As the weather in London grows crisp and the winter nights get darker, it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. But not so in Valencia! Temperatures during the festive months hover around the mid 20s, offering a nice toasty welcome to Santa Claus. And it’s not only the warmth that makes visitors flock to the city when December rolls around…
Get your skates on
At Christmas in Valencia, stunning decorations, twinkly lights and carpets are laid across the streets. One of the most beautiful parts to visit at this time of year is the city centre, in particular the area around the Plaza del Ayuntamiento where a magnificent life-size Nativity scene recreation sits alongside a huge Christmas fir tree. From December 20, the square will be transformed into an ice-skating rink that will stay open until 11pm every evening. It costs just eight euros for 40 minutes’ skating, offering plenty of time to show off those pirouettes!
The city’s Christmas Fair (or feria) is another star attraction of Valencia’s festive season. Rooted in tradition, the fair has taken place every year for more than a century and its 2014 showing will include a new area dedicated to the kids. It runs from 1 December until the end of January and boasts a huge funfair with the highest Ferris wheel in Spain and special warm cabins from which to enjoy the view. The fair also includes fun games such as balloon darts and tombola, and plenty of chances to win prizes. There are crafts on sale with painted nativity figures and maracas among some of the more traditional products.
Time to shop
Wandering the street markets of the city is a really special way to get into the Christmas spirit and Valencia has an assortment of options for seasonal shopping, with everything from traditional food to lavish gifts available. The Christmas Market at the Central Market is truly spectacular. From 1 December, from 10 in the morning until 10 at night, its 300 stands will be selling festive gifts and delicious local food, such as hot roasted chestnuts and turrón– a sticky nougat sweet (see our blog post on Food in Valencia for more on traditional Christmas delicacies). For something more intimate and the chance to find a really special present, the Craft Market close to Plaza de La Reina opens on 28 November and sells the handcrafted work of local artisans. It’s a fantastic place to absorb the beauty of Valencia at Christmas time amongst the sparkling festive lights.
The heart of the Christmas season
Spain is a country where religion is close to the heart of many residents, which is why visiting at Christmas time is a really unique experience. Midnight mass (on Christmas Eve) at Valencia Cathedral is awe-inspiring, with hymns, a special service and the chance to see the beautiful Nativity setting. Christmas Eve is also a traditional party night, with a family meal followed by a drink-up. Many of the bars don’t even open until 1am, which gives you some idea of the level of festivities involved!