Saddle Up Here Come The Three Kings

It´s not every day that you see three kings riding camels, magical characters that have stepped out of the pages of story books, and dancers with more moves than any Saturday night reality show. But 5th January is not just every day, it´s 5th January, Reyes Eve, the day before Spanish christmas celebrations and towns and villages across Tenerife were pulling out all the stops.

After a sunny but blustery day, Los Cristianos was a little chilled down by the sea front, some camels were even thinking of wearing human skin coats. Crowds were bigger than ever this year as the anticipation built, I caught up with the floats at their gathering point at Las Vistas beach as final touches were added and costumes were slipped into. The 8pm arrival of the three kings from a boat around by the old quayside was as always optomistic, so it was nearly an hour later that the kings joined the long procession as it began it´s journey up the port road.

Ancient and modern entwined as Carnaval influenced exotic dancers overlapped with cartoon favourites from classic stories and recent Disney movies. A giant book of fairy tales proceeded rows of bunk beds on wheels, full of children ready to dip into the realms of dreamy make believe. The kings were quite far back but were the must see attraction, their arrival was heralded with showers of sweets that were clutched at by a forest of eager young, and not so young hands. Back in the UK the sweets would prpbably be banned as dangerous missiles but thankfully they fly freely for Reyes.

The reason for this celebration is to mark the arrival of the three kings, Gaspar, Melchor, and Baltasar, at the Bethlehem stable armed with gifts for the baby Jesus. The procession ended up at the cultural centre where the outside was transformed into a stable scene looked over by the kings on their thrones. Pre wrapped presents were then pulled from large containers for those lucky children whose parents had handed theirs over earlier, the 6th January is the main day to receive gifts.

As the camels dispersed to return to their luxury hotels, well they can dream, a burst of fireworks lit up the skies to signal the start for the present hungry children about to approach the thrones. It was a glorious evening with magic in the air, bars and restaurants were enjoying the huge boost to their trade and I hope the organisers and participants in the procession will have rewarded themselves with suitable drinks. Creative juices will soon be flowing again as Carnaval season looms in February and March, the party never stops!