There are a few key times of the year when people take to the streets for wonderful parades in the Costa del Sol’s larger towns and cities. These are good fun for kids and can be very powerful too. Here are the key dates for your diary!
January 5th – Three Kings Parade
In Spain, it’s the Kings which bring the presents to the kids each Christmas not Santa, so this parade is a real family affair with floats featuring your kids’ favourite characters, marching bands and finally the Three Kings to finish off the parade. Sweets are thrown from the floats as they pass by, so take a bag or bucket and be prepared to get your elbows out to collect the candy as it flies by. Some people even use an upturned umbrella to catch the most! Don’t be surprised to see grannies and teenagers pushing and shoving to get the sweets, it’s a free-for-all, so just get involved and don’t be offended, the scrum is part of the fun!!
Insider’s Tip – Go to your local tourist office to see the route and check the times. People start lining the route up to an hour ahead of the parade and it can be quite tiring. Our favourite thing to do is find a nice bar or café on the route with a table outside so you can sit and enjoy the show, rest your feet and only go into the crowds to catch some sweeties.
If you’re visiting Marbella in February you can join in with all the Carnival fun. This normally includes two parades, one of which is a kids’ parade, when kids and their parents can dress up and parade through the town to a big Children’s Party. The best costumes are judged and awarded with prizes, so if you like dressing up this one’s for you!
The second parade is the main event, a big parade through the town with big floats and lots of fun, games, and silliness. Expect loud music, sweets being thrown, funny acts and even people shooting you with water pistols or bashing you over the head with a blow-up mallet. It is a bit crazy but lots of fun!!
Carnival is the time for “chirigota” singing —satirical folk songs performed in the streets. Throughout the week, there are also lots of excellent kids’ activities, concerts, and parties, many of which are free to join in with, others which have a small admission fee. Ask at your local tourist office for the official programme if you’re staying during this period.
The biggest and most important parades of the year are held during Semana Santa, or Holy Week, and are very powerful. In Málaga, these parades involve stunning “tronos” (thrones or floats) with beautifully painted sculptures depicting important moments or people from the Easter story being brought out of their chapel or church and paraded through the streets.
These thrones are accompanied by religious orders and believers who are trying to atone for their sins. There is music from the town marching band, incense, pomp, and ceremony. Check out the hooded figures which have been in use since the medieval period for the most religious participants to show their penitence.
There are parades every day throughout the Easter week, some joyous, but most very sombre. If you have kids with you or want the cheerful parades, then head to the daytime parades on Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, which are lovely and very happy. Palm Sunday is particularly nice for the kids.
If you want power, passion, and devotion, then the candlelit, night processions from Monday to Friday are for you. One of the most powerful is held on Holy Thursday, evening processions normally start at 8 pm or 9 pm, with some taking place at midnight.
Malaga is the most famous place in the region to watch the Easter parades with tens of thousands of people taking to the streets for dramatic parades with enormous floats and wonderful works of art, plus bursts of sorrowful flamenco. However, you need to be prepared for the crowds! Look for a holiday rental nearby so you can reach the city by train and not worry about parking. We’d recommend a Torremolinos holiday rental if you want to experience this spectacle.
Marbella is another great place to see the Easter parades, with plenty of atmosphere and a good turnout of people, but without the enormous crowds. The chapels and churches in the Old Town are stunning and during Easter they are normally open so you can view the thrones before they join the procession. This is a lovely way to explore the Old Town. View the Marbella Easter programme here and check out our selection of Marbella vacation rentals on our website.
Another lovely place to see the parades and explore the pretty Old Town is Estepona, which is slightly quieter than Marbella, but full of charm and tradition. Find out more about Easter in Estepona on their tourism website or browse our Estepona vacation rentals here.
As we’ve said, these parades take place in almost all towns and cities along the Costa del Sol, but they vary in size and quality. Marbella is a good choice to see the parades, as it’s a large enough town to put on a good show, without the huge crowds and transport issues that a city like Malaga can experience.