Many visitors to Spain's great city of Barcelona come for its many festivals and events, and Three Kings Day, which is also known as Dia de los Reyes Magos, tends to draw in huge crowds every single year. It's a big part of the Christmas traditions that are observed throughout the entire country, and it's all centered on the three wise men who bring presents for the deserving boys and girls and their families. This is an exciting time for local children as well as those visiting, so be sure to make your Barcelona vacation plans for early January if you want to catch this fun event.
About Three Kings Day
This Christian tradition is based on the original three wise men who brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the newly born baby Jesus. Three Kings Day is held each year on January 5, and it begins with the much-anticipated arrival of the three wise men who are known as Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar. This popular trio generally arrives on a large boat that docks in Port Vell, and they are properly greeted by the city mayor before the start of the three-hour parade, known as the Procession of the Kings, through the city.
It's no ordinary parade either, and you may expect to hear excellent live music and see elaborate floats and Hollywood-quality costumes. The candy flows like water, and every child should bring a bag to collect his or her share of the sweets that are thrown by the parade participants. The parade route is subject to change, but it usually begins on Av. del Marques de l’Argentera and ends near the Montjuic Magic Fountains.
Before the Parade
It's not uncommon for people to flood the streets hours before the holiday parade starts, and there's much to see and do while you wait. The streets are usually beautifully decorated with twinkling lights, and street performers come out in droves along with food vendors and those selling all sorts of fun items to enhance your holiday experience. You may also expect to find many businesses along the parade route offering a variety of specials in honor of the holiday.
After the Parade
For centuries, the children of Spain have been sending lists of the presents that they'd like to receive to the three wise men, and each child makes sure to leave out water for the camels, a tasty treat for the wise men and their shoes to be filled with treats before heading off to bed after the parade on January 5. When they wake up on January 6, which is known as Epiphany Day, they open their presents to see if they were good enough for their fondest wishes to be granted.
A great feast follows the opening of the gifts, and many Barcelona restaurants offer a holiday luncheon that comes with all of the traditional dishes that local families enjoy on this special day. The star of the show is usually an Iberian ham cooked to perfection, but it wouldn't be Epiphany Day without the special cake at the end of the meal that is known as the Roscon de Reyes.
This cake is delicious, but it's of particular interest because it contains a surprise within. If you're really lucky, then you'll discover a small figurine that represents one of the three wise men, and you'll be crowned queen or king for the rest of the day. The unlucky person will find nothing but a simple bean in their slice of cake, and that person is traditionally required to pay for the entire dessert.