Three Kings Parade (Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos)
Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar are three names that you probably aren’t familiar with but you will know them better as the three kings that visited Jesus in the nativity story. Spain is a country rich in Catholic mythology and the Three Kings Parade in January is one of the most special traditions.
On the evening of the 5th January the darkening streets of Barcelona will quietly fill with throngs of locals looking out for the cavalcade. You can expect a calmer, more fun atmosphere than that of many street festivals that happen in Barcelona. In fact, the children scrabbling to get the most sweets thrown by the kings and their servants from the floats will be the most mischievous thing you’ll see.
The route of the parade winds its way through the dusk draped streets from the docks where the Kings have symbolically arrived on a ceremonial boat, to the official start at Parc de la Ciutatdella. From there the line of floats heads past the University, Ciutat Vella and Playa d’Espanya and on up Av. Reine Maria Cristina to the Magic Fountain of Montjuic.
You will find that many shops will be selling a particular kind of ring-shaped cake called the Roscón de Reyes, the cake of Kings. Tradition says that baked inside the light, brioche type cake is a trinket and a dried bean. If you got the trinket you were king for the day and if you got the bean you had to pay for the cake, so be careful to pick the right piece.
Unlike the children in Barcelona, who will be going to bed early after cleaning their shoes and expecting presents in the morning, you are likely to be heading out after the cavalcade has finished. There are quite a few bars and restaurants in the Montjuic area; try authentic Spanish fayre at Poble Espanyol.