Valencia’s Christmas traditions and how to enjoy them!
As you’ve definitely already seen by now, Valencia has successfully captured the true Christmas spirit with its breathtaking display of Christmas lights and decorations, illuminating the city in a dazzling display of colors and holiday cheer. There are more decorations than ever this year, including multiple Christmas trees, nativity scenes and festive events for both adults and children.
Having said this, there is so much more to Christmas in Valencia than its magical Christmas decorations. The holiday season in Valencia is more than just a celebration; it’s both a cultural and gastronomic journey that captures the hearts of both residents and visiting tourists.
Here are some of Valencia’s most popular Christmas traditions, including its typical Christmas food and dishes and tips on how you can enjoy them all this Christmas:
Have you ever heard of Turron? No Valencian Christmas is complete without it! Turron is a traditional Spanish nougat made from almonds, honey, sugar, and egg whites and it has a rich history dating back to the Moorish influence in Spain. Introduced during the Middle Ages, this sweet nougat became popular particularly in Valencia due to the abundance of almonds in the region. Over centuries, it evolved into a beloved Christmas delicacy, deeply embedded in Valencian tradition and culture, symbolizing the sweetness of the festive season.
Nowadays turron is available in various flavors and textures and although you can buy it in most places, a few stand out for their quality and variety. Head down to the Mercado Central (which have multiple turron stalls) or shops such as «Torrons Galiana» and «Sabor a España» to buy authentic, high quality turron. It’s the perfect gift to bring home to both friends and family!
2. Midnight Mass
Midnight Mass, known as «Misa del Gallo» in Valencia, is a cherished Christmas Eve tradition where families gather in beautifully adorned churches across the city to attend a special service commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. The resonance of hymns and prayers, and the symbolism of this midnight service create a deeply meaningful experience for locals and visitors alike, marking the beginning of Christmas festivities in Valencia.
The biggest midnight mass in Valencia is held at Valencia Cathedral and there truly isn’t a better location in the city to bring friends and family together to celebrate. On Christmas day there is also a choir and activities for families and children.
3. Nativity scenes
Nativity scenes, known as «Belenes» in Valencia, are an integral part of Christmas traditions. These scenes beautifully depict the birth of Jesus, incorporating not only the Holy Family but also intricate representations of Valencian daily life. They are carefully crafted with figurines, often handmade, showcasing a variety of characters, animals, buildings, and landscapes.
You’re probably wondering where to find these nativity scenes and the good news is that there is a lot to choose from. «Belenes» can be found in churches, town squares, and even private homes. The next time you have some free time to explore the city go and check out the best ones in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, Mercado de Colón and Xativa (the town) where you can find the biggest nativity in Spain!
4. Shows and funfairs
You won’t be bored this Christmas in Valencia as the Christmas lights switch on not only turns the city into magic, but it also marks the start of a variety of shows, events and attractions to enjoy! Valencia has a vibrant cultural scene, and venues like the Circ de Nadal (Christmas Circus) or other event spaces often host circus performances during the festive period. These shows can feature a range of acts, from acrobatics and aerial displays to clowns and animal performances.
As well as this, The Song of the Sibyl, as a prelude to Christmas, is performed each year at the Cathedral of Valencia. It is a paraliturgical drama which, until the 16th century, was performed on Christmas Eve in cathedrals all over the country. The performance will be held on the 20th of December at 7:30 p.m. It is the perfect way to appreciate Valencian culture and tradition through the art of music and performance.
If you’re the type of person who is an adrenaline seeker then don’t worry- Valencia still has you covered! December often sees the city come alive with various holiday-themed events, including funfairs that add to the merriment of the season. Be sure to check out the funfair at Estación Grao, which has more than 40 attractions that include 3 rollercoasters! Don’t miss it!