As our monthly calendars were turned over at the weekend, there are now just 3 weeks to go before Christmas day, when our attentions might not only turn to peace and goodwill, but also some of the exciting events that are on offer here, locally.

As Father Christmas has taken his seat for the foreseeable future, until the three kings take over the role, this weekend saw the Zenia Boulevard illuminate their Christmas decorations, ahead of the rest of the Orihuela Costa, where the official street lights and decorations will be turned on during the official ceremony on Thursday evening at 6pm outside the little white church of La Zenia, two hours before the same lights are switched on in the city of Orihuela, counteracting previous complaints that the coast is always last.

Thursday also sees the official Christmas party celebrated at the Centro Cívico, with doors opening at 11:00, before food is served a short time later. Booking must be done in advance though, so you had better hurry if you want to enjoy this one.

Plans for the Christmas market are still going ahead, with a view to that event taking place on the car park alongside the Zenia Boulevard, where an ice rink is already being enjoyed by visitors of all ages, opening on the 20th of December until the 23rd, with traditional Christmas gifts, handcrafts, food and more, for those little extra special presents for the ones you wish to treat.

In Orihuela City, the commercial department has also organized a number of special events, mostly aimed at the younger generation, including bouncy castles at the Plaza del Salvador, along with a “Roterball” at the glorieta Gabriel Miró, and a number of workshops featuring such activities as origami, all based around the weekends later in the month, with a mechanical bull also joining in the fun for the January holiday weekend.

For a more refine form of cultural entertainment in Orihuela, there are the likes of the Russian National Ballet performing Sleeping Beauty at the Teatro Circo, or perhaps Handel´s Messiah, which is on this weekend, as well as special musical concert on Christmas day. Another option for the city of Orihuela could be one of their cultural walking tours, the first which starts this week, offering a guided walk which includes traditional sweets, the first tour of a campaign which will run through to March.

In Torrevieja, The Nutcracker ballet is performed at the Teatro Municipal this week, which also coincides with celebrations which will see two outdoor concerts, paella at the port, a “Mascletá”, fireworks and more, including the appearance of “Gigantes y Cabezudos” on the streets of the city, which, for those yet to experience them, are giants with oversized heads.

Torrevieja will also play host to a Christmas market, again from the 20th of December, and a variety of themed concerts including carols and traditional songs, as well as music and even entertainment for the children.

As the traditional British celebrations come to a close, we then move into the more traditional Spanish offerings, with Torrevieja and both Orihuela City and the coast offering the three kings Parade, although the Orihuela offerings had been subject to some changes in routes, with the security services learning the lessons after a tragedy in Málaga last year.

On the Orihuela Costa, the parade will start on the waste land near to the unfinished secondary school, which also avoids problems with blocking access to the N-332, and will include the usual floats, donkeys, bulls, drummers and even a few angels, with the route heading parallel to the motorway, before turning to go behind the Zenia Boulevard, where the animals will remain, and then ending inside the shopping centre where their majesties will hold audience for those children who have been “good”.

But we must also remember that although Christmas brings great joy for most, it is not a great time for some. Support groups such as the Samaritans are gearing up for their busiest time of year, whereas others are doing what they can to make the season that little bit better for those in need. We at The Leader are still continuing to collect food which will be given to local charities to go directly to those in need, to which we say thank you to those already donated and still extend the appeal to help with anything you can, however big or small. Similarly, the orihuela costa town hall is now collecting toys, with a large collection box available which they hope to fill and again, give directly to those children who may not be facing the greatest time of year.

As with all of the events, they are subject to change and we will keep you informed through the What´s On guide in The Leader, but more information can also be obtained by contacting the town halls direct.

As for us, we too will be taking a little bit of time off, with our last edition being out on the 23rd of December, returning once again on the 13th of January. Our offices will remain open for some of the period, operating normally until the 23rd of December, on Christmas Eve we are open until noon, then we will only be opening on the 30th and 31st of December, and again on the 2nd and 3rd of January, from 09:30 until 14:00, the rest of the time we too will be eating, drinking and being merry, which is not a sight we would like you to see, and so, our doors will be closed apart from those times.

Exite Radio will still be on air right through the entire period though, with a range of specialist Christmas shows of music, talk, entertainment, thrillers, comedies and more, with details to follow nearer the time. For now, as we chomp our way through our chocolate advent calendars, we can all prepare for a Christmas and New Year to beat all others.

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