The Three Kings In Barcelona

A Festival For Children

The stars of The Three Kings in Barcelona are Gaspar, Melcior and Baltasar - Els Reis Mags d'Orient, better known in English as The Three Wise Men.

The main Cavalcade of the Magi in Barcelona, starts with the arrival of the Three Kings at the Port of Barcelona on the night of the January 5th.

The procession then makes through Barcelona city centre up Via Laietana to Plaça Catalunya and finally on to the Magic Fountain at Montjuïc.

As this is a children's festival, there are also Three Kings Cavalcades in the districts and neighbourhoods of Barcelona and all the towns and villages around Catalonia.


The Route of The Kings Cavalcade

The Three Kings of the Orient arrive at the Port of Barcelona aboard a boat and from 18:30 bring their long procession round Barcelona:

  • 18:30h Avinguda Marquès de l´Argentera - Pla de Palau
  • 19:15h Via Laietana
  • 19:35h Plaça Urquinaona – Carrer Fontanella
  • 19:45h Plaça de Catalunya – Carrer Pelai
  • 20:05h Plaça de la Universitat and Ronda de Sant Antoni
  • 20:30h Carrer de Sepúlveda
  • 20:50h Carrer Vilamarí - Avinguda Paral.lel - Plaça d'Espanya
  • 21:20h Finishing at the Magic Fountains of Montjuic

The Three Kings Cavalcade is an enormous event and apart from the floats carrying Gaspar, Melcior and Baltasar themselves, there will be many more patronised by local businesses or community and cultural groups.

It's a colourful and anarchic experience because everyone scrambles for sweets, which are thrown from the floats.

I recommend taking a plasic bag whether you have children or not!

Celebrating Reis At Home

The arrival of Three Kings for Epiphany - January 6th - used to be celebrated in the English-speaking world.

We are all aware of the story of The Three Wise Men, who came bearing Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh and the song The Twelve Days of Christmas finishes with all the presents being given on Twelfth Night.

However, these days January 6th marks the end of Christmas, when the tree and all the decorations are taken down.

The Three Kings in Barcelona and Catalonia, Spain and most of the Spanish-speaking world is still the day when children receive the majority of their Christmas presents.

Just like English children write a letter to Father Christmas, Catalan children write to the Kings.

Having arrived home from the cavalcade on the night of January 5th, children leave water out on the balcony or garden for the camels and torrons for the Three Kings, just like we leave water and mince pies out for Santa and the reindeer.

If they've been good, they wake up the next morning to find lots of presents, but if they've been bad they only get coal.

Most children get a few lumps of candy coal just to remind them to be on their best behaviour.

Kings Day and The Tortell de Reis

Kings Day is a public holiday in Spain and also marks the end of the Christmas festivities as school generally begins again on the following day.

It's always struck me as a bit of a shame that children get their presents at the end of the holidays and only get one day to enjoy them.

However, Three Kings in Barcelona is a very important day and most families will get together for a meal.

Turkey with prunes or seafood are popular choices but there's no typical Kings Day food apart from the Tortell de Reis.

The Tortell de Reis is a ring-shaped cake covered with candied fruit and filled marzipan or cream.

It contains two hidden surprises: a dried broad bean, and a tiny figurine of one of the three kings.

The person who gets the figurine in their cut gets to wear the paper crown in the middle of the cake and is the King for the day.

Typically Catalan, the person who gets the dried fava bean in their cut has to pay for the tortell!

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