The Costa del Sol, along with the rest of Spain, is getting ready for the traditional procession of Los Reyes Magos (the Three Kings, or Wise Men), the final spectacle of the Spanish festive season. Tradition says that the Three Kings, Melchior, Gaspar and Balthazar, followed a star that led them to baby Jesus and upon arriving, they offered gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh on the Twelfth Night.
For this reason, every year, as 6 January approaches, children begin to write letters to their favourite king. In these letters, the children tell the kings how well they behaved during the year and ask for the gifts they would like to receive. In theory, and in a similar manner to the tradition of Santa Claus, the better the children have behaved, the better their gifts will be. After this, comes one of the children's favourite moments, when they deliver their letters to the kings when they arrive on 5 January, or to the emissaries found in the centre of all towns and cities a few days before.
The Three Kings festival, as such, is not very widespread and is celebrated only in some Spanish-speaking countries, mainly because Santa Claus has prevailed elsewhere.
Gift giving in Spain is delayed until 6 January. The night before, the kings announce their arrival by means of a colourful parade known as La Cabalgata de Los Reyes. The streets are lined with thousands of excited children clambering for the sweets thrown from the elaborately-decorated floats, accompanied by an array of cartoon characters.
Costa del Sol
The processions embark on their journeys through the main streets of each town or village from late afternoon on Saturday, 5 January. Malaga's grand parade begins at the town hall in Avenida Cervantes at 6pm and runs through the main streets of the city centre, passing along Calle Larios, the Plaza de la Merced and on to Malaga Cathedral.
The procession in Nerja will begin in the Parque Verano Azul at 5.30pm, while in Vélez-Málaga, the parade will commence at 6pm from Plaza de las Indias.
Torre del Mar's event will start at 5pm in Calle Manuel Azuaga, and the celebrations in Churriana will begin at the municipal market at 5.30pm.
Three processions will take place in Mijas at 5pm: Parque María Zambrano in Las Lagunas, Plaza Virgen de la Peña in Mijas Pueblo and from the Centro Cultural de Mijas in La Cala.
Three airborne kings will arrive at the Elola Sports Complex in Fuengirola by helicopter at 4pm.
The parade in Arroyo de la Miel leaves Tivoli World at 6.30pm, while in Benalmádena Pueblo, the procession will leave the Recinto Ferial Los Nadales at 4.30pm.
A grand procession will leave the Torremolinos town hall at 5pm and continue to the centre of the town, where five tonnes of sweets will be distributed to the crowd.
Other parades include Coín (Montesol at 6pm), Marbella (Avenida Severo Ochoa at 6pm) and Estepona, in Avenida Andalucía at 5pm.
Gifts will be opened eagerly on Sunday 6th, and this year, Monday 7th is a public holiday as well.