ALLARIZ – While cities such as Malaga and Vigo are increasingly investing in more and more lavish Christmas decorations, with millions being spent on them, a small village in northwest Spain is bravely resisting this.
There is no tallest Christmas tree here, or a beautiful Christmas lights show with Christmas carols blasting from loudspeakers that attract tens of thousands of people every day. Yet Allariz, a village of 6,400 inhabitants in the province of Ourense, has been a standout around the holidays for a few years now. This is due to his commitment to sustainability.
You will not find extravagance in December, but subtle decorations that show that Christmas is not about money. “We believe in a more sustainable Christmas. We reuse materials and limit the use of plastic. Our lighting is modest, but every year we surprise our visitors with new creations,” says María López of the tourism office. “Instead of joining the battle of lights of many Spanish cities, we choose a Christmas with fewer resources but more heart,” says López. She also indicates that she spends money that belongs to all residents, so she wants to do so in a balanced manner.
Innovation and sustainability are central
The Christmas decorations in Allariz are an example of creativity and sustainability. The villagers focus on handmade decorations, such as almost 80 dolls that bring the Christmas story to life. “Sustainability is a core aspect of our Christmas. We do not use traditional nativity scenes or Santa Clauses, but ensure that our decorations reflect the historical and natural values of Allariz.”
Community spirit and local pride
In Allariz, Christmas is about more than just decorations. It is a tribute to local culture and traditions. “We emphasise the importance of local products and community spirit. Our decorations are a joint project of the village, including the mayor and municipal officials,” López explains.
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Allariz has been offering a unique Christmas experience since 2017 with its beautifully composed miniature worlds and the simulated post office where children can send their wishes. The village also has a miniature Christmas market with a four-metre high merry-go-round. “This year we have even expanded a miniature world of fairies and elves with a lake and an island, which will enchant both young and old,” said the organisers. In concrete terms, the route that can be taken through the streets of Allariz consists of 11 stops. The Christmas decorations also include a Santa Clause house and even a ski and ice skating station made with dolls.
With a budget of only €9,000 for Christmas decorations, Allariz manages to distinguish itself from cities such as Málaga and Vigo. Yet this small Galician village also attracts many visitors who come especially for the unique Christmas atmosphere. Last year the number of visitors increased by no less than 30% compared to the year before. Besides the decorations, Allariz also offers a rich history, museums and local markets selling quality products from the region.
Why visit Allariz the rest of the year
Allariz offers a unique allure that extends far beyond its innovative Christmas decorations. The picturesque town boasts an enchanting historical centre, recognised as a Historic-Artistic Site since 1971. You can visit six Romanesque churches and numerous noble houses with coats of arms. Furthermore you can admire remnants of ancient walls, old tanning factories and mills.
Allariz is also home to several intriguing museums, including the Fashion Museum and the Toy Museum, which provide insights into the town’s unique heritage. The weekly market offers visitors a chance to get to know their local artisanal products. Think of sheep’s milk cheeses, honey, handmade soaps, donkey milk, artisanal beers, chestnuts, and beef, all sourced from the surrounding Biosphere Reserve.
Nature enthusiasts will find Allariz equally appealing, as the town is nestled in a stunning natural landscape. It is perfect for outdoor activities like hiking and exploring the Galician countryside.