Huge Three Kings parades or cabalgatas are traditionally held around Spain on January 5th.
They are enormous spectacles featuring hundreds of actors – most important of all Melchior, Gaspar and Baltasar, the Three Wise Men – who move through town centres on ornately decorated floats as they greet the children and throw sweets to them.
Every city and sizable town usually stages a parade which draws huge crowds of families, but this year will be different as the celebration is coinciding with the highest Covid infection figures on record in Spain since the pandemic began.
Here are the Covid restrictions and measures for Three Kings parades in Spain’s biggest cities this year.
Not all cities and towns that are holding cabalgatas are included below as there are too many to name, but the general Covid restrictions being implemented by authorities include capacity limits, pre-booking a place in some cases, choosing wider streets for the parade to avoid crowds, a ban on throwing sweets from the floats and “static” parades rather than the usual mobile parade through the streets.
Madrid: The Spanish capital made 7,000 tickets available for this year’s closed off Three Kings parade, but these sold out in just 12 minutes. That means that only a select few ‘early birds’ will be able to attend Madrid’s cabalgata this year as city authorities try to prevent further Covid infections. As an extra safety measure, no sweets will be thrown to the children from the floats as the tradition marks.
Barcelona: Three Kings Parades in Barcelona and the Catalan region won’t have capacity limits but authorities will require attendees aged 6 and over to wear a face mask, and they are also recommended for children aged 3 to 5. People with Covid-19 symptoms or with a positive result, as well as their close contacts, must not attend.
Bilbao: The Three Wise Men will not parade through the streets but will greet Bilbao’s children at the Bilbao Arena, although pre-booked tickets are required to attend.
San Sebastián: The coastal Basque city will host a longer parade to avoid crowds and will distribute sweets in hand to children rather than throw them from the floats.
Seville: The City Council has changed the route to avoid narrow streets and will opt instead for the parade to take place along wider avenues.
Granada: The cabalgata route will go from being 2km long to 8km to avoid crowds.
Córdoba: The historic city will also expand its cabalgata route.
Huelva: Huelva will not change its usual Three Kings parade plans.
Málaga: Mayor Francisco de la Torre announced on December 28th that the royal parade will not be cancelled but will require “more security measures”.
Valencia: Authorities in the eastern city initially planned a parade with fewer floats but it was finally decided it will be a “static” parade in the city’s bull ring rather than a moving cabalgata through the streets.
Alicante: The Costa Blanca city has kept its mobile parade plans, although it will expand the route to avoid crowds, as well as keeping capacity checks throughout.
Palma de Mallorca: The cabalgata in the Balearic capital will go ahead as usual but with “extra security measures”.
Tenerife: In Santa Cruz de Tenerife, where the Three Wise Men usually arrive by helicopter at the Heliodoro Rodríguez López football stadium, this tradition will not go ahead this year but there will be a parade through certain neighbourhoods.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria: Authorities in the Canaries’ biggest city have cancelled their static parade plans and instead the Three Kings will tour five city districts in their floats from 11:30 am to 8:00 pm.
Valladolid: The Castilla y León city will keep its moving parade but choose wider streets for its route.
Salamanca: The university city has extended its route to avoid crowds.
Vigo: The Galician city will hold a static parade from 11am to 8pm.
A Coruña: Authorities have decided to go ahead with the usual parade but with capacity limits.
Santander: The Cantabrian capital will hold a static parade around its cathedral.
Zaragoza: The Aragonese capital will hold a smaller cabalgata starting at 6pm in a bid to avoid big crowds.