If you are aiming to drive from Marbella to Malaga on a Friday night with two teenagers in tow, make sure they’ve eaten first before venturing out, as you could be stuck in the car for longer than expected!
It’s the first weekend of December, when it seems, that every town along the Costa del Sol is holding its annual version of a Christmas market inauguration.
Choosing to save for another night the numerous events on offer by the Marbella town hall this year during the festive season, we, a gaggle of 40 somethings reduced to an average of 30 somethings thanks to two teenage daughters, decided to check out the Christmas lights of Calle Larios (Larios street) in Malaga.
Calle Larios at Christmas time is well known for its extravagant lights display that adorns its entire length. The dancing lights display this year is presented at 18.30, 20.00 and 21.30 every day and with just 3 shows, it was a spectacular that we didn’t wish to arrive late for!
We missed the first turn-off and if you happen to be an expat Marbellero whose usual reason for heading to Malaga is for the airport or IKEA, infrequent jollies to the marina or old town are accessed by driving the same, sure and familiar route that takes you along the promenade aka A7-Airport-Puerto.
Any diversions or wrong turns land you smack bang in the middle of town where GPS is no help when all traffic is being sent wayward because of roadworks and a multitude of yellow diversion signs.
Two hungry and by now moaning teenagers doesn’t help either!
Eventually, after we’d circled El Corte Ingles at least 8 times, we chanced our way out of the chaos by picking out an obstruction-free road, that fortunately lead us to the beautiful sight of Europe’s largest itinerant ferris wheel (Noria de Malaga), looking very majestic against the black sky. Being back on our familiar ‘Puerto route’ settled our nerves and from there it was easy. Parking Muelle Uno (muelleuno.com) is a large underground carpark enabling you to park directly under the new marina which is a stones throw from the old town and Calle Larios.
As you turn in to walk up Calle Larios and gaze up at the illuminated arch consisting of 2,630 micro-led cords, 2 domes and cathedral-style windows, you won’t be surprised to know that Malaga this year is dazzling its main tourist zones with a total of 2,062,104 energy efficient LED lights of which nearly half are in Calle Larios alone!
Packed with pedestrians taking in the vibrant ambiance, street artists and Christmas styled shop window displays, Calle Larios had already exceeded our expectations fun and festive spirit.
Of course, there is another reason for visiting Malaga on a Friday night, not just the lights, but for wine and tapas.
We took a side street and headed for Volapie. Very happy with our young waitress whose slightly clumsy manner meant that way too large measures of the house wine was sloshed into our glasses, we snacked on croquetas, jamón and queso whilst waiting for the dancing lights show to begin.
The lights are sequenced to dance for around 10 minutes to a variety of songs and Christmas carols. The Spanish company based in Puente Genil (Córdoba), responsible for the Larios illuminations is Ximénez Group.
It is internationally recognised for its decoration and artistic lighting and has a 60,000 square metre showroom presenting the latest trends in illumination technology and design innovations.
Our next pit stop was DBRANDER for a tabla of jamón bellota. Seating is not easy to come by at wine o’clock so we all huddled around the only outside table there was, by the front door, being careful not to obstruct the waiter as he darted in and out with trays ladened with jamón y queso, patatas bravas, berenjenas…. (ham, cheese, tapas style chips, and fried aubergines).
Our teenage girls managed to strike lucky with a terrace table for two beside a lovely warm heater!
Earlier memories of traffic despair were soon forgotten as our international group of ladies absorbed the lively atmosphere of Calle Larios and its cosy corners.
And as we made our way out of the still bustling area even at 1am(!) we were already ear-marking the eating places that we shall try out on our next visit!
The Christmas lights will be showing until January 6th, with the arrival of the Night of the Kings, so be sure to visit Malaga during this time.
Where else are you likely to see almost one million lights in one street?!