Granada Christmas festivities begin around the 1st of December and end on the 6th of January. According to Spanish tradition, the big celebration is actually Epiphany with the three kings bringing gifts on January the 6th.
So the Spanish Navidad has plenty to offer with a whole month of activities.
Timeless traditions, delicious food and lots of light and colour.
In this guide I include things to do, local traditions, what to eat and key dates in the Spanish Festive Calendar. There are also opening times included too.
Hope you enjoy it and find it useful! Feliz Navidad
10 tips for Christmas in Granada
Granada Christmas Lights
On Friday 29th November 2019 in Bib Rambla Square the city Christmas lights will be switched on.
The big switch on will be at 6.30pm of 54.900 led lightbulbs
The new addition this year is an enormous walk through bauble at Fuente de las Batallas. With a light and music show at 7pm everyday.
Puerta Real, Gran Via, Reyes Catolicos and the main commercial streets in the city centre are where the most lights are visible.
Nativity Scenes in Granada
In the UK and Nordic countries, the switching on of Christmas tree lights is usually an important event. In Granada, the Nativity Scene is the main feature in most shop windows and offices. Christmas trees are not quite as abundant as in other countries.
In the official Belen competition run by the local town hall around 40 organisations compete. However there are actually many more unofficial displays around the city. Every year in Granada has a Ruta de Belenes so you can visit all the nativity scenes.
All the scenes on the route are open from 11th December until the 5th January. (with their own timetables)
Ruta de Belenes
Some of the most popular Belenes are:
- Granada Town Hall. Set inside the inner patio of the Ayuntamiento at the Plaza del Carmen. Open from 10am-2pm & 5pm-9pm 16th Dec until 5th January.
- Granada Cathedral from 19th Dec until 4th January 7pm until 8.45pm Daily. (closed 24th, 25th, 31st Dec and 1st Jan)
- Outdoor scene by the Sagrario Neighbourhood group at the Fuente de las Batallas. Open from 11am-2pm and 5.30pm-9.30pm
- Condes de Gabia Palace on the Plaza de los Girones. Open from 11am-2pm & evenings 6pm-9pm
- Caja Rural at Avenida de Don Bosco (close to Granada Science Park Museum) Open weekdays 6pm- 9pm. Weekends 12h-2pm and 6pm-9pm until 6th January (closed on 24th, 31st Dec & 5th Jan)
- Angel Custodio at Calle San Anton 38 from 6pm-9pm. Holidays open from 11.30-2pm. At this Nativity display they also sell traditional Christmas bakes too.
- Casa Jaen at Calle Jardines 13 has a large nativity scene inside their courtyard.
- Bajo Albaicin Neighbours Association on Calle Zafra 10. This display even includes the Alhambra. Open from 11am-2pm
- Casa de los Pisa is just off Plaza Nueva at Calle Convalencia. Open from 10am to 2pm & 5pm-8pm daily. Open 10-2pm only on 24th, 31st Dec & 5th Jan
- Virgen de las Angustias (church below El Corte Inglés) 7.30am to 1.30pm 6pm to 9pm
- San Rafael Church on Calle San Juan de Dios open from 12th Dec to 6th January from 10,30am to 1.30pm and 5.30pm to 8.30pm daily.
- Bar de Fede (below San Agustin Market) on Calle Marqués de Falces 1 open from 1pm til midnight daily until 6th January 2017
Do keep an eye out for signs that say Belen as some set up their own in a garage or small business.
Nativity in Granada province
- Alberto Sanchez Nativity Scene in Pinos Puente. Address: Calle Redonda 24. This amazing set up has been going more than 25 years. Open from 1st December until 6th January 11.30 til 1.30pm & 4.30pm until 8pm.
- Trevelez, Alpujarra. This village has a Nativity scene based on local traditions. Find it on Calle Carcel next to San AntonionHermitage. Open from 11am-10pm every day.
- Huétor Tajar has a nativity scene at Plaza Gregorio Peláez until 8th January. Open from 4pm-8pm daily.
There are lots of Flamenco concerts and typical Rociero choirs on over Chrismastime. At the Teatro Isabela la Catolica they have shows throughout December and a few in January.
Tickets can be purchased at the theatre kiosk. (Puerta Real/Fuente de las Batallas) The Palacio de Congresos de Granada have lots of concerts and activites on over Christmas. Find out more information on their website: Palacio de Congresos Granada
This year they have a typical Flamenco Zambomba on 18th December, the Nutcracker Ballet on 19th December or the Beauty and Beast Musical on 22nd December.
Granada Christmas markets
In Plaza Bib Rambla and Puerta Real the Christmas Markets start on Saturday 30th November 2019.
Open from 11am to 2pm and 5pm to 9.30pm daily.
Expect to find typical sweets, handmade toys and jewellery.
The stalls are closed on 25th December and 1st January.
Find out more about Christmas markets in the city
Christmas Around the World
Christmas with Children
As last year on the Paseo del Salon next to the river there is a Huge Slide. The tobaggan style inflatable is open from 7th December until 6th January 2020.
Opening Times are 10am to 2pm and 4pm to 9pm.
Dont miss Bib Rambla Square as there are lots of Granada Christmas activities usually going on here.
Little ones may enjoy visting the Cartero Real at Granada Town Hall. (plaza del Carmen) Its the Spanish equivalent to Santa´s Grotto. One of the three kings is ready to accept your Christmas List from 20th December until 4th Jan.
Ice Skating is another activity that youngsters might enjoy. Don Patin has public sessions for just 5 euros.
You need to take gloves with you and warm comforable clothes.
- Tuesday & Thursday: 7.30pm to 8.30pm
- Fridays: 4pm to 5.15pm / 5.45pm to 7pm / 7.30pm to 8.45pm
- Saturdays & Sundays 12:45h a 1:45pm / 4pm to 5.15pm / 5.45pm to 7pm / 7.30pm to 8.45pm
The Ice Rink is on Calle Torre de la Pólvora close to the Palacio de Deportes
Can get the on the Metro to Palacio de Deportes or by bus on 4 route.
What to eat in Granada Spain Christmas
The Spanish celebrate Christmas eating lots of Shellfish. The main meal on Christmas Eve is often turkey or lamb.
Chocolate and Churros of course are the best Christmas breakfast for an indulgent start to the day. Sweets are typical too, particularly Marzipan figures and lots of almond nougat which they call turron. Polvorones and mantecados are popular as well. (mantecados are made with flour and LARD)
Restaurants and bars will be open over the Christmas period continually. It is recommendable to book on special dates or if you are a group of 4 or more.
The days that most of them will be closed are:
- Christmas Eve: On December 24th bars and restaurants are open all day until 5pm-6pm. (no evening opening)
- Christmas Day: Bars and Restaurants are open all day as normal.
- 31st December – Bars & restaurants are open all day until 5pm-6pm. New Years Eve, For evening meals, only available when pre booked. Many places will be closed.
- 1st January – New Years Day many will be closed at midday.
- 5th January – Many restaurants will be closed on the evening of 5th
- 6th January – Many places will be closed at midday but reopen in the evening.
For information about New Year and Reyes. See my New Year Guide to Granada
Visit the Alhambra Palace over Christmas
Opening times in wintertime are Monday to Sunday from 8.30am to 2pm and 2pm to 6pm.
The ticket office is open from 8am to 5pm.
The Alhambra is closed on 25th December 2018 and 1st January 2019.
Tickets to visit the Alhambra palace are already sold out on some of the days near the Christmas holidays.
If you would like to visit around this time, book as soon as you can. More details here: Get Alhambra tickets
Ski in Spain
From November until Mid April 2019 Sierra Nevada Ski Station is open.
Choose to stay there or just head up on a day trip from the city.
If you choose to drive up check road conditions as some parts of the mountain road may need Snow Chains when you reach altitude depending on the weather.
The official website Cetursa has information in English. AEMET is the Spanish weather service.
A typical Granada Christmas in the mountains can be quite cosy and festive being surrounded by snow.
Plan your Christmas in Granada
- 1st December the Christmas lights and decorations around the city are lit up. They will be on untis 6th January 2018. The lighting ceremony is held in Bib Rambla on 5th December at 6.30pm
- 2nd December find Granada Christmas markets in central squares such as Bib Rambla, Puerta Real and other areas dotted around the city. They sell typical sweets, nativity scenes, local crafts and jewellery.
- 6th December until 5th January The most typical thing for a Granada Christmas is taking a walk around the Nativity Scenes in Granada in Spanish it´s called the Ruta de Belenes. You can see lots of them all around the city.
- Friday 22nd December 2017 and every year on the Last Friday before Christmas, there is a Nighttime fun run through the streets of Granada. Carrera Nocturna Solidaria. The runners wear costumes. The race begins around 8.30pm. Many roads in and around the edge of the city are closed to traffic from 7.30pm. Bus routes are affected too.
- Spanish Christmas Lottery. El Gordo. This is sold throughout the months running up to Christmas across Spain. At 20 euros per ticket it´s not a cheap bet but there are lots of prizes. The Draw is done on 22nd December.
- 24th December The Cartero Real can be seen from Christmas Eve until 4th of January 2018 at Granada Town Hall. This is the important person that passes the children´s Christmas letters to the three kings (similar to Santa´s Elves)
- On Christmas Eve Spanish families have a special dinner together at home.
- 25th Christmas Day The Alhambra and other Museums are closed. Bars and Restaurante may open in the evening.
- 26th December Every year at the Virgen de las Angustias church (close to El Corte Ingles) they hold a special service. This service at 11.45 am is a blessing to thank the Patron of Granada, the Virgen de las Angustias for her protection against earthquakes in Granada.
New Years in Granada
- 31st December New Years´Eve It is typical to eat 12 grapes at midnight at Granada town hall. The city puts on a firework or laser show at midnight in Plaza del Carmen. It is usually quite busy. If you go along make sure you wrap up warm. After the New Year has been welcomed in the bars nearby open, usually it will be around 1.30 am.
- The locals eat with their family and celebrates the chimes at midnight at home. Afterwards they meet their friends to have a drink or party through the night. If you want to eat out on 31st December book ahead. Some set menus are quite extravagant on the final day of the year. Look around at what´s on offer a ahead of time and book something you are happy with.
- At Sierra Nevada ski resort there is a great atmosphere at New Year. Pradallano usually has plenty going on.
- 1st January is a national holiday in Spain. Take note if you need to get bread, milk etc. Also hardly any restaurants are open on that day. You may find a few open in the evening.
- 2nd January The second of January is a local holiday in Granada. For some, a controversial event. This day is called El dia de la Toma. Granada commemorates the handing over of the city to the monarchs Isabel and Ferdinand, after the surrender of Boabdil. There is a religious celebration at the Capilla Real, resting place of the Catholic Monarchs. Afterwards at Granada Town Hall another part of the celebration takes place. A councillor waves a banner or flag three times while the phrase is called out “Spain, Castille, Granada, for the illustrious Kings, Doña Isabella and Don Ferdinand” (these are usually around 11h to noon, roads in city centre are closed in the morning
Reyes Magos in Granada
- 5th January The 3 Kings arrive to Granada and parade through the streets. The route in Granada usually leaves San Juan de Dios around 5.30pm and winds along the whole of Gran Via. The Cabalagata of course is popular with Children and adults alike. As the parade goes by they throw sweets (last year over 10,000kgs of them) out to the crowds. If you intend to fill your pockets with sweets, beware of people next to you with umbrellas and stepladders ; ) as they may have the upper hand.
- The route is Gran Capitan, San Juan de Dios, Gran Vía de Colón, down along Reyes Católicos past the Town Hall, along to Puerta Real then down to Acera del Darro and onto Carrera de la Virgen. The parade moves onto Plaza del Campillo along Angel Ganivet and concludes on Reyes Católicos.
- At the end of the Cabalgata at Plaza del Carmen the Spritely figure of Duende Fermin will address the Children and some fireworks are set off from the Town Hall building.
- Shops are open until midnight on 5th January for last minute purchases. This adds to the hustle and bustle. I love the atmosphere and often buy a Roscon de Reyes after seeing the parade so I can have cake for breakfast on the 6th January.
- 6th January As soon as you wake up open your pressies. The three Kings will have left you gifts during the night of course. Althought you may have been left sweet black coal if you were naughty this year.
Roscon de Reyes
- At lunchtime have food fit for a King followed by the typical dessert, Roscon de Reyes. This is one of my favourite festival foods of the whole of the Spanish calendar.
- A light brioche style mix baked into a ring shape. Then it is covered with candied fruit and sugar. It may be filled with White cream (nata) or yellow creme patissiere (crema). Some modern variations are truffle or chocolate flavoured fillings. Hidden inside the dough you need to keep an eye out for the Spanish answer to the sixpence or threepenny bit in the Christmas pud. Inside is a King and a Dry Bean (haba).
Broad Bean Tradition
- A dried broad bean carefully hidden inside the Roscon. If you get this in your portion you´ll have to pay for the whole cake. Of course there is a King inside the cake too and the one who gets the King gets to wear the paper Golden Crown and is named the King for the day. Some families ask the baker to pop more than one King into the Roscon to avoid squabbles at the table.
¨Si es el haba lo encontrado este postre pagarás
más si ello es la figura coronado y Rey serás¨
January Sales in Spain
- 7th January Things get back to normal again. The January sales begin on the 7th January in stores.
- It is the first working day after the Christmas holidays.
Festive words in Spanish
Brush up on your Spanish while enjoying a Granada Christmas
- Zambomba – a typical instrument made from a flower pot and hide lid (pig skin) that only comes out at Christmastime
- Pandareta – Tambourine, very often used to sing Spanish Christmas carols
- Portal de Belen o belen – Nativity scenes
- Pessebre – Manger or crib, part of the Nativity scene
- Villancico – Christmas Carol
- Polverones y mantecados – Typical Christmas sweets Mantecados made from lard (manteca) are made from ground almonds. Warning make sure you have a drink of some sort nearby when tasting these, polvorones are powdery and can be dry.
- Nochebuena – Christmas Eve
- Nochevieja – New Year´s Eve
- Campanadas – Chimes of bell, refers to 12 chimes at midnight on New Years Eve
- Cabalgata – The 3 kings parade held on 5th January.
- Regalo – Gift
- Detalle – Stocking filler