Compared to the UK, every night is late night shopping in Spain. But this Saturday evening shopping in Denia was extra special.
With more than 8000 candles lining the streets in the old town and Marques de Campo, shoppers enjoyed special prices and promotions in more than 100 retail outlets, which stayed open till after 11pm so that everyone could finish their Christmas shopping. Red carpet lined the approaches to the stores, and candlelight mingled with the seasonal decorations to rival Oxford Street at its finest. The Plaça Glorieta in particular had surpassed itself, with the rivers of light reflected in the fountains, drawing admiring crowds from the surrounding area. This important night for local commercial business has become bigger every year, and truly marks the start of the Christmas festivities in Denia.
The mild winter night brought every generation out onto the streets of the town, and families were entertained by dancers, music and flash-mobs at the main retail junctions. Entertainers delighted all age groups, and the restaurants and bars had a great night too as the whole town celebrated and got into the Christmas spirit.
Of course for most of us extranjeros, the 16th December was a little late for gift shopping – when you’re reliant on Correos to stand in for Santa, you need to get your packages away earlier in the month. And not for the first time I found most retailers missing a trick when it came to promoting their wares, by not mentioning the one-night discount on offer until you got to the till – where it came as a lovely surprise, but did nothing to influence the decision. Marketing in Spain sometimes still feels rather behind the times.
However all the shops were busy, and it was great to see the town bustling and thriving late into the night, and charity stalls doing good trade along the pedestrianised main thoroughfare. As a busy international port and far more than a holiday resort, Denia doesn’t suffer the seasonal downtime afflicting other local towns to the same extent – but naturally winter is always quieter, and it was lovely to see the crowds out in force just as for any favourite fiesta.