Celebrate a Costa del Sol Christmas: Sun, Sea, and Festive Fun

Have yourself a Costa del Sol Christmas!


If you’re looking for less White Christmas and more Sunlight Christmas, then why not choose the Costa del Sol for your festive celebrations? Imagine all the usual seasonal delights like twinkling lights, Santa, Christmas markets, nativity scenes, shows and parades, along with the glitz and glamour of Marbella’s nightlife, the delectable dining, and an Andalusian backdrop of winter sun, sea and stunning scenery.


Not to mention that Málaga has yet again been ranked in the top 20 of the best Christmas destinations in Europe by the European Best Destinations organisation.


A holiday on Spain’s Sunshine Coast is the perfect Christmas gift, and what makes it even more special is that the festivities continue until the 6th of January! More than enough time to create unforgettable Christmas memories.


Here’s what you can expect in the countdown to Christmas and beyond, to the tune of some festive favourites with a linguistic twist.

An image of Malaga port at Christmas
An image of Malaga cathedral

Dreaming of a light Christmas


Christmas light displays are taken very seriously on the Costa del Sol and are truly a sight to behold. In Málaga alone, no less than 500 streets, squares and roundabouts will be decked out with a total of 2.5 million lights! The big switch-on show takes place on 24th November and the streets remain full of sparkle and cheer until midnight on 6th January.


Here are some of the highlights in Málaga:


Not to be missed are the show-stopping illuminations in Calle Larios which, like last year, is adorned with 16 four-metre high celestial angels atop 32 dazzling gold and silver columns. Three spectacular light shows are put on here every evening at 6:30 pm, 8 pm and 10 pm, along with a soundtrack of popular Christmas songs.


Another must-see is the Alameda Principal – the main tree-lined avenue running from east to west through the city – which has been turned into a radiant forest, with 270,000 LED lights hanging from its Ficus and almond trees. Just north of the avenue, the glowing figures of the Three Wise Men will be standing guard at the entrance of the Alcazaba fortress tunnel.


The pedestrianised Calle San Juan is divided into three beautifully decorated zones, with sparkly garlands of golden LED tinsel, hanging vertical lights resembling shimmering teardrops, and a walk-through “enchanted cave” with 300 metres of fairy lights hanging like stalactites.


No less than 76 3D chandeliers light up the streets branching off Calle Larios, with trumpet-blowing angels in Calle Echegaray, and colourful Christmas baubles hanging from ribbons of light in Plaza del Carbón.


Malaga’s cathedral is the backdrop for a video display projected onto the façade of its south tour – using video-mapping technology – with this year’s theme “Angel of Light” playing from 1st December to 4th January at 7 pm, 10 pm and 11 pm.


And to top it all off, Málaga’s Botanical Gardens Christmas show – Angelical: The Kingdom of Christmas Angels – will be open from 1st December to 7th January 2024. As you walk through the stunning gardens, you’ll be transported into fantastical and historical kingdoms with enchanting names like Renewed Hope, Peace and Harmony, Gold and Light, Generosity and Solidarity, Treats and Sweets, and Dreams and Desires. Be sure to book your tickets in advance for what promises to be a delightful experience!


While slightly more modest with its Christmas lighting, Marbella’s Old Town has just as much Christmas spirit, with the main squares and cobbled streets bathed in colour and twinkling lights from the 1st December this year. And there’ll be light and sound shows too, such as the giant angel trumpeters in Plaza de los Naranjos.

Image of Christmas lights in Malaga

Oh Christmas tree…


Although evergreen conifers are just as much a traditional sight in the Costa del Sol as elsewhere in Europe, the native palm, almond and Ficus trees give an exotic feel to the festive ambience and look just as good bedecked with twinkling lights. But don’t worry, you can still go rockin’ around the Christmas tree in many locations throughout Marbella and Málaga. Check out the unique tree in Plaza Jerónimo Cuervo in Málaga, made of gold fabric and glitter.


Santa Claus is coming to town


If you’re on your Christmas break with the kids, Santa will of course be visiting to bring extra cheer and add their wishes to his list. It looks like he’s going to be busy this year – here are just some of his appearances.


In Marbella, Santa has a fixed abode at Casa Papá Noel (Santa’s Grotto) in Parque de la Alameda – don’t forget to bring your children’s letters, and make sure they include their name and address so that Santa can reply! Alternatively, you can take your little ones to Breakfast with Santa, a ticketed event at La Sala restaurant in Puerto Banús at 11 am on 2nd, 9th, 16th and 23rd December (book in advance!).


Father Christmas has made quite a dramatic entrance in previous years: he has been known to (jingle bell) rock in by boat at Marbella Port or fly in by helicopter to La Cañada shopping centre. Perhaps this year he might go back to basics with his trusty sleigh and reindeer…


For Santa Claus appearances in Málaga, head to Chocoland in Muelle Uno, an open-air mall on the waterfront set up as a Christmas wonderland. Ho, ho, hope you’ll have a great time!


Deck the stalls


There’s no shortage of Christmas markets on the Costa del Sol during the festivities. Málaga has not one but three, on Paseo del Parque, in Plaza de la Marina and on Malaga’s wharf Muelle Uno. El Mercadillo del Muelle Uno has once again been voted one of the best Christmas markets in Spain by National Geographic. You’ll find a huge variety of seasonal products, from handcrafted decorative items such as nativity scenes, to typical Spanish and Andalusian edible delights. And if the kids get bored of browsing, there’s a Ferris wheel, merry-go-rounds and the white-bearded, red-suited man himself!


Marbella’s main Christmas market is in Parque de la Alameda, but there are other regular street markets which are now brimming with Christmas-themed stalls, including the one on Plaza Antonio Banderas in Puerto Banús. Around Marbella Arena (the former bullring), there is a bustling artisan market every Saturday and Sunday, selling everything from local fresh fruit and vegetables to handmade gifts, vintage jewellery and art. With live music and takeaway food stalls too, you could spend the whole day here soaking up the atmosphere.

Marbella City
Areia Restaurant

Away in a manger


Nativity scenes are an art form here, and Málaga has a total of 81 this year, ranging from traditional to “living nativities” and everything in between. The biggest is set up in the Town Hall and extends over 140 m2 with more than 400 figures and many beautiful water features, such as fountains, waterfalls, windmills and aqueducts. Lighting effects reproduce dawn, dusk, and moon- and starlit skies and the whole scene is accompanied by music. Very much worth a visit! Opening hours are 10 am to 2 pm and 5 pm to 9 pm and entry is free.


In Marbella, head to Plaza de la Iglesia for a traditional nativity, Parque de la Alameda for a modern version made with Playmobil figures, and El Angel botanical gardens for a real life nativity reenactment.


Let it show, let it show, let it show


The streets and squares come alive with music and dancing over the Christmas holidays, with choirs and bands singing and playing their hearts out: everything from traditional carols to jazz and gospel and of course the customary Andalusian flamenco.


If you’re passionate about ballet, two family favourites are running this year. The Nutcracker is showing on 8th December at Teatro Ciudad de Marbella and on 29th December at the Cervantes Theatre in Málaga, where you can also see Swan Lake on 7th January.


Looking for a little more Christmas magic? You’ll find it in Mágica Navidad at Marbella’s Palacio de Congresos (Conference Centre) on 23rd December from 5 pm to 8 pm. Magician and illusionist Nebek will be taking audiences on a Christmas-themed magical journey, with a little help from Santa himself and one of his elves. Children can participate and even get a selfie with Santa!


Traditional flamenco shows – known as “Zambombas” (after the friction drum of the same name) – are held in squares and courtyards all over the Costa del Sol during the month of December, with a focus on communal singing and dancing and simply having a wonderful Christmas time! For a more formal event, you can experience Christmas carols done the Andalusian way in the show “Así Canta Jerez en Navidad”, on 30th December at Marbella’s Conference Centre.


The celebrations culminate in the yearly 5th January procession or “cabalgata de reyes” (Kings’ Parade), where the Three Kings and many other favourite characters ride through the streets on floats, throwing sweets and toys to the children. This Spanish tradition adds the final flourish to a memorable programme of joyful and triumphant events that truly captivate the magic of Christmas.


Have a holly jolly (Costa del Sol-y) Christmas!


There are so many more activities on offer that will make your children feel Christmassy, including ice rinks, rides, puppet shows, free parties, concerts, competitions and workshops. And for a bit of Christmas hilarity, on 28th December it’s “Dia de Los Santos Inocentes“, the Spanish version of April Fools’ Day, when people have free rein to play harmless jokes and pranks on friends and family. Don’t necessarily believe what you see and read in the media that day!


All I want for Christmas is food


You can’t possibly come to the Costa del Sol without treating your tastebuds to the bounty of yummy local products, like hot chocolate and churros, buñuelos and other festive fare from the Christmas markets and shops. If you like nougat, try the countless flavours of turrón, or the Spanish Christmas cake Roscón de Reyes (King’s cake), which traditionally has a small figurine baked into it. Will you be the lucky one to find it?


At the more sophisticated end of the gastronomic spectrum, Marbella is famous for its high-end restaurants which go all out on Christmas eve and New Year’s eve. Gourmet galas abound where you can sample seriously delicious Spanish and international cuisine, such as Wagyu beef and truffles and acorn-fed Iberian ham, accompanied by live music. Or you can indulge in oysters and caviar washed down with the best champagne to toast in the New Year.

Costa del Sol Christmas - Marbella Club

Happy New Year


The countdown to the New Year in Spain goes hand in hand with 12 “lucky grapes”, which you eat one at a time per chime of the midnight bells to bring you lots of luck for the coming year. Head to Plaza de la Constitución for New Year’s eve celebrations in Málaga, where there will be a free concert by the band Orquesta D’Vértigo, a goodie bag including a party hat, streamers, mask, Hawaiian garland and of course those lucky grapes. The party starts at 9 pm, with the countdown accompanied by a spectacular multimedia show, and dancing until 1:30 in the morning.


In Marbella, Plaza de los Naranjos next to the Town Hall is where the action is on New Year’s eve, with an early evening party for the little ones and much merriment until the wee hours for everyone else. It will be anything but a Silent Night…


And once the festive fiestas are over, recuperation and relaxation are definitely on the menu. Here are a few ideas for a New Year, New You. Let the sun, sea and sand revive you at some of Marbella’s top beach clubs and restaurants.


La Plage Casanis is a contemporary beach club on Playa del Elviria, serving fresh, locally sourced food in a beautiful beachfront setting, perfect for a restful lunch or dinner. But if you haven’t yet had your fill of parties, the club has its regular Sunday Sunset Ritual, where the beach becomes a dance floor and you can boogie the night away to the sound of music and waves crashing on the shore!


la plage casanis marbella nightclubplage casanis



The famous Marbella Club is a beachfront paradise where you can truly unwind. At the spa resort, you can soothe away the stresses of the season with Thalasso treatments, tailored workouts for body and mind and bespoke wellbeing cuisine made by expert nutritionists using organic fruit and vegetables picked fresh from their gardens.


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Puente Romano beach resort is renowned for its gastronomic excellence, and with more than 20 restaurants and bars, there’s something for everyone. There are many alfresco options, including the legendary Sea Grill and the Chiringuito right on the beach. A state-of-the-art fitness centre and a Six Senses Spa will ensure that you leave completely rejuvenated and ready to face anything!


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Tikitano is surrounded by beautiful palm-fringed gardens on the beachfront in Estepona. The restaurant serves Mediterranean dishes with a nouvelle cuisine twist and is designed for long, lazy lunches gazing out to sea.


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El Ancla beach club at the west end of the San Pedro de Alcántara promenade has a huge saltwater swimming pool with loungers and daybeds facing the sea. The restaurant is well-known for its tasty freshly caught seafood, which you can savour on their large terrace with sweeping views of the Med.


El Ancla Beach Club Restaurantel ancla restaurante


The Trocadero Arena restaurant and beach club, located to the east of Marbella on Playa de Río Real, immediately stands out for its Asian architecture and décor. These Asian influences extend to their menu, an exquisite fusion of Mediterranean and Japanese cuisine. And if you enjoy a cocktail (or two), their experts in mixology will create whatever concoction your heart desires!


The Boho Club is an oasis set in the lush gardens of a private estate in the heart of Marbella, just made for taking it easy. Lounge by the pool with a cool drink, find your flow in one of their yoga sessions in the shaded pergola or sample their artfully prepared Andalusian dishes in the restaurant, gardens or poolside bar.


Alternatively, if relaxing on the water is what floats your boat, how about a sail along the coast with your own private chef on board to whip up some luscious lunch or dinner?


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Here at Marbella Mountain resorts, we are at your service to help with organising or booking your Christmas and New Year celebrations. We’re certain that Yule have the most wonderful time here and we wish you a Feliz Navidad!

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