The belen viviente

One of the most delightful features of Christmas in Andalucia are the belenes vivientes, or live Nativity Scenes, where many of the townsfolk dress up to take part, using the town's streets, houses and plazas as their stage set. The one in the pretty pueblo blanco (white hilltown) of Arcos de la Frontera in Cadiz claims to be the largest in Spain. Tracing the nativity story from the Visitation to the Birth, it features colourful various scenes with extravagant costumes and flamenco-influenced music, including a Jewish wedding, Roman centurions and King Herod's Palace, complete with belly dancers. (This is last year's belen viviente, but they generally stick to the same pattern.) This one took place at the weekend on Saturday, but you can see others in towns such as Beas in Huelva (on 22, 23, 25, 29 and 30 December; click here to see times).
Blog published on 17 December 2012