Buitrago del Lozoya’s live nativity scene is one of the most famous folk performances in the Community of Madrid. It is also one of the best-known displays of its kind in all of Spain.
In 1988, a group of townspeople from Buitrago del Lozoya decided to implement an idea inspired by a project carried out in the town of Bàscara as well as by the pastorelas of towns in the Sierra de Madrid. Thus the town’s live nativity scene was born, consisting of just 80 actors and 11 scenes in its first year. Due to the success of this first performance, the event was staged again the following year. In 1991, it became necessary to create an organization to plan and prepare for the event. The nativity continues to develop year after year: the technology is improved, the number of actors and scenes increases, and its reputation is progressively growing, reflected in the number of spectators in attendance each year. Over time, Buitrago del Lozoya’s live nativity scene has garnered major awards including the international Mundo Teatre prize in 2000 and the title of Festival of Regional Touristic Interest in 2001. In 2014, the local government decided to rechristen one of the town squares in Buitrago del Lozoya with the name Plaza del Belén Viviente.
Today, the display includes over 200 actors who represent nearly 40 scenes. Spanning various places and events from the Bible, the people of Buitrago del Lozoya recreate scenes including the Prophets, the Annunciation, the Market, the Carpenter’s Workshop, the Temple in Jerusalem, Herod’s Palace, the Shepherds, and the Three Wise Men. The streets of the historical quarter serve as the stage for all these episodes. During the four days of the festival, the living nativity scene takes place around 6:00 in the evening, and depending on the turnout, there may be a second performance two hours afterwards.
Over time, this festival has become one of the main wintertime events in the Community of Madrid, attracting an increasing number of visitors from other parts of Spain. For a few days, this unique event with great symbolic value transforms Buitrago del Lozoya into one of Spain’s main centers of religious celebration.
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