The culmination of Christmas and New Year celebrations in Alicante is the arrival of the Three Kings into Alicante overnight on 5 January, riding horses and leaving presents for the children. On "El Día de los Reyes" Spain celebrates the biblical adoration of baby Jesus by the Three Kings, also known as the Three Wise Men or Magi. In Spain ‘Los Reyes Magos’ - Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar - play a similar role to Santa Claus.
Parents encourage children to write to the Three Kings with their gift requests and in some houses children leave their shoes outside the door so that the Three Kings will fill them with gifts, often leaving bigger presents alongside. Just as children in many other places leave out some food and drink for Santa, and a carrot for Rudolph, Spanish children make sure to leave a drink for each of the Three Kings and some food and drink for their camels - as this is the only night of the year when the animals eat and drink. Every Spanish town and city has a procession (cabalgata) this night where tons of sweets will be thrown from the passing floats, much to the delight of the children (and adults). In Madrid for example there are well over 100,000 people in the crowds!
The streets of Alicante are decked out with colourful lights, nativity scenes can be viewed in open spaces and shop windows and, to the accompaniment of music, the Three Kings arrive in Alicante. This is the Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos anxiously awaited for by children as this is the night their presents arrive. During the parade through the streets of Alicante, Melchior, Gaspar and Balthasar throw sweets and small gifts to thousands of excited children. Even if there is no rain forecast , children will brandish umbrellas as they line the parade route. The reason becomes clear as the Three Kings approach and the umbrellas are opened and turned upside down to catch the handfuls of candies thrown into the crowds. After the parade tradition says that children should go to bed early after cleaning their shoes and leaving them where the Three Kings can find them. In the morning presents are opened.
On 6th January (Dia del Los Reyes), and a special cake is made and sold all over Spain. Called Roscon de Reyes, they are circular pastries (tasting similar to hot cross buns) and are covered in sugar and fruit flavoured jellies. Inside are plastic toys as presents, so be careful but anyone lucky enough to find one of these hidden gifts will be blessed with good luck for the New Year!