Spectators return to Spain’s Epiphany parades after virus pause

Three Kings parade in Madrid
Three Kings parade takes place in Madrid. Photo: GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP
Spectators once again lined the streets of Spain's cities on Wednesday for the annual Epiphany parades after many of last year's spectacles were scaled down and closed to the public.

Multitudes of parents and children traditionally pack the streets of Spain’s cities to watch decorative floats carrying people dressed as the biblical kings who are believed to have brought gifts to the baby Jesus.

This year Madrid city hall tried to limit attendance to 7,000 spectators who obtained free tickets online, but many more people turned up along the roughly three-kilometre-long (1.8-mile) route despite sometimes heavy rainfall.

While in Barcelona, spaces weren’t limited and the parade was attended by some 950,000 people, according to the city’s Guardia Urbana. 

This year however Barcelona’s parade was scaled back to make it shorter and featured some 800 participants – 500 fewer than a normal year. 

READ ALSO: Why Spain loves the Three Kings more than Santa

Both Madrid and Barcelona decided not to throw sweets into the crowd, like normal, to prevent spectators from coming in close contact as they scramble to catch them and lowering their masks to eat them. 

This year’s parade in Madrid featured a giant mechanical elephant, live camels and acrobats, as well as a traditional fireworks display at the end.

Barcelona’s parade was also slightly different this year featuring new costumes, a giant puppet and all the kings on one float, instead of three separate ones. 

Last year both Madrid and Barcelona held televised ceremonies welcoming the arrival of the Magi with no members of the public allowed.

Christmas gifts are traditionally given in Spain and in many Latin American countries on January 6th, when Western Christianity observes Epiphany, the visit the three kings made to the baby Jesus.

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