10 reasons to come and celebrate Christmas in Barcelona
Celebrating Christmas is, in itself, an eagerly awaited event. But celebrating Christmas in Barcelona surpasses all expectations. Here are 10 enchanting reasons to come and visit. Enjoy Christmas in Barcelona: you'll remember it all year.
1. The Christmas markets are full of surprises
Barcelona's Christmas markets and fairs are truly charming, and when you visit, you'll immerse yourself in an experience combining history, surprises and traditions. Buying a Christmas tree is a time-honoured tradition but the really fun part is browsing the different stalls with their traditional Christmas figures for the crib, as well as the uniquely Catalan tió – a log with a smiley face – and the funny caganer, or little pooper. Where to start? You can't miss the Fira de Santa Llúcia, which has been named one of Europe's most different Christmas markets by Lonely Planet, and the Fira de la Sagrada Familia, which takes place against the impressive backdrop of the famous basilica.
2. Barcelona is an unmissable port of call for the Three Wise Men
Boys and girls in Barcelona have a soft spot for these three likeable gentlemen who travel by camel: the Three Wise Men. They arrive by boat in the city's old harbour, the Port Vell, in the evening of 5th January to leave toys in every home. Melchior, Casper and Balthazar take part in a spectacular procession through the streets of the city accompanied by royal pages and fairy-tale characters. And as the Kings' stay is quite an event, over the days leading up to the 5th, the little ones can visit their workshop and toy factory where the magic happens.
3. A bus tour of the Christmas lights
The double-decker Barcelona Christmas Tour combines the experience of discovering the city in comfort and the magic of Christmas. Throughout the trip you'll be able to admire the city's most spectacular Christmas lights, some of them truly unique, and soak up the festive, welcoming atmosphere all around the city.
4. Doing some shopping as you wander in a big open-air shopping centre
Barcelona captivates its visitors with its buildings, hidden corners, squares and heritage. The best way to experience it is to wander through its beautiful streets which are, in themselves, a big open-air shopping centre. At Christmas, the shops are decked out in all their finery and their windows glitter with all kinds of decorations. Every district has its own shopping quarter that dresses up for the occasion. The city's shopping centres and department stores recreate the Christmas spirit in their own unique way and organise activities that make Christmas shopping a truly unforgettable experience. And if you still haven't found that special gift you were looking for, you're sure to find it at our Unique Shops, Barcelona's most distinctive retail emporiums.
5. Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without music: more than 10 concerts await
Carols, classical music, jazz, flamenco, pop, indie… music is the art that stirs feelings inside us instantly. Over the festive season, the city brings us all kinds of musical entertainments to suit every taste. You'll be able to enjoy more than 100 free concerts in different styles and genres at the city's markets and in its streets, as well as traditional Christmas carols in iconic settings, such as the Sagrada Família, as well as classical concerts at the Barcelona Obertura Christmas Season being staged at major venues such as the Liceu, Palau de la Música and L'Auditori. Have you decided which one you're going to?
6. New Year's Eve, so much more than a countdown
Just before the year ends, many locals take to the streets… to do some exercise. The famous race, the Cursa dels Nassos (Race of the Noses) takes place on 31st December and is named after a mythical character who has as many noses as there are days in the year. And when the much-anticipated moment arrives to say goodbye to the year, the locals eat twelve grapes, one on each chime of midnight, and drink a toast with cava (it couldn't be anything else). Crowds of people gather on Avinguda Maria Cristina to welcome in the New Year with a firework display that fills the sky. You can also celebrate at one of the many parties organised by Barcelona's nightclubs, bars, hotels and restaurants.
7. Christmas will conquer your palate
Barcelona's Christmas fare is a well-balanced combination of tradition and refinement. No Christmas table would be complete without typical dishes, like the tasty broth, escudella, and cannelloni. And when it's time for dessert, people bring out the delicious nougat, or turrón, cylindrical wafers called neules, and for Epiphany, the ring-shaped cake, the Tortell de Reis, all washed down with the finest cava. You can't miss out on these culinary delights, either at home or as part of a banquet at one of the many restaurants that serve special menus on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.
8. Christmas in Barcelona lasts longer
In addition to celebrating the big day on 25th December, we also get together on Christmas Eve. After the families get back from Midnight Mass, the children take part in a tradition known as "fer cagar el tió” (literally 'making the log poop') involving a log with a painted smiley face covered with a blanket which they hit with a stick until presents spill out from under it. On 26th December, we celebrate Saint Stephen's Day with the famous, (and delicious) cannelloni made from the left-over capon we ate the day before. A marathon of celebrations!
9. The Nativity scene: a Christmas tradition found in every home
In homes all over the city, the Nativity scene , featuring figures from the birth of Christ, including the adoration of the Magi and the shepherds, is, along with the tree, the centrepiece of Christmas. Every year, at the Christmas markets, you can buy figurines to add to and renew your Nativity scene. Assembling the Nativity scene in the living room is one of the most eagerly awaited family activities, and the real highlight is finding a place for the peculiar crouching figure answering a call of nature, known as the caganer. There are also spectacular exhibitions of Nativity scenes at the cathedral, in the Plaça Sant Jaume, at City Hall and the Museu Frederic Marès. You can also visit the living Nativity at the Poble Espanyol and others in different towns in Catalonia. Don't miss them!
10. At Christmas, take a dip in the sea
It may be cold but this doesn't deter the hundreds of people who jump into the sea on 25th December to take part in the Christmas Cup organised by the Barcelona Swimming Club. The race has become a classic and many locals take part, departing from the old harbour, close to L'Aquàrium,, and swimming 200 metres in the waters of the Mediterranean. On 1st January, even more people take to the water in a group swim organised by the Barceloneta Swimming Club. You might not be bold enough to take part but, if you go along to one of these events, the athletic and energetic spirit of the hardy swimmers is sure to rub off.
As you can see, Christmas in Barcelona is experienced with all the senses. Make the most of it with the benefits and discounts included in the Barcelona Card!
We look forward to welcoming you to Barcelona this Christmas!
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