On the evening of 5th January, seven trios of Kings, or Reis, ride into their seven respective towns, clad in regal finery: gold crowns, velvet cloaks, flowing locks and splendid false beards. They progress down the main streets of Andorra La Vella and Escaldes on theme-decorated floats sometimes accompanied by elves. Encamp’s Reis prefer to arrive in a carriage while in La Massana the men of the Orient usually arrive in a clattering horseback cavalcade. Pas de la Casa transports their Wise Men aboard 4x4s! The public throng the streets. Small children rush forward to scoop up the literally thousands of kilos of sweets that the Kings and children in the processions throw to the crowd. Next morning those same children will find that the Kings, bearing gifts, have visited them in the silence of the night.
There’s also a Three Kings’ Cake (most festivals worth their salt in Andorra have a distinctive cake.) This one, Tortell de Reis, is decorated with green, orange and red crystallized fruits, filled with marzipan or custard and topped off by a golden crown. Each cake is baked complete with a tiny china figurine of a Rei and also a dried broad bean hidden inside. Win the Rei and you’re king for the day and get to wear the crown. End up with the bean and you pay for the tortell – and possibly have a broken tooth thrown in.