Three Kings parades: What are the Covid restrictions across Spain?

In a bid to prevent any further Covid infections, Spain’s towns and cities have introduced Covid measures for their Three Kings parades (La Cabalgata de Reyes) that will be held across the country on Wednesday January 5th. 

Three Kings parades: What are the Covid restrictions across Spain?
Many city authorities have decided that this year the Three Kings shouldn't throw sweets from the floats to children as a means of avoiding more Covid-19 infections. Photo: CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP

Huge Three Kings parades or cabalgatas are traditionally held around Spain on January 5th. 

They are enormous spectacles featuring hundreds of actors – most important of all Melchior, Gaspar and Baltasar, the Three Wise Men – who move through town centres on ornately decorated floats as they greet the children and throw sweets to them. 

READ MORE: Why Spain loves the Three Kings more than Santa

Every city and sizable town usually stages a parade which draws huge crowds of families, but this year will be different as the celebration is coinciding with the highest Covid infection figures on record in Spain since the pandemic began.

Here are the Covid restrictions and measures for Three Kings parades in Spain’s biggest cities this year.

Not all cities and towns that are holding cabalgatas are included below as there are too many to name, but the general Covid restrictions being implemented by authorities include capacity limits, pre-booking a place in some cases, choosing wider streets for the parade to avoid crowds, a ban on throwing sweets from the floats and “static” parades rather than the usual mobile parade through the streets.

Madrid: The Spanish capital made 7,000 tickets available for this year’s closed off Three Kings parade, but these sold out in just 12 minutes. That means that only a select few ‘early birds’ will be able to attend Madrid’s cabalgata this year as city authorities try to prevent further Covid infections. As an extra safety measure, no sweets will be thrown to the children from the floats as the tradition marks.

Barcelona: Three Kings Parades in Barcelona and the Catalan region won’t have capacity limits but authorities will require attendees aged 6 and over to wear a face mask, and they are also recommended for children aged 3 to 5. People with Covid-19 symptoms or with a positive result, as well as their close contacts, must not attend. 

Bilbao: The Three Wise Men will not parade through the streets but will greet Bilbao’s children at the Bilbao Arena, although pre-booked tickets are required to attend. 

San Sebastián: The coastal Basque city will host a longer parade to avoid crowds and will distribute sweets in hand to children rather than throw them from the floats. 

Seville: The City Council has changed the route to avoid narrow streets and will opt instead for the parade to take place along wider avenues.

Granada: The cabalgata route will go from being 2km long to 8km to avoid crowds.

Córdoba: The historic city will also expand its cabalgata route.

Huelva: Huelva will not change its usual Three Kings parade plans.

Málaga: Mayor Francisco de la Torre announced on December 28th that the royal parade will not be cancelled but will require “more security measures”.

Valencia: Authorities in the eastern city initially planned a parade with fewer floats but it was finally decided it will be a “static” parade in the city’s bull ring rather than a moving cabalgata through the streets.

Alicante: The Costa Blanca city has kept its mobile parade plans, although it will expand the route to avoid crowds, as well as keeping capacity checks throughout. 

Palma de Mallorca: The cabalgata in the Balearic capital will go ahead as usual but with “extra security measures”.

Tenerife: In Santa Cruz de Tenerife, where the Three Wise Men usually arrive by helicopter at the Heliodoro Rodríguez López football stadium, this tradition will not go ahead this year but there will be a parade through certain neighbourhoods.

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria: Authorities in the Canaries’ biggest city have cancelled their static parade plans and instead the Three Kings will tour five city districts in their floats from 11:30 am to 8:00 pm.

Valladolid: The Castilla y León city will keep its moving parade but choose wider streets for its route.

Salamanca: The university city has extended its route to avoid crowds.

Vigo: The Galician city will hold a static parade from 11am to 8pm. 

A Coruña: Authorities have decided to go ahead with the usual parade but with capacity limits.

Santander: The Cantabrian capital will hold a static parade around its cathedral.

Zaragoza: The Aragonese capital will hold a smaller cabalgata starting at 6pm in a bid to avoid big crowds.

EXPLAINED: The Covid restrictions in your region of Spain this Christmas

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EXPLAINED: Spain’s new rules for unvaccinated non-EU tourists

Unvaccinated third-country nationals such as Americans and Britons are now allowed to go on holiday to Spain. Here are the requirements, documentation needed and other important information they should know before booking their flights to Spain. 

EXPLAINED: Spain's new rules for unvaccinated non-EU tourists

What’s the latest?

Spain has opened up to unvaccinated non-EU/Schengen tourists for the first time in more than two years.

Previously it was not possible for third-country nationals to visit Spain for non-essential reasons such as a holiday, seeing family or spending time in a second home in Spain unless they were fully vaccinated against Covid-19 (plus booster after 9 months) or recovered from the illness in the past six months. 

From May 21st 2022, unvaccinated tourists and other visitors from outside of the EU can travel to Spain if they show proof of a negative Covid-19 test, the Spanish government confirmed on Saturday. These are the same rules that apply to EU nationals and residents.

Spain’s testing requirements for non-EU/Schengen tourists apply to those aged 12 and older, children under that age are exempt from having to prove testing, vaccination or recovery.

What kind of Covid test do I need to get done to travel to Spain?

In scientific terms, Spain wants a diagnostic test that’s either a NAAT (nucleic acid amplification test, such as an RT-PCR, RT-LAMP, TMA) or a RAT (rapid antigen test).

In layman’s terms, that’s either a PCR test, which must be carried out in the 72 hours prior to departure to Spain, or an antigen test, 24 hours prior to departure.

Covid tests accepted are those authorised by the European Commission and must have been performed by healthcare professionals, therefore self-tests are not valid. 

What do I need to show to travel to Spain if I’m unvaccinated?

You need to show an official certificate or supporting document which shows the negative result of your Covid test. Your country may have a system in place that allows you to upload your negative result to an app. 

The document must be the original, in Spanish, English, French or German, and may be shown in paper or electronic format. If you can’t get it in these languages, it must be accompanied by a translation into Spanish by an official body.

The document that accredits the diagnostic test has to include the date the sample was taken, identification and contact details of the centre performing the analysis, technique used and negative result.

Spanish authorities recognise the UK’s NHS Covid Pass and others that fulfil the above criteria. 

Do I need to fill out a health control form?

This depends. Currently, 40 non-EU countries (and territories) have joined the EU Digital COVID Certificate system, based on EU equivalence decisions. 

That means that people from these nations who have a vaccination, testing or recovery certificate issued by the competent authorities of their country do not need to fill in Spain’s Travel Health form.

The countries with EU Digital Covid Certificate equivalence are Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Benin, Cabo Verde, Colombia, El Salvador, Faroe Islands, Georgia, Indonesia, Israel, Iceland, Jordan, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Panama, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Togo, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the Crown Dependencies (Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man), Uruguay, The Vatican and Vietnam.You can also double-check here in case more countries are added.

If your non-EU country isn’t on the list then you have to fill in the SPTH form and upload your test certificate, which gives you a QR Code you’ll be asked for at the airport. 

READ MORE: A step-by-step guide on how to fill out Spain’s Health Control Form

Do I have to wear a mask on the plane?

Yes, you will most likely be required to wear a mask on the planes to and from Spain, although you don’t have to wear one inside Spanish airports anymore.

READ MORE: What are Spain’s mask rules for travel?

Is there any other travel rule I need to know about?

If you’re not an EU citizen or resident, then you should check if you require a Schengen visa to travel to Spain, as this will depend on your nationality.

Keep in mind that you will also have to abide by other Schengen rules, such as not being able to spend more than 90 out of 180 days in Spain and other Schengen countries.

Does Spain still have domestic Covid-19 rules?

Spain has lifted the vast majority of its Covid-19 rules, so there are no longer curfews, forced closures, limits on the number of people per shop or restaurant or Covid pass requirements to gain entry to buildings. 

Masks are no longer required outdoors and there is no face covering mandate for the majority of indoor public settings, except for on public transport, in hospitals, pharmacies, other health clinics and care homes.

READ MORE: What happens when tourists get Covid-19 while on holiday in Spain?