This Christmas visitors are spoiled for choice for things to do and see in Seville.
From traditional nativity scenes to delightfully original handicrafts – which make ideal Christmas presents – as well as camel rides and ice-skating, together with the pretty Christmas lights which make the centre into a magical wonderland. Christmas markets abound all around the centre, fron the Alameda to the Prado.
Luces navideños – Christmas lights
If you are taking a stroll around the monumental part of Seville, don’t miss Avenida de la Constitucion, alongide the cathedral, with a sequence of stunning lights; Mateos Gago with its orange trees backed by the Giralda; and Plaza Nueva, where the colour-changing Christmas tree is set up in front of the illuminated Ayuntamiento.
Mercado Navideño de Artesania – Christmas Craft Market
In Plaza Nueva until 5 January you will find the Mercado Navideño de Artesania. This has over 70 stalls selling handmade jewellery, leather goods, toys and clothes. We found handbags made out of colourful men’s ties, traditional wooden children’s toys, such as pullalong dogs on wheels, old-fashioned balancing tricks, and praxinoscope – an early version of animation. Mini-works of art inhabited a beautifully laid out stall full of antique books (300 years old), with little bronze figures of girls and boys reading in various postures – sitting, standing, lying. Our favourite of these was sitting on the loo.
As always in these fairs you’ll find innumerable presents for ladies – jewellery in gold, silver, leather, titanium, copper… one stand had necklaces of paper woven with copper thread. Nuna is a clothes designer who has woollen wraparound collars and scarves of softest merino mixed with silk, exquisitely dyed.
More manly were the cast-iron toasters, coat hooks, and even roses – the ultimate example of a delicate piece of nature rendered in the strongest, toughest material.
This Mercado Navideño is very well organised and has a programme listing all the exhibitors.
Hours: 11am-3pm, 5pm-9pm; 24 and 31 December 11am-3pm (closed 25 December and 1 January).
Mercados de Encarnacion, Alameda and Prado de San Sebastian
Venture up to the Plaza Encarnacion market and there are further stalls as well as children’s rides – these were more picturesque, with their pointed alpine rooves against the backdrop of the Mushrooms, though less impressive in their contents. The notable exception was Saray of De Jaquete a Broche, who had ingenious roll-up blackboards – fun, colourful fabrics with wipeable “boards” which kids can write on with the chalk and wipe with the cloth provided.
Metropol Parasol also has its own programme of entertainment, including shows during the day.
Up at the Alameda you will find yet another Christmas market, this time with some fairground rides, camel rides and a flea circus. Be prepared to queue for the camel rides, which take in a generous circuit of the Alameda itself.
At the Prado’s market there is also an ice-skating rink.
Mercado de Belenes
The annual Belen market has nativity figures to populate the scenes that you’ll find in many Spanish homes, banks, offices and restaurants. From the asses, cows and goats of Jesus’s stable, to every conceivable type of food, the village houses, wells, and of course the shepherds and Three Kings, this market is great to fun to look around even if you don’t have your own nativity scene. And watch out for belenes all over the city.
Mapping – Plaza San Francisco
You can see the Mapping show, a laser video projection onto the rear façade (Plaza San Francisco) of the Ayuntamiento. This takes place at 7, 8 and 9pm from Monday to Thursday and 7, 8, 9 and 10pm Friday to Sunday.
The shows are usually full of detail, and the images move and change fast, so it’s tricky to catch every part. For this reason, it’s worth sticking around to watch a second time, to make sure you don’t miss anything. Check out some belenes in between shows.
All of these markets and shows are on until 5 January, in time for the arrival of the Three Kings.
Saturnalia at the Antiquarium
Not connected in any way to the Christmas season, but well worth seeing if you’re in the area and have an interest in the history of Seville, is the exhibition of the gates in the city walls. Built by the Moors, these stood for the best part of 700 years, enclosing the entire city centre, from Puerta Jerez to Puerta Macarena and along what’s now the ring road, and had 15 gates located all the way around. You can see paintings, and latterly photographs, of each one, with fascinating historical background; a huge blown-up map of the city showing the locations of all the gates, a 3D film about the gates; contemporary photographs of where each was; and braille models of the puertas. Sevilla Y Sus puertas is on at the Antiquarium, the Roman museum under the Setas. This is on till 22 February.
In the Aquarium, they also have a programme of “Saturnalia” activities – about socially egalitarian Roman festivities held in December in honour of Saturn, the god of agriculture, to celebrate the end of the shortest, darkest says of the year. You can see what they ate and drank, and the games they played. These activities are available on 20 and 21 December.
For a complete programme of all the activities in Seville this Christmas, with opening hours, including zambomba (flamenco carol) concerts and other entertainment, as well as a list of belenes, and QR codes for some events, click here to Sevilla Turismo to download a PDF copy.