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'Tis the season to celebrate in Malaga province

The verdiales competition held yesterday in Puerto de la Torre.
The verdiales competition held yesterday in Puerto de la Torre. / Álvaro Cabrera
  • The festivities are not over yet with the New Year celebrations this Sunday night and then the visit of the Three Kings on 5 January

Andalucía started celebrating the festive season over a month ago, and throughout the month of December not a day has gone by without an event happening somewhere in the region. The festivities are still continuing with the most recent being the Fiesta Mayor de los Verdiales which took place yesterday.

The ancestral roots of Malaga's verdiales music make it one of the oldest living examples of music folklore in Europe. Every year, just after Christmas, Puerto de la Torre becomes the centre of a huge festival involving numerous verdiales bands (pandas) and lasting for almost twelve hours.

This year, the competition involved 26 pandas. The musicians, some of which wore the traditional, elaborate, flower-covered hats trimmed with colourful ribbons, competed in three categories of music: Montes, Almogía and Comares.

Nativities

Nativity scenes always inspire a bit of competition and attract lots of visitors, especially the huge panoramas created by some of the province's town halls. Of the many worth a visit (there are over 61 scenes in the city alone) is the 'belen' at Malaga cathedral and the one in Malaga's town hall. The Sala Mingorance in the Archivo Municipal building in the Alameda Principal has a novel belen created from Playmobil figures.

Mollina, near Antequera, meanwhile saw its belen museum, the largest in the word dedicated to the Nativity, officially opened by regional president Susana Díaz.

Live nativities, where townspeople dress up in clothing from biblical times and re-enact the events leading up to the birth of Christ, were held in many towns and villages, with those in La Herradura, Almayate and Comares becoming more elaborate each year.

This year, an original idea by Malaga journalist Antonio Moreno, became an international hit on Twitter. His thread, #HiloDeNavidad reported on the birth of Christ as if it were happening live.

Concerts and choirs

Malaga hasn't gone short of concerts with many churches and theatres hosting orchestras and choirs from all over the world. The Teatro Cervantes in Malaga city has held a series of concerts over Christmas, including one with the Alabama Gospel Choir and Malaga Philharmonic Orchestra.

Shoppers have been entertained in the Plaza de la Constitución in the city with the daily concerts which have included choirs, orchestras and 'zambombas', a traditional instrument typically used to accompany 'villancicos' (carols) at Christmas.

New Year

The festivities continue this Sunday night with 'Noche Vieja', New Year's Eve. It is a tradition in Spain to eat a grape with every chime of midnight; success will ensure good luck for the coming year. Revellers accumulate in the main square or outside the local church in towns and villages and are sometimes entertained with live music during the wait for midnight. The chimes are usually followed by fireworks. Many hotels and restaurants on the coast are offering special packages for families on New Year's Eve and Club Hípico de Málaga is holding a party especially for children called 'Hogwarts'.

The consumers action group (OCU) has advised people to be careful when purchasing tickets for special parties, leaving the purchase until the last moment if possible, to avoid cancellations or falsification. If buying tickets online, they should be bought through a secure site accessed through the page created by the organisers of the event.

The Reyes Magos

The festivities may be long over in other European countries but in Spain there is still the visit by the Three Kings to come. The Reyes Magos arrive in towns across the province on 5 January. Many have a novel means of transport such as by boat (La Carihuela), by helicopter or on horseback. They then climb on to decorated floats and parade through the town, usually throwing sweets to the children lining the streets who often are equipped with up-turned umbrellas to catch them.