Calls are growing for the use of blackface characters in Alcoy’s Three Kings Parade to be abandoned.

Despite years of condemnation, Spain’s Three Kings Parade has gone ahead in a small eastern city with a Balthazar character and an army of pageboys in blackface.

About 300 people in Alcoy near Alicante painted their faces on Thursday for the parade, which is held to present children with Christmas gifts.

Many celebrated nonchalantly, ignoring calls from anti-racist organisations to stop the tradition. Spanish children open Christmas presents brought by blackface pageboys

Ceremonies in Valencia and Igualada in Catalonia were also said to have had a blackface Balthazar and his helpers.

The activist group Afroféminas has been calling for an end to the practice since 2017, when an Alcoy City Council poster featured a blackface pageboy

to push for the parade to be protected by UNESCO heritage status. At first Virginia Jorda, an artist from Alcoy, a city of 60,000, could not understand the criticism.