As they do every year, the Three Kings of the Orient will arrive in Barcelona on the afternoon of 5 January, accompanied by the traditional cortege of magic creatures, pages and helpers of all kinds, plus loads of sweets for everyone waiting at some point along their route. The boldest will be able to deliver a letter to one of the 80 postmen travelling with the Kings. What’s more, any onlookers should take a good look at the carriages that Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar will be using for the first time this year!
This festive occasion will start at 4.30 pm, at the Moll de la Fusta wharf, where His Majesties will arrive on board the schooner Santa Eulàlia. Apart from crowds of girls and boys, they will be welcomed by the mayor of the city, Ada Colau. They will be given a magic key that will enable them to open all the homes in Barcelona to leave presents, but only during the early hours of 6 January. They will also receive bread and salt, an ancestral sign of hospitality.
Then, at 6 pm, following the traditional welcome ceremony, the parade will set off from Parc de la Ciutadella. Melchior, Gaspar and Balthazar will greet the public from spectacular carriages, accompanied by a cortege of pages, assistants and royal postmen. The parade will go through the Ribera neighbourhood up Via Laietana, then proceed along Carrer de Pelai, Ronda de Sant Antoni, Carrer de Sepúlveda to Plaça d’Espanya and finish at Avinguda de Maria Cristina at around 9 pm.
The Three Kings parade has a long history in Barcelona, with the first references dating from the 18th century, although it did not formally start until the start of the 20th century, when it was a charitable event. Today’s parade has been held every year since 1942, when Barcelona City Council started it up again following the Civil War. Over all these years, a model has gradually taken shape with figures and characteristics that make it unique.