Every year when the cold begins to squeeze we relive with our children one of the most typical Christmas cultural traditions of Alcoy. This is Tirisiti’s Betlem, a really fun puppet show that has been held for over 100 years in the city where Pau was born and which we highly recommend if you travel with children.
In this town Alicante are taken Christmas very seriously and has a number of deeply rooted customs that are part of the idiosyncrasy of its people, in fact one of the slogans of the municipality is “Alcoi, Ciutat del Nadal” (Alcoy, City of Christmas). A clear example of this is the Cavalcade of the Magi of Alcoy, considered the oldest in the world, or parades as typically alcoyanos and unique as the Royal Command or the Burreta.
How is the Betlem of Tirisiti
Every year thousands of children from all over Spain visit the city of Alcoy to laugh at the jokes, satires and occurrences of this brazen and lazy innkeeper called Tirisiti, a character who addresses the public with a very characteristic voice caused by the use of a metal tongue. During the performance, some biblical scenes, local traditions or everyday moments from the beginning of the 19th century that have been renewed over the years are narrated in the alcoyana way. There’s always a nod to the hottest news, even if it has nothing to do with the original story, so laughter is usually assured.
For example, the vicissitudes of the Holy Family in their flight to Egypt or the worship of the child Jesus by the shepherds and the Magi, although the scenario does not change and is as if these events had occurred in the city of Alcoy. The narration mixes completely anachronistic elements of the alcoyana culture such as the Moors and Christians, a bullfight or other popular elements that have nothing to do with the religious events that are celebrated at Catholic Christmas… like a flight to the moon in a hot air balloon.
Currently the play is performed by the theatre company La Dependent and although it mixes Valencian with Spanish, the jokes are perfectly understandable by everyone, especially by the children who are the most encouraged to interact with Tirisiti and the other characters (the serene, l’agüelo, Classic …) during the performance.
The puppets used in the Betlem de Tirisiti of Alcoy are of the type called “de peu y vareta”. This means that the dolls, mounted on vertical rods, run through the stage through guides. The artists from below and without being seen by the public imprint on the puppets movements ranging from the most absolute subtlety to the most ferocious abruptness. Logically the latter are the most appreciated and laughed at by children.
It is a tradition that has survived more than a century and through which all alcoyano children of school age have passed. In addition, it was declared an Intangible Asset of Cultural Interest in 2002 and is one of the most iconic images of this Alicante city.
As alcoyanos we encourage you to visit our “Ciutat del Nadal” during these special dates. Surely you will find Tirisiti in the streets (they usually organize a guided route for this character) or in the children’s playground that was installed in La Glorieta a couple of years ago.
Where to see the Tirisiti, timetables and buy tickets
There are very few people who can attend every function of the Betlem de Tirisiti de Alcoy so tickets usually fly and the sign “no tickets” is one of their hallmarks. No matter how many times you’ve seen it, when December arrives it becomes a Christmas tradition to go and see the Tirisiti in family.
Anyone who wants to see the performance can do so at the Teatro Principal de Alcoy (Carrer Sant Tomàs, 5) from Friday 20 December 2019 until Sunday 5 January 2020. Tickets for the pre-Christmas events to be held on 30 November, 7 and 14 December 2019 have been put on sale prior to the “season”. You can buy tickets for these special features at Ticketalcoi.
As for the “normal” functions there are two ways to buy tickets for Betlem de Tirisiti de Alcoy. On the Internet, through TicketAlcoi from Thursday 19 December. With this method you can only buy 10 tickets per person. The other way is to buy tickets directly at the box office from 20 December. Every day half an hour before the first performance (6 per person). However, the queues are insured and there are very few tickets left at the box office. In order to know which days there is function and the schedules of the same look at the image that there is on these lines with all the details.
For more information you have the Alcoy Turismo website, where we have borrowed some of the photos illustrating this article, as it is not allowed to take photos or record video during the performance.
Now you know what the Tirisiti of Alcoy is, its timetables and where to buy tickets. Have you ever heard of this century-old Christmas tradition before? We look forward to seeing you in Alcoy this Christmas.