14th December 2021: Navilandia (Guadalajara, Spain)

Back when I visited Torrejón de Ardoz in November, they were already preparing their Christmas display, which is famous in the area. In a smart way to curve attendance though, this year the town hall decided to charge non-locals to enter. Towns around quickly noted this and decided to organise their own magnificent displays, and in the case of Guadalajara, give a hand to the people who live off the carnivals and fairs, as most regional summer festivals have been cancelled for the last two years. They called it Navilandia (Christmasland), the biggest “Christmas Theme Park” in the region.

The “theme park” is divided in several areas. The first one is the palace Palacio del Infantado, its gardens and the adjacent square. The Palace features the same Christmas tree as last year, and the gardens have been decorated with lights, Disney characters, a Zeus sculpture, music and… dinosaurs. I have no idea what dinosaurs have got to do with Christmas, but you won’t hear me complaining about dinosaurs. They are called the magical gardens Jardines Mágicos del Infantado. There is also a small flea market.

A gothic façade with a Christmas Tree made out of green and gold lights in front, along with some more decorations: Felices Fiestas, another tree, a reindeer made out of light

As I walked up Main Street I saw the traditional Playmobil Nativity they always set in one of the shops. However… I’ve never been able to spot the actual Nativity scene here. It is rather cool, though.

A Nativity made out of Playobil figurines, the stable is on the left and a bunch of toys are coming towards it through the desert. There a lots of dromedaries.

The second “Christmas hotspot” is the town hall square Plaza Mayor had a tasteful light decoration, a childish representation of the Three Wise Men, and a very beautiful – and lit up – carousel. I really wanted to ride it, but there were too many toddlers. It would have looked… weird. I need to find out when it closes so I sneak in after the kiddies have gone home (≧▽≦).

A caroussel with bright lights on in a square. Hanging above the square there are lots of lights and stars in gold colours. There are also four Christmas trees

Third spot was half-closed but that is okay. The square Plaza de Santo Domingo hosts another flea market, that was not open – they are setting three rotating markets there, basically one each weekend, and we were between them. There was a big walk-in Christmas tree and the “monumental Nativity” there.

Collage: A Christmas tree made out of eye-shaped lights in blue, purple, red and yellow. A picture of the classical nativity with realistic figures. The Holy Family is illuminated in white - Joseph is placing the Child on a crib that Mary is holding.

The final area extends along the parks Parque de la Concordia and Parque de las Adoratrices. The entrance is flanked by two nutcrackers; it hosts a talking tree, lights, food trucks, yet another flea market, and rides that again… are only Christmassy by name. There is another Nativity, this time an “abstract one”, a cute train and a “Polar Express” ride, some lights and… a “talking tree”, which broke into telling some tales out all of a sudden. Then, there was a bunch of rides, but they looked like your average travelling carnival rides, and I was not going to go onto any of those, so I made my way back. Also, I was strong and did not buy any cotton candy nor similar treats, though I was tempted to get some roasted chestnuts.

Bizarre Christmas decorations and motifs in the park: A giant nutcracker / soldier, an abstract nativity, some gingerbread-house-shaped shops, a Polar Express mini train, and a... something that looks like a tree with a face on the trunk and leaves made from green lights.

It was weird because for the second time in a couple of months I’ve been asked if I’m an actual photographer. True, this time it was a drunk guy who then proceeded to yell fascist slogans. I decided it was the right time to call it an evening and go home for the day…