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Three Kings, four seasons

Cavalcade in Palma

It's only recently in Spain that the Christmas celebrations have changed from a fairly solemn religious occasion to the commercial shindig that it is today thanks to Bing Crosby and Charles Dickens. Previously, the Spanish exchanged presents on 6th January, the date of the Epiphany; “the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi (Matthew 2:1–12)”

The tradition of present giving still lingers, but the actual celebration of the arrival of the Three Kings, or wise men from the east, seems to get bigger and bigger, with each city, town and village having some form of parade for the Kings, who arrive to present gifts to the children who have been good all year.

The parades are great fun with tons of confetti and tons of sweets being thrown over the large crowds who gather to watch. Obviously, Mallorca's biggest cavalcade is in Palma and it takes place this Sunday 5th January starting at 18:00 when the kings arrive 'from the east' on board the sailing ship Rafael Verdera at the Moll Vell jetty on the harbour.

This year the parade consists of 21 beautifully decorated floats manned by about 300 people forming the retinues of the Kings, musicians and entertainers.

The theme of this year's parade is the four seasons and highly skilled operatives, artists and technicians are putting the finishing touches to the floats representing spring, summer and winter, which are brand new, and autumn which is being renovated from last year. It's having more butterflies, mushrooms, lights, and a smoke machine for the on board druid's cauldron!

The work on the floats starts in summer with the production of the preliminary sketches and then large teams of artisans get to work; artists, painters , carpenters, blacksmiths, electricians and so on who use foam rubber and paint to bring the intricate designs to colourful life.

It's a brilliant occasion, full of noise, colour, and excitement, even if you're not a kid! From the harbour, the parade wends its way around the main streets of Palma – just look out for the safety barriers all along the route – and finishes off at the Casal Solleric at the top of the Plaza del Bourne.

Our photos, from Palma Council's Facebook page, show the progress on completing the floats.