Biscay's capital gets full of lights, colours and music at Christmas. The massive lighting turns the main streets of Bilbao into a huge setting brimming with Christmas carols and all sorts of ornaments. Moreover, shops, bars and restaurants decorate their facilities and shop windows on the occasion. Many of them participate in the traditional Shop Window Contest that has been taking place for the last twenty-four years in Biscay.
The most emblematic characters on these days
We cannot forget the fondest figures on these days: Olentzero and the Three Wise Men. The good-natured Olentzero departs from Gran Vía to Arriaga Theatre on December 23rd to travel through the streets of Bilbao and share out presents on December 24th. Almost two weeks later, on January 5th, the Three Wise Men and their crew will parade through the streets of Bilbao, departing from Gran Vía and ending up at the City Council together with thousands of inhabitants, as a prelude to sharing out presents by night.
Various points throughout the Biscayan capital house numerous crib exhibitions of all kinds every year. Perhaps the most outstanding exhibition is the one that is in the portico of the church of San Nicolás de Bari, where spectacular audiovisual cribs are on display. As usual, the Diocesan Museum will be holding a worldwide crib exhibition as well as the Holy Week Procession.
Craftsmanship occupies a fundamental section of the Christmas planning. As in previous years a big marquee is set up next to the Arriaga Theatre. Artisans from the Basque Country and different regions of the Spanish State will place stands with their works. Moreover, Bailén Street, which is opposite the FEVE station, will install stalls with precious metals, necklaces, bracelets and rings. This is a splendid occasion for Christmas shopping.
Santo Tomás Fair
One of the most celebrated festivities in Bilbao is Santo Tomás. On December 21st thousands of people fill the streets of the old town on the occasion of a day that pays tribute to the farmers and where the best local produce will be ready to be bought.
But then again, it had to be this way. The little ones also enjoy these dates. The Christmas Amusement Park for Children, PIN, will be set up within the Bilbao Exhibition Centre from December 15th to January 5th.
As has been the case in previous years, the Rekalde San Silvestre race will take place on the last day of the year, a race that attracted more than 1,000 runners last year.