What to do in Barcelona at Christmas Time
Food & Wine
Arts & Culture
Christmas is a magical time of the year, and Barcelona has a lot of seasonal attractions for everyone. Barcelona, being a cosmopolitan city, warmly invites newcomers to experience our Catalan traditions. Come with me to enjoy Barcelona as a local for the Christmas season!
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🎄Stroll through the Christmas fairs and markets
Many neighbourhoods have their own stalls, and you can find crafts and Christmas decorations, such as Christmas plants, Christmas trees, and ornaments. In Catalonia, you can also find the ¨tió¨ (a log that gives sweets to the children on Christmas Eve) or the ¨Caganer¨, a unique figure from the Catalan tradition that is placed in the Nativity scene. If you would like to know more about the ̈caganer ̈, you have to come to Barcelona and discover it for yourself. The oldest and most famous Christmas fair in Barcelona is La Fira de Santa LLuci and is located in the Cathedral Square. In case you arrive after Christmas Day, when the Fira de Santa Llucia has already ended, you can visit La Fira dels Reis on Gran Via to get treats for all the family.
🎄 Visit a Nativity Scene
These representations are filled with creativity, craft, and beauty. Here are some examples of traditional scenes: Museu Marès, the Cathedral of Barcelona or Monastir de Pedralbes. The Nativity scene of the Barcelona Town Hall typically showcases modern versions, and it´s worth visiting to decide for yourself whether contemporary art and tradition go hand in hand. The entry is free.
🎄Indulge in a delicious hot chocolate cup with churros.
The cafes on Carrer Petritxol in the Gothic Quarter, are the most traditional; I go there every year at Christmas Time! However, it´s true that they are charming but small places, with significant waiting queues (first come, first served. The typical menu includes a ¨suizo¨ (thick hot chocolate with whipped cream) and churros. In addition to the cafés on Carrer Petritxol, you can enjoy ¨churros con chocolate¨ in any ̈granja ̈: the name for the typical Catalan cafes.
🎄Book a table in a traditional restaurant
Discover the Catalan Christmas Menu! ¨La Escudella¨ is a hearty broth that we eat as a starter on Christmas Day and ¨Els Canelons¨ is the typical dish for Saint Stephens´Day (12/26: also a public holiday in Catalonia). My family cooks all these delis for us when we visit them, but you can also find them in restaurants such as: Restaurant 7 Portes or Restaurant Windsor. Reservation required to secure space in both restaurants.
Coming back to the sweets, the typical sweet treat in Spain and especially popular during the Holiday season is the ¨Torró¨, in Spanish ¨Turrón¨. It´s a nougat delight and festive dessert, usually shaped into a rectangular tablet. You can find it with different ingredients and flavours. As examples, look for traditional style Turrones Suchard and La Jijonenca or try the innovative recipes of Torrons Vicens. You can find these delights in supermarkets, confectionaries, or specialized stores. Furthermore, it´s an ideal souvenir to give when you return home.
👑El Roscó de Reis
Sorry for the calories, but let me add the last seasonal sweet: Roscó de Reis. This traditional Spanish pastry is only eaten on the Three Kings´ Day (January, the 6th). It´s a ring-shaped bread that hides inside the pastry a small figurine and a dry bean. The tradition says that the person who finds the hidden figure is considered the king or the queen for the day and puts on the paper crown that comes with the cake. The person who finds the bean is expected to pay the Roscó next year. Speaking of The Three Kings´ Day, it is needless to say that it is the most magical day of the year for all children. Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar travel from Orient to visit all towns and cities in Spain the night before to greet and remind the children to go to bed early so they can receive their gifts at home the next day. The Three Kings´ Parade is a must if you´re in the city!
🎄Some sport events at Christmas Time
Let´s get in shape after so many foodies. The Swimming Club of Barcelona celebrates a 200-meter swimming race on Christmas Day, which is the oldest open-water race in Spain (the first one was celebrated in 1907). Additionally, on the First Day of the Year, the Swimming Club of Barceloneta organizes a community swim in the Mediterranean Sea. If you prefer running instead of taking a dip in the sea during winter, Barcelona hosts a 10 km race on New Year's Eve called ¨La Cursa dels Nassos¨.
🎄Twelve grapes on New Year´s Eve
Of course, we also have a tradition for New Year´s Eve. During the 12 strokes of midnight, we eat twelve grapes, one for each chime. No matter where we are, we try to uphold this tradition. I ate them on 01/01 at 0:00 in Times Square in NYC, in Miami Beach and, of course, in my home town.. Barcelona.
🎄Barcelona Christmas Lights
In addition to the lights on the most commercial streets of the city, some emblematic buildings in Barcelona host light shows. The Sant Pau Art Nouveau site presents a magnificent Christmas light show, and with the ticket, you can also ice skate for a while. ¨A Winter Night¨ is the visual show broadcast on the façade of Casa Batlló, which is also worth visiting inside.
Whether you enjoy classical music or contemporary tunes, Barcelona offers a wide range of concerts throughout the year. For classical music, among others, L´Auditori, the modern-style masterpiece Palau de la Musica and even our Opera Theatre: El Gran Teatre del Liceu are open for the Holiday Season. In case you´re looking for the latest trend in music, some clubs like Sala Apolo or La Paloma host concerts featuring international, national, and local bands. Just explain to me your preferences, and I´m sure I can find a musical event in Barcelona to experience the city as a local.
Need to Know
My accommodation recommendations for enjoying Christmas in Barcelona are hotels in the city centre, around Passeig de Gràcia, a very pleasant street for walking, shopping, and experiencing Christmas season in the European way.
This trip report is part of our ongoing series on travel to Barcelona. In need of further inspiration? Check out Chantel Lanier’s guide, Best Cocktail Bars in Barcelona.
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