The city of Granada lives Christmas in style. Its historic center is filled with lights and exhibits the most beautiful and original nativity scenes, in addition to its typical flea market, where you can buy all kinds of toys and handmade products, and taste the most delicious nougat and mantecados. If you want to know what to see and do in Granada, this article is for you.
Not only tourists have a predilection for this city, but also the Three Wise Men themselves, who ride through the center in their imposing floats and have an official envoy at the Town Hall to pick up their mail. With all this and much more, visiting Granada at Christmas is an excellent plan.
1. Visit the Christmas Market
Definitely one of the most anticipated events at this time of the year. This market takes place in two very important squares of Granada: Plaza Bib-Rambla and the Fuente de las Batallas.
Both are filled with artisans who offer their works inspired by Christmas. In addition, you can find beautiful Christmas decorations, figures for your Bethlehem, sweets and candies typical of the season, and much more.
In addition to the craft market, this event includes children's and artistic shows for the whole family to enjoy, classic Christmas carols are sung and an ecological carousel is presented.
The latter is a classic merry-go-round that has fourteen wooden figures, and boasts of being environmentally friendly, since its engine is a static bicycle that must be pedaled for the carousel to work.
Riding this carousel is, without a doubt, one of the best things to do in Granada with children.
In general, the Christmas Market begins in late November or early December, and lasts until January 1 or Epiphany.
2. Tour the Nativity Scenes and stroll among the lights of the city center
In this time of peace and hope you can not miss the so-called Route of the Christmas Nativity Scenes.
The different stores and institutions of all kinds set up their Nativity Scenes during these days. Most of them are located in the center of the city, so you can enjoy visiting them while you enjoy the attractions of that part of the city.
You will be surprised by the creativity within the designs of the nativity scenes, ranging from the most classic to versions with a humorous touch. Related to this exhibition, the contest of Nativity Scenes of Granada is celebrated where all the nativity scenes of the city participate.
The contest has several categories: historical cribs, traditional cribs and children's cribs.
And it is not only the nativity scenes that embellish the city of Granada at Christmas, but also the streets of the center of Granada are completely illuminated for this celebration. If you decide to take a night walk, you can enjoy this picturesque decoration full of charm. As with the nativity scenes, great originality and creativity is deployed to mount the most colorful and bright luminaries.
Commercial streets such as Puentezuelas, Alhóndiga and Mesones, as well as the Puerta Real Recogida and Gran Vía axis, are decorated with special lights that are already the hallmark of Granada's Christmas atmosphere.
3. Stroll around the Alhambra under the winter light
If you are in Granada you can not miss one of the most important monuments of the city: the inexhaustible Alhambra. Although it is true that it can be visited all year round, at Christmas and Christmas time the general atmosphere becomes much more emotional, and even the light that bathes its incredible gardens becomes particularly more intense.
Christmas is an ideal time to visit the Alhambra with children. Of course, at this time of year there is a greater flow of tourists in the city, so I recommend you book your tickets well in advance, since at this time they are easily sold out.
A guided tour of the Alhambra is one of the most practical and organized ways to visit this emblematic place in a time of so much commotion as it is Christmas. These guided tours offer the possibility of thematic tours to visit and learn about the Nasrid Palaces, the Almunia del Generalife, the Alcazaba and the Medina.
Some of these experiences also include workshops for families, where children can design and paint their own Christmas cards.
4. Hand-deliver your Epiphany letter
The day of the Three Wise Men is an event eagerly awaited by children since the Christmas preparations begin, and the city of Granada has something very special for that date.
From mid-December you can find the Royal Postman himself in the courtyard of the Granada City Hall. You can leave your letter to this honorable character for the Three Wise Men, and he will deliver it in person.
As it is well known, all children are very excited to prepare their letters for the Three Wise Men, and having the possibility to deliver them by hand makes you think that Melchior, Gaspar and Baltazar have a certain predilection for Granada.
Needless to say, if you come with your kids, they can even take a picture with the official messenger of the Kings. In addition, at the Town Hall you will also be able to see the Nativity Scene that is installed there every year.
5. Live a gypsy experience in the Sacromonte Caves and participate in a tambourine or a flamenco zambomba
Flamenco is part of the identity of Andalusia. This expression and way of life is present at all times in Granada, even during Christmas.
If you want to tour Sacromonte, the most gypsy neighborhood of Granada I recommend you to sign up for a tour to visit one of the famous zambra caves.
The gypsy zambra is a mixture of song and dance inspired by Muslim culture, from the time when the Moors, being persecuted, joined the gypsies.
Thus, in this mixture of cultures and laments, flamenco is born, and stands as one of the most typically Andalusian expressions.
The zambra, whose name comes from the Arabic word "zamra" (flute), or "zamara" (musicians), becomes the way in which the gypsies express their joy for Christmas.
For this reason, during the Christmas period you can witness the best flamenco shows of the whole year, since in addition to the usual shows, tambourines and zambombas are performed and traditional Christmas carols are sung. This tradition has been celebrated since the 18th century.
One of the main places where you can enjoy these celebrations is the Enrique Morente La Chumbera Municipal Auditorium.
6. Cabalgata de Reyes, an event for children of all ages
This is another event with which the Three Kings are present in the city of Granada. On January 5, the Three Wise Men depart in a royal caravan from Gran Capitán, ending their journey at the Town Hall, in the Plaza del Carmen.
Melchor, Gaspar and Baltazar, along with their queens and their entire entourage, ride through the city in their floats while greeting the public and handing out sweets to the little ones. This show stands out for its charming floats full of color, its lights, and the joyful music that accompanies them during the tour.
In case you didn't know, the Three Kings parade in Granada is the oldest in Spain, the first one was held in 1912, promoted by the Artistic Center of the city.
This colorful and joyful celebration, so enjoyed by children and adults alike, is the way the city of Granada brings the Christmas season to a close and bids farewell to it until next year.
7. The 12 grapes at the Plaza del Carmen
The Plaza del Carmen is located in the epicenter of the city, between Reyes Católicos and Escudo del Carmen streets, and is the scene of various festivities.
On the last day of the year, hundreds of locals and tourists gather at this point of the city to welcome the new year by eating grapes at midnight.
Around 11pm, bags of grapes and confetti are distributed among all the locals and tourists present in the square to celebrate the arrival of the new year. After the classic midnight chimes, the sky lights up with a fireworks show.
Meanwhile, an orchestra delights everyone with its music until almost 2 am. After that, if you want to continue partying, there are plenty of pubs, bars and discos to keep on celebrating until dawn.
Don't miss your New Year's Eve dinner before the grapes
If you are wondering if you will be able to find a place for New Year's Eve dinner, the answer is yes. Although tradition dictates that families get together for dinner, luckily in Granada you can make reservations at one of the city's restaurants that are open that night.
This type of New Year's Eve dinner usually includes a special show, musical or humorous.
You can dine in the neighborhood of El Albaicín, a few meters from the Mirador San Nicolás, in the restaurant Carmen de Aben Humeya. With a varied menu of Granadian dishes that starts at 60 Euros, ideal to spend an incredible night in the most traditional neighborhood of Granada.
8. Warm up with a chocolate with churros (fritters)
The Christmas season in Granada is usually quite cold. For that reason, after so much walking and touring the various attractions of the city, it is perfect to find a place to stop and rest for a moment and recharge your energy to continue enjoying your visit to this city.
A classic Granadino to raise the body temperature and give you a treat, is its delicious chocolate with churros.
There are two very popular places in Granada that stand out for their chocolate with churros:
- La Alhambra Cafeteria, located in Plaza Bib-Rambla, surrounded by an excellent environment and with an outdoor terrace that makes the experience that much more special.
- The other great specialist in chocolate and churros is the emblematic Café Futbol. This cafeteria, founded in 1922, is located in the Plaza de Mariana Pineda and throughout its history has earned a well-deserved reputation for offering some of the best chocolate with churros in all of Granada.
Keep in mind that these places are usually crowded, and more so at this time of the year, so I recommend that you arm yourself with patience. I assure you that you will not regret it.
9. Buy convent sweets, a Christmas classic in Granada
One of the oldest and most beautiful traditions of Christmas is to buy the sweets offered in the monasteries for these dates.
In the convents and monasteries, the nuns put their hands to work to offer the most delicious typical Christmas sweets. The handmade products made in the convents have always been characterized by their exquisite flavor, the high quality of their ingredients and the affection with which they are made.
The variety of Christmas sweets that can be purchased in the convents is really very wide, from almond mantecados, aniseed donuts and coconut balls, to chestnuts or marzipan eels and perrunillas, among many other exquisite options.
Many of the convents and monasteries that make sweets also do so during the rest of the year. You can easily come across them, as they are mostly located in the center of the city and very close to each other.
You could even make a route of convent sweets, going from one to another to get the best sweets to share with your family. Of course, some of them you will only get at this time of the year, that's why many Grenadians look forward to Christmas so much.
Some of the religious convents where you can buy your sweets are: the Monasterio del Santísimo Corpus Christi, the Convento de Zafra, the Monasterio del Carmen and the Monasterio de San José (these two belong to the Discalced Carmelites), the Convento de las Comendadoras de Santiago, among others.
10. Attend classic Christmas concerts
Every year the city organizes a series of musical events for Christmas, ranging from classical music to more modern genres. But what can never be missing are the Christmas carols.
The Orquesta Ciudad de Granada performs every year its now typical concert of Christmas carols from around the world. There is also the participatory Messiah and the New Year's concert. All these shows are traditionally held in the Manuel de Falla Auditorium.
Throughout December, Granada is filled with musical shows and events of all kinds, not only in the streets, but even in bars and restaurants, where you can enjoy live music and dancing.
What should I pack in my suitcase to visit Granada for Christmas?
Temperatures in Granada during this time of the year hover around 15 degrees Celsius during the day, dropping to 4 or 5 degrees at night, so it wouldn't hurt to bring a light coat, a sweater and a light jacket.
Although if you are very cold you will need a warmer jacket.
As I always say, packing a suitcase is a very subjective matter, it will depend on how much you suffer from the cold.