10 at night, with more than 300 stalls offering a variety of festive fare. Traditional Christmas gifts and nativity figures sit alongside a host of traditional sweet treats including gingerbread, marzipan and Christmas cake.
The Colon Market is another firm favourite with locals and visitors alike. This special festive affair sees the building adorned with colourful lighting, alongside a life-size crib and a huge, natural Christmas tree. This is an extra special place to be during the seasonal period, as children sing carols to create a wonderful celebratory atmosphere and the perfect accompaniment to a meal in the many different restaurants and terraces located around the market.
Christmas is also a wonderful time for shopping, and Valencia offers an experience that’s a little bit different. In recent times, the city has welcomed an underground shopping movement, where innovative designers and young entrepreneurs are creating events that redefine the whole shopping experience.
Over on Calle de la Paz, experience one of the pioneers of this movement at the Cool Market – a location selling unique clothes, jewellery and accessories. In the historical centre, the Tapineria Market is another such location. Set within a huge creative space, the market hosts a number of different events with fashion, shopping, culture, music, antiques and craft workshops all thrown into the mix. From 13-15 November, a special mums and kids event offers up to 70%
discount on clothing.
Just a few streets away, the Chic Market is a shopping centre set within an old mansion, where you can see remains of the old Arab walls that surrounded the city whilst browsing for bargains. Fashion fans should also head to the Ruzafa neighbourhood on 11 November, when Fashion Week kicks off and demonstrates the best of Spain’s homegrown design talent.
The artisan market in the Plaza de la Reina is another popular event that offers a different way to enjoy shopping during the festive season. From the 2 December until 8 January, around 24 local artisans will display their handcrafted goods for all to see, with the cathedral providing a spectacular backdrop.
For a family activity that’s really memorable, the Palau de la Música will be holding a special festive concert on 22 December, where audiences can enjoy the music of Beethoven performed by the New York Chamber Orchestra. Be sure to check out the schedule at the Palau de les Arts, who are offering a fascinating festive events calendar packed with opera, theatre and ballet performances. A huge New Year’s concert on 29 December welcomes the Strauss Festival Orchestra for a performance that is sure to impress.
To be continued…