Christmas in Barcelona 202
Summer still seems around the corner but Barcelona is getting ready again for the festive season. The Christmas season in Barcelona starts on December 8th, the day of the Immaculate Conception. From that day on, people start decorating their houses and the city will be glittering with Christmas lights. Christmas isn’t nearly as commercialized in Spain as it is in other Western countries. But the country does have many unique traditions.
December is a pleasant month to visit Barcelona. It has an average of three days of rain, 15 degrees Celsius by day and 9 degrees by night. Provided you’re not looking for snow, Barcelona is a real fine choice for a festive break.
What can you do in Barcelona around Christmas time?
1. Visit one of the Christmas markets:
Like every year, there will be many Christmas markets that can be visited during the festive period. Wandering around the lively stalls while enjoying a hot drink is a tradition for many.
Catalans have their own version of the German gluhwein, which is a white, hot wine with delicious spices.
At most markets, you can buy a traditional Caga Tió or the popular and much-loved Caganer. The Caga Tió´ (poop log) tradition takes place at ´Noche Buena’ (December 24th).
The Catalan children, repeatedly hit the log, to the rhythm of a traditional song. Once the song is sung to its entirety, the red cover is pulled off to reveal presents and treats.
The Caganer is an essential element of the decoration. This small statue is originally a pooping peasant, wearing a Catalan cap.
It was allegedly added as a symbol of good luck. The feces of the Caganer are supposed to fertilize the earth and ensure a joyful and successful year ahead.
Fira Santa Llúcia is one of the annual classics. It is one of the oldest and biggest Christmas markets of Barcelona. It contains over 300 stalls filled with Christmas presents and decorations. The market is set up around the Cathedral and will take place from 27 November until 23 December 2021.
The Fira de Reis is a great market that takes places between December 19 and January 6. It will be set up again this year in Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes. On this market you will notice that especially toys and other gifts prevail. Since the start of the market in 1877, a large influx of visitors is expected every year.
Fira de Nadal de la Sagrada Família is one of the more traditional, and has been there since 1960. The Christmas Market of the Sagrada Familia is traditionally held from November 29 to December 23. The market has hundreds of stalls to buy Christmas trees, traditional crib figurines, toys, food and crafts. Other markets are the Nadal de Sant Lluc, in the district Sant Pere, Santa Caterina i La Ribera and the Christmas market at the Poble Espanyol. A Spanish Village on Montjuic hill, from 6th to 8th December and
from 21st to 29th December. Activities include entertainment, a Christmas food fair, roller disco and live music. Also, there is an annual market at Port Vell, with a big Ferris Wheel.
2.Go to a Christmas concert:
Every year around Christmas time, Barcelona has several Christmas concerts. Usually, the iconic Palau de la Música organizes a Christmas concert, that is more than worth a visit. The Palau is admirable from the outside but even more on the inside. This year the big Christmas concert will be held on the 22th of December 2021. This year’s concert will be The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky, combined with Beethoven’s Symphony No.5.
The Liceu Barcelona Opera is magnificent on itself and one of the most beautiful sights in Barcelona. As every year, it holds a series of concerts around the festive season. On the 17/18/19th of December, you can attend the opera El Conte De Nadal De Charles Dickens. On the 28/29/30th of December, you can visit The Nutcracker.
Christmas at L´auditori. L´auditori is a concert hall in Barcelona´s Eixample neighborhood. Around Christmas they organize a series of concerts. On the 23rd there is the Canta Gran senior choir and on the 26th, the Johann Strauss New year´s concert.
On Christmas Eve there is also a midnight mass at the sublime gothic basilica Santa Maria del Mar. During the mass the “cant de la Sibil·la” is sung. This might not be your typical concert, but it can be very special to spend your evening the traditional way.
3. Watch the Christmas lights
Barcelona´s Christmas lights or ‘Llums de Nadal’ are switched on end November and stay on until 6th January. The best are usually reserved for La Rambla.
The Ramblas is fully lit up every year during the Christmas period. This is one of the reasons that the place attracts so many visitors.
The exceptional Montjuic Magic Fountain is part of the Barcelona Christmas lights with a special Christmas water and music display. The shows are held between 8pm and 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays in December and early January.
The Magic fountain also stars in the Barcelona New Year countdown show.
Plaça de Sant Jaume in the gothic area is the place where you can find the official Christmas nativity scene. The scene is different every year and usually holds a big Christmas tree and lots of Christmas lights.
4. Visit the Three Kings’ Parade:
The end of the Christmas holiday in Barcelona is on the 6th of January. On the day before, the ´Fiesta de los Reyes´ is celebrated in Spain. On this day there is the annual 3 Kings’ parade, which is quite spectacular. Three Kings is primarily a children’s celebration and probably the largest in all of Spain.
The Three Kings Parade takes place through the streets of Barcelona. On regal floats they throw treats and gifts to the children who have been eagerly awaiting their arrival. The arrival of the men usually takes place on a boat at Port Vell, around 4 p.m. There they will be greeted by the city’s mayor. The procession starts around 6 p.m., during which they will parade through the city. The floats are highly decorated and music is played throughout the journey, while sweets are being thrown out to everyone.
5. Go on a Christmas Lights Night Tour by Bus
Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night, you can go on a special night tour with the official tourist bus in Barcelona.
The iconic busses take you on a 1.5-hour ride around Barcelona´s highlights and most illuminated locations.
The tours set off twice an evening, the first at 6 pm and the second at 7.45 pm, on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (except for 24, 25 and 31 December and 1 January), from the Barcelona Bus Turístic bus stop at Plaça de Catalunya (opposite the El Corte Inglés). The prices are quite economic at only € 13,50 per ticket.
Article by Esther VDB for Say Barcelona