The lighting of the Christmas lights on November 24, 27, and 28 kicks off the Christmas season and acts as the starting signal for the traditional Christmas activities, shopping, as well as the typical cuisine of these dates.
The Nativity Scene Route showcases to visitors an artisan tradition in which numerous businesses and associations participate annually.
The Canto de la Sibil·la (Song of the Sibyl), a moving Christmas song declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, is sung with feeling in churches as emblematic as La Seu.
Active, energetic, fascinating, and seductive: Palma lives and breathes Christmas by showing off all its charms. Attractions that combine popular culture with the most sophisticated face of the Balearic capital and which, during the low season, can be enjoyed in all their splendour – away from the crowds and conglomerations. A lively and captivating city that offers its residents and tourists alike a complete programme full of Christmas activities ranging from the most traditional to the most cosmopolitan and modern.
The show of the initial lighting of the Christmas lights on November 24, 27, and 28 kicks off a month in which we will be able to enjoy well-known traditions, among which the Nativity Scene Route, the Canto de la Sibil·la (Song of the Sibyl), the many Christmas markets dotting the city, and the chance to delight our taste buds with typical local cuisine for the Christmas season all stand out. Thus, Palma is becoming the ideal destination to enjoy a Christmas city break.
A centuries-old tradition as well as a great tourist attraction, the Palma Nativity Scene Route is a must for all those who are travelling to the Balearic capital during the Christmas holidays. In many cultural centres, convents, churches, and even in some commercial establishments, artisan nativity scenes in a great variety of styles and full of details are on display. These nativities, some of which are historical, are spread all throughout Palma.
One of the most famous is the nativity belonging to the Town Hall, better known as the "Belén de Cort”, and which recreates old Palma by incorporating the traditional nativity scene figures into the streets and squares of the city – designed by the Nativity Scene Association of Mallorca. Said institution is also putting on display another of the most important nativities in the city, the one belonging to the Sant Antoni Abad Church, in the Son Ferriol neighbourhood. That scene, together with the one at the Son Roca Church, are the two that will remain on display the longest (until the end of January).
Other very well known and spectacular nativities include the traditional Mallorcan nativity scene at the Sa Nostra Culture Centre and the scenes at the Consell de Mallorca, the Santa Catalina Market, the Capuchinas Convent, the March Palace, the Santa Magdalena Church, and the Sant Roc Church. Although it has gradually disappeared, in some of these nativity scenes a genuinely Mallorcan tradition persists: hiding a little friar among the many Christmas figures in the manger.
In addition, places like El Corte Inglés Alexandre Rosselló (on its fourth floor) and the Museum of Military History and Culture (with a food bank) house impressive nativity scenes full of tradition in which important moments such as the Canto de la Sibil·la (Song of the Sibyl), the arrival of the Magi, and the birth of Christ are represented. Still, there are many more places that round off this list and make this nativity route through the old town, the sea area, and the surroundings of Palma worthwhile so as to capture the true essence of this Mallorcan tradition.
A Medieval Christmas Song deemed to be Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
Another must see of Christmas in Palma is the “Canto de la Sibil·la” ("Song of the Sibyl"), a true artefact of medieval origin that is still celebrated in many Mallorcan municipalities but which is sung more intensely in emblematic churches, like our awe-inspiring Cathedral. Declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2010, this act is present in practically all the churches of the Balearic Islands on the 24th, when the "Misa del Gallo" (Midnight Mass) is celebrated – a matins or vigil to commemorate the birth of Jesus.
This is a song that symbolises the arrival of the Redeemer and the final judgement. It is interpreted by a singer with an angelic voice dressed in an embroidered cape and a white tunic, who stands in front of a sword that is suspended next to their face throughout the act. Without a doubt, this is a solemn occasion that arouses emotion and respect from all visitors.
Christmas Shopping and Gastronomy: Musts during the Holidays in the Balearic Capital
Another of the main activities at this time of year is traditional Christmas shopping. Santa's and the Three Wise Men's visits to the shopping centres are a classic which has become almost imperative during these special dates. Thus, for these avid gift seekers, Palma has different Christmas markets located at strategic points like the Plaza Mayor, the Rambla, Vía Roma, Plaza España, and Plaza de la Porta Pintada.
As for gastronomy, there are many historical sites in Palma where you can taste products that are typical of this time of the year, such as handmade turrón nougat candies, Corazones de San Francisco cakes, marzipan-filled ensaimada pastries, peixde pasta real (sweet fish-shaped pastries), coconut macaroons, and cinnamon cookies.
Discover the passion with which Palma celebrates Christmas HERE.