Christmas fairs in Alicante town

belenAnyone planning to do a little light Christmas shopping in Alicante could do worse than to visit one of the two Craft Fairs organised in this town by craft association AMATA. In the weekend of 15 and 16 December, a small but very select craft fair will be set up in the Plaza de la Montañeta. A few days later, from Thursday the 20th till Monday the 24th of December the same stalls plus some 30 more will set up shop in the beautiful Plaza Gabriel Miró, under the enormous ficus trees and around the fountain.

 

Between 15 and 20 stalls, all different, all offering you the chance to find really original Christmas presents, will create a nice surrounding to the municipal Nativity scene that is traditionally set up in the Montañeta square - on the doorstep of the provincial tax office (Hacienda). A proper Spanish "belén" does not only consists of the traditional Nativity scene, but usually includes a whole village with lots of houses, with shepherds and their flocks, dogs, geese, fishermen, housewives doing their shopping, farmers working on the land and blacksmiths at their anvil. A "belén" set up by a Town Hall often consists of several different scenes (the Annunciation, the Nativity itself, the three Kings dropping by and the Flight to Egypt - a very full programme in a comparatively small space).

The Craft Fair in the Plaza Gabriel Miró is a somewhat bigger affair. Not only more stalls (some 50 in all), but also a live Nativity scene, small farm animals, live music, a miniature Ferris wheel and a merry-go-round, table games and workshops for the older children. The square, which is generally known as the Plaza de Correos (Post Office Square), has become a place well known for its restaurants and bars: in good wheather some 7 or 8 establishments set up their terraces under the big ficus trees. The ficus trees are gigantic versions of the rubber plant found in some English homes - but these would each need a plant pot the size of a small swimming pool!

The craft stalls will offer everything from hand-made candles to shawls, wooden toys and puppets, ceramics, handbags made of leather, jewelry in silver and bone, copper and leather, plastic and glass. Participants, as always, are carefully chosen to avoid duplication of designs and everything is made by the people at the stall - nothing is imported or made in a factory. It's all original, and much less expensive than anything you can buy in a gallery.

Quite a few people at the stalls will be at work - a bookbinder, a smith complete with forge and anvil, various people with saws, paint brush or a small loom. Most of the time SolReDo, a small band of slightly crazy musicians, will be livening up the fair. Elsewhere there is a tavern, with roast meat and beer - nothing like the open air to stimulate the appetite - or you can try a pancake filled with chocolate or half-a-dozen other sweet or savory fillings. And there are some stalls with all sorts of preserved food made using family recipes.

Opening times of both markets will be from 11 am till 2 pm and then again from 5 till 9 pm, on the Monday 24 December only in the morning. More information (also in English) on 639 979 678. Photographs of other markets organised by Amata on www.amata.es. From the Torrevieja area you can take a tour with David's Coach Trips (966 785 910; in English) which includes a visit to the second fair.

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