Christmas in Barcelona 2013
Barcelona Christmas is a truly special time and Barcelona is a perfect city for Christmas shopping. In the Catalan language you say "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year" like this: “Bon Nadal i Feliç Any Nou." In Spanish you say “Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo.”
Last updated 03-01-2013
The Spanish and Catalans celebrate Christmas with their own traditions and customs. The 25th of December (El dia de Nadal or El día de Navidad) is celebrated with a Christmas lunch, but the real Spanish Christmas is not celebrated in December. In Spain the Christmas celebrations are on the 6th of January, when the Three Kings (Tres Reis Mags) bring the presents for the children. On this page you can read about Barcelona Christmas traditions, Christmas markets in Barcelona and New Year parties, traditions, events and parties. > Pictures of Barcelona Christmas
Scroll down the page to read about Christmas in Barcelona in 2012
Christmas lights & trees in Barcelona
Christmas weather in Barcelona
Christmas markets in Barcelona
Christmas food & restaurants open at Christmas
“La Misa Del Gallo” - Midnight Mass
The Reyes Magos Parade 2011 Barcelona
“El Pessebre” - the crib - nativity scenes
“El Caganer” - The “crapper”
“Tió de Nadal” - The Christmas log
“L’Home dels Nassos” – The Noses Man
Barcelona New Year traditions
Barcelona Metro timetable Christmas and New Year
Barcelona sports events Christmas
Pictures Christmas in Barcelona
Christmas lights in Barcelona
The Christmas lights of Barcelona called "Els llums de Nadal." Christmas starts in Barcelona when the Barcelona Christmas lights, called "Els llums de Nadal," are turned on every year by the Mayor of Barcelona. In 2012 the Christmas lights ceremony is on Thursday 22nd November on Carrer de Sants which is Barcelona's longest shopping street in the Sants district of Barcelona. On the same day the annual Barcelona Shopping Night event takes place on the fashionable shopping street Passeig de Gracia and the popular outdoor covered Christmas Ice Skating rink on Plaza Catalunya opens too. There will be Christmas lights in more than 390 locations and streets of Barcelona with illuminations covering about 60km. The biggest Christmas tree in Barcelona is on Portal del Ángel near Plaça Catalunya. The Magic Fountain of Montjuic will have a special Christmas water and music show in December. It is free and can be seen on Fridays and Saturdays in December 2012 and on 25th December and 1st January between 19:00 to 21:00. And in 2012 the tower Torre Agbar in the Sant Marti district will be part of the Barcelona Christmas lights with a special Xmas light show from 18:00 to 23:00.
Christmas concerts and events
There are many classical, gospel and ballet Christmas concerts in Barcelona including three wonderful performances of Handel's Messiah at the Basílica de Santa María del Mar where you can also attend midnight mass on Christmas eve and just before midnight hear the 5 minute "El cant de la Sibil·la." Visit the Barcelona events calendar to find our concert picks for top Christmas concerts and events. There are many activities for children in the days between Christmas and New Year. Poble Espanyol, the Spanish village on Montjuic hill near Plaza Espanya, has a full programme of children's activities until 6th January including Caga Tió (see below) and carol singing. From 27th children can enjoy the Festival de la Infància at the Fira de Barcelona’s Montjuïc exhibition area. This is an annual festival and exhibition for families and children during the Christmas season featuring games, sports, an ice rink, karaoke, workshops, concerts for children and families during the Christmas season. Over 100 companies and 200,000 visitors usually attend.
Christmas weather in Barcelona
What's the weather like at Christmas in Barcelona? What should you wear in Barcelona in December. Bring a sweater, scarf and winter jacket because it can be cold, especially in the evenings. Generally we would describe the Barcelona December weather at chilly but crisp and clear. Perfect for Christmas actually. Barcelona can get a sprinkling of snow once or twice in the winter, as you can see on these photos of snow in Barcelona, but it does not happen very often and the chances of snow in Barcelona at Christmas are very slim. For snow near Barcelona head to the ski resorts near Barcelona which open in early December. The weather in Barcelona at Christmas can be warm and pleasant during the day and then get chilly in the evening. Generally the mid-day temperatures in December are around 14 to 16 degrees celsius and drop to between 5 and 15 degrees celcius in the evening. Weather forecast Barcelona
Christmas shopping Barcelona
Extra Christmas shopping days in December. Shops in Catalunya can stay open on the public holidays of 6th and 8th December. Christmas Shopping Sundays Barcelona. Shops can choose to be open on Sundays 16th December, 23rd December and 30th December 2012 during the Christmas month. Barcelona is one of the top European cities for Christmas shopping and to kick off the Christmas shopping one of Barcelona's most fashionable shopping street Passeig de Gracia organises the annual Barcelona Shopping Night with activities and opening times until midnight. In 2012 the Barcelona Shopping Night is on 22nd November.
Barcelona Christmas markets 2012
Barcelona's old city has many craft fairs during December and of course many Christmas markets. The oldest, biggest and most traditional of the Barcelona Christmas markets is “La Fira de Santa Llúcia,” - in Spanish “Feria de Santa Lucia." This wonderful Christmas market is on the Avenida de la Catedral in front of Barcelona’s Cathedral in the gothic area of Barcelona. The earliest recorded Christmas market in this location in Barcelona took place in 1786, so in 2012 it will be the 226th edition of Barcelona's favourite Christmas market. The Avenida de la Catedral and small streets by the cathedral have almost 300 stalls selling Christmas decorations and gifts. Around 100 of the stands sell the “figuritas de Belén,” which are the small figures that you can buy to make your own crib scenes called "Pessebres." The “figuritas de Belén” are not cheap and if you want the full set with shepherds hut and a stream, wooden bridges, palm trees, camels and more it will soon add up and you should probably buy a lottery ticket for the Spanish Christmas Lottery El Gordo. Or do what many do and buy a few figuritas each year and build up your collection. Here are the most popular Christmas markets in Barcelona:
2012 Christmas market dates
2012 Fira de Santa Llúcia Christmas market
Location: Av. De la Cathedral in front of Catedral de Barcelona in Gothic area.
Dates: Open from Sunday 25 November 2012 to Sunday 23 December 2012 daily from 10.00 to 22.00.
Biggest Christmas market in Barcelona on "Avenida de la Catedral" in front of Barcelona's cathedral in the Gothic quarter. A special day on Thursday 13/12 which is the "Dia de Santa Llúcia" and a 1 day festival called "Diada de les tradicions nadalencs" which is a festival of Christmas activities for the kids featuring the "Face of Barcelona Christmas" called "Carassa de Nadal de Barcelona" and a special Christmas concert. From 1/12 to 16/12 there is are special "Tió gegant" activities for the children. Read more about Fira de Santa Llucia Christmas market
2012 Fira de Nadal a la Sagrada Família - Sagrada Familia Christmas market
Location: Sagrada Familia church
Dates: Open from Saturday 24 November to Saturday 22 December 2012 daily from 10.00 to 22.00.
Fira de Nadal a la Sagrada Família. Traditional Christmas market with around 120 stalls at La Sagrada Familia church in Eixample area of Barcelona. On two Saturdays from 18 to 20.00 Santa Claus will collect letters from the children and hand out balloons and cookies. Organised by l'Associació d'Artesans i Firaires Nadalencs de la Sagrada Família
2012 Fira de Reis a la Gran Via - The Three Kings Fair >website
Location: On street of Gran Via between streets of Rocafort and Calàbria. Map link
Dates: Open from Thursday 20th December 2012 to 6th January 2013 from 10.00 to 20.00 and on 5. January 2013 until 03.00
"La feria de Reyes de la Gran Via" is also called "Sant Tomàs i Reis" fair (St Thomas and Kings) - and also sometimes called the Twelfth Night Fair: This is one of the biggest Christmas and New Year markets for gifts and toys in Barcelona. It has around 300 markets stalls with toys and other traditional "Reyes" gifts like "carbon de azucar" (candy coal.)
2012 Fira de Nadal solidària
Location: Els Jardinets de Gràcia. Map Link
Dates: Saturday 15th December to Sunday 23rd December from 11:00 to 21:00
Fira de Nadal solidària is a charity Christmas fair organized by the Barcelona city council with focus on selling artisan arts and crafts that benefit charites and promote awareness of social issues and civic responsibility.
2012 Fira de Nadal - Fira d'artesania a la plaça de Sants Christmas market
Location: Carrer Joan Güell - Plaça de Sants. > Map link
Dates: Thursday 6th December to 24th December 2012
2012 Festival de la Infància - Barcelona Children's Festival
Location: Fira Montjuic - Festival de la Infancia information
Dates: Thursday 27th December 2012 to Friday 4th January 2012
Find Christmas markets outside Barcelona
2012 Mercat de Nadal de Pedralbes
Location: Plaça Monestir de Pedralbes
Dates: Sunday 25th November 2012 from 11:00 to 16:00
Lovely one day Christmas market at plaza of Pedralbes monastery, where you can also enjoy guided visits of the monastery and enjoy Christmas carol singing.
There are also lovely Christmas markets and fairs in towns and village near Barcelona if you have a car. We can recommend the Fira de Nadal in Caldes de Montbui on 1st and 2nd December 2012.
Christmas food traditions Barcelona
“Escudella i carn d'olla” is a typical Christmas dish in Catalunya. This is a tasty bowl (escudella means bowl) of pasta shells "galets" in a meat and vegetable stew, then followed by "carn d'olla" which is a meat dish of stuffed capon or turkey. Dessert could be traditional “torrons,” which is on sale at Christmas markets and supermarkets everywhere in Barcelona. This is nougat made with almonds, hazelnuts and honey. Christmas bread, “El Pa de Nadal” is sold at bakeries all over Barcelona. Not all restaurants are open in Barcelona at Christmas. Generally the bigger chain restaurants and the hotel restaurants are open during Christmas, but to avoid disapointment we recommend contacting restaurants to check their opening times and to make a reservation.
About Escudella in Barcelona Metropolitan Magazine
Recipe for escudella i carn d'olla by Clifford A. Wright
Catalan restaurants in Barcelona
Most shops are closed both on both 25th and 26th December. For grocery shopping the "OpenCor" convenience stores are open on 26th December.
OpenCor shops Barcelona
“La Misa Del Gallo”
Christmas Eve Midnight Mass
Midnight Mass is celebrated on Christmas Eve in Barcelona. The chiming of church bells summons families to the mass which is called "La Misa Del Gallo" - The Mass of the Rooster. This names derives from the belief that only time that a rooster crowed at midnight was on Christmas Eve when Jesus was born. The Midnight Mass is a charming service. The most memorable Christmas mass can be found 40 km northwest of Barcelona in "la Basílica de Montserrat," the Benedictine monastery built on the steep cliffs of Montserrat mountain range. At this midnight mass you can hear the angelic voices of Europe's oldest boys' choir called L’Escolania de Montserrat.
Three Kings Parade Barcelona
In Spain the most important day of Christmas is the 6th January, when The Three Kings of the Orient - "Els Tres Reis Mags d'Orient" - Melchor, Gaspar y Baltasar ( In Spanish “Los Reyes Magos” Balthasar, Caspar and Melchior) arrive at the crib of the infant Jesus bearing their gifts. The 6th January is the day when children get their gifts in Spain. You can see good old Santa Claus in shopping malls in Barcelona and on Spanish TV stations, but he is not the star of Christmas celebrations in Barcelona and Spain.
The 5th January is called the Night of the Three Kings, the "Cavalcada de Reis" in Catalan or “Cabalgata los Reyes Magos,” in Spanish. It`s also called The Three Kings’ Parade or the “Twelfth Night procession.” The Christmas tradition in Spain is that the Three Kings bring the presents for the children, not Santa Claus. So the Reyes Magos parade in Spain and Barcelona is on 5th January every year on the evening before Twelfth Night Epiphany which is 6th January, and then the day after the parade on the 6th January the children in Spain get their presents. On the night of 5th January Spanish and Catalan children put out their shoes for the Three Kings to fill. They also leave hay and water for the camels. On the morning of the 6th January the hay and water is gone and the shoes are full of presents!
The Three Kings parade on 5th January 2013 is a procession of impressively decorated “carrozas” ( parade floats.) The most important floats are the ones with the Three Kings. Each carroza is manned by costumed adults and chldren tossing candy to the jubilant throngs of families and children lining the parade route. Some neighbourhoods have their own parade and the city has a big central parade every year which starts from the Moll de la Fusta in the Port Vell Marina of Barcelona. Adults and children over eight are welcome to sign up (usually before December) to take part in the processions as carriage pages, criers, royal postmen and other helpers.
16:30 Saturday 5th January 2013
Before Kings' Arrival at port
Barcelona port - Moll de la Fusta ( > OPEN MAP)
Royal pages and retinue prepare to greet the arrival of the Three Kings on the dock called "Moll de La Fusta" (wood wharf) in front of the Columbus monument at the Rambla de Mar. There will be family entertainment while children are waiting for the Kings to arrive.
17:00 Saturday 5th January 2013
Arrival Three Kings at port
Barcelona port - Moll de la Fusta ( > OPEN MAP)
Arrival Three Kings Barcelona. The Reyes arrive onboard the Barcelona maritime museum's schooner (pailebot) called "Santa Eulàlia." After the greeting festivities the Three Kings leave this location by car and go to the start of the parade "Cavalcada de Reis" which starts at the Parc de la Ciutatdella from the park entrance on the street "Av. Marques de l'Argentera."
18:30 Saturday 5th January 2013
Start of Kings parade "Cavalcada de Reis"
Parc de la Ciutatdella (> OPEN MAP)
Cavalcada de Reis - Kings parade in Barcelona starts on the street "Av. Marques de l'Argentera" outside the side entrance of the park "Parc de la Ciutatdella." The parade then goes up Via Laietana (18.55) - crosses Plaça Urquinaona and along Carrer Fontanella (19.35) - crosses Plaça de Catalunya and goes along Carrer Pelai (19.45) - crosses Plaça de la Universitat and goes down Ronda de Sant Antoni (20.05) - down Carrer de Sepúlveda (20.30) and finally down Avinguda Paral·lel to Plaza Espanya (20:45) to end at Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina (21.30) Times are approximate.
21:30 Saturday 5th January 2013.
Avinguda de Rius i Taulat at Magic Fountain
Finish of Kings parade
The Kings parade finishes at Avinguda de Rius i Taulat at Magic Fountain where the Magic Fountain musical score will be part of the parade for the first time ( MAP LINK )
2013 Cavalcada de Reis - Full route & Timetable
View Route Map Barcelona Three Kings Parade 2013 - Mapa Barcelona "Cavalcada de Reis" in a larger map
About "Cabalgata los Reyes Magos" parade
“El Pessebre de Nadal” - nativity scenes
The pessebre is the Catalan name for the Christmas nativity scene. A Spanish and Catalan Christmas would not be complete without a nativity scene with palm trees, shepherds, three kings, Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus. And of course the cheeky Caganer figure. The nativity scene in Catalonia is called “El Pessebre de Nadal.” The word Pessebre means "stable" and El Pessebre de Nadal refers to the manger, or the crib, where Christ was born. It is called “El Belén de Navidad” in Spanish or “Belén de Judá” which means “stable of Judea.” The three most typical pessebre scenes are the birth of Christ in a manger, the Archangel Gabriel appearing to the shepherds or the star guiding the Three Kings to Bethlehem. Traditionally the pessebre is assembled on St Catherines day on 25th November and taken down on 2nd February which is the feast of Candlemas which marks the midpoint of winter, halfway between the shortest day and the spring equinox.
Crib scene displays can be found many places in Barcelona on plazas, in churches and in all Catalan homes, both in statue form and living nativity plays called "pessebre vivent." The official Barcelona outdoor pessebre is on Plaça Sant Jaume in the Gothic quarter of Barcelona, which is open from 26th November 2012 to 6th January 2013 from 10:00 to 21:00 daily. In 2012 at La Seca2 on Carrer de Seca off Montcada street in the Born area of Barcelona, there is really nice exhibition of pessebre nativity models called "Pessebres del món," which commemorates 150 years of pessebre making in Catalunya with an exhibition of around 100 pessebre scenes, of which around half are from Catalonia and half are international. Worth a visit.
Where to see a Christmas Pessebre in Barcelona
- 1/12 to 3/2 exhibition "Pessebres del món" at La Seca2 in Born
- 26/11 to 6/1 open-air pessebre in Plaça de Sant Jaume
- Pessebres vivents at Maremagnum mall Dec 2012. > See programme
- Cloister of cathedral La Seu - entrance from Carrer del Bisbe
- 15/12 to 12/1 Pessebre church Basílica de Santa Maria del Mar
- Pessebre diorama in Iglesia de Belén on Las Ramblas 107
- 1/12 to 13/1 exhibition Casa de la Pia Almoina, Av. Catedral 4
- Sagrat Cor de Jesús del Tibidabo - church on Tibidabo hill
- Museu Monestir de Pedralbes - Monastery of Pedralbes
“El Caganer” - The Christmas crapper
Among the figures in a good “Pessebre” you will find a funny little fellow, called "El Caganer", which is a unique and strange Catalan Christmas tradition
"El Caganer" is the cheeky figure of Catalan navitivy scenes as “El Caganer” literally means “The crapper” or "the shitter." It is a an elf or gnome-like figure wearing the traditional Catalan "barretina" red beret and with his trousers down, his backside bare, defecating! Very naughty guy! He or she can usually be found somewhere in the nativity scene if you look closely. The origins of el crapper are a bit murky, but apparently "El Caganer" has been dropping his britches to "fertilize the earth" since the middle of the 19th century at least. He is a very popular fellow in Catalunya and thought to bring good luck. "El Caganer" can be seen in in many forms and public figures have the honour of being portrayed with their pants down at Christmas. The caganer is a very popular fellow in Catalunya and thought to bring good luck. Among the most sold caganer figures in 2012 are Messi holding the Balon D'Oro and new French President François Hollande and the "independentista" which is the separatist caganer with the independence flag. The caganer figurines are all handmade and cost from € 5-20 per figurine depending on size.Visit Caganer.com to see the new 2012 Caganer figures
There was a suggestion in back in 2005 to leave the caganer out of from the Plaça Sant Jaume official pessebre nativity scene. It was felt that the caganer was politically incorrect, especially in times when Barcelona is trying to encourage nightlife revellers not to use the streets as public toilets. But there many protests against a caganer ban ensued, so the caganer can still be seen in the pessebre on Sant Jaume. See if you can spot him.
“Tió de Nadal” - The Christmas log
Another Christmas tradition in Catalonia is the “Tió de Nadal.” In this context the word "Tió" is a Catalan word. The word "tió" in Catalan means “log.“ In Spanish "Tio" means "uncle” or “guy." So "Tió de Nadal" is "Christmas log" not "Christmas uncle" or "Christmas guy."
The “Tió de Nadal” Christmas log is a small log with a happy face painted on it and wearing the typical Catalan barretina red hat. You can also see giant Tió de Nadal at children's Christmas events. The Christmas log is also called “Caga Tió.” which means "the pooing log". It works like this. The Christmas log is pampered and looked after by children from the 8th December ( the day of Immaculate Conception called “Dia de la Immaculada Concepció,”) until Christmas Eve 24th December. The Caga Tió even gets a blanket to keep it warm at night. Then on Christmas Eve children sing the “Caga Tió” song to get the log to “poo” some presents. While they are singing they hit the log with a stick. When the song is finished with a final load cry of “Caga Tió!” ( = the imperative tense of the the verb "to defacate" so it means "Shit log!") and someone puts a hand under the blanket covering the Christmas log and takes out a present which the log has pooed! Great fun and the kids love it! Another old tradition is that if you have a fireplace you burn the “Tió" log, but many choose to keep it for next year.
“L’Home dels Nassos” – Noses Man
New Year's traditions in Barcelona. “L’Home dels Nassos” is a fun Catalan tradition. On New Year’s Eve 31st December, also called the day of San Silvestre or Saint Sylvester, the "L’Home dels Nassos" roams the streets handing out candy to the children. The Nose man has as many noses on his face as there are days left in the year. Many children mistakenly expect to see a man with 365 many noses on his face – one for each day of the year. But of course on the last day of the year, he only has one. San Silvestre is also the name of a popular 10 km San Silvestre run in Barcelona which is on the last day of the year in Barcelona and also on 31/12 at noon there is a children's party on Passeig de Gracia called Festa infantil de l'home dels nassos.
Read about Nassos - Noses man (in Catalan)
Ice skating rinks Christmas
Barcelona has three Christmas Ice Skating rinks in 2011 adding to the two permanent ice rinks in Barcelona. Plaza Catalunya has an ice skating rink for Christmas for the first time, which is 1200 m2 big with room for 400 skaters. It is a covered ice rink that is open from 2 December until the beginning of January. The idea is both to enhance the Christmas spirit of Barcelona and also to promote awareness of the Barcelona bid for the winter olympics in 2022. Ticket price for skating on Plaza Catalunya is 8 euros per hour and opening times are from 10:00 to 21:00. There are also Christmas ice skating rinks in the Gracia area of the city on Passeig de Sant Joan from 5 December to 8 January and an ice rink in the shopping mall Pedralbes Centre in the upper area of Barcelona.
El Gordo Christmas lottery
The Spanish Christmas lottery El Gordo is the biggest lottery in the world. Read about El Gordo 2012
New Years' Eve in Barcelona
New Years Eve Parties and traditions
New Years Eve is celebrated in Spain with food and parties. New Years Eve is celebrated by people gathering on Plaza Catalunya in the centre of town at midnight, but not as an official ceremony. Most people choose to celebrate at bars, clubs and restaurants in Barcelona. All the top clubs and many hotels have New Year Parties, so check our Barcelona nightlife page to find parties. and many people at parties or at home turn on the live transmission from Madrid's central square, Puerta del Sol, at midnight to see the 12 chimes that take us into a New Year. Fireworks do not play a major part in the New Year celebrations in Barcelona, so there is no official city fireworks display. In Spain at midnight everyone eats the twelve lucky grapes, one at each strike of the bell, and toasts with Cava. According to an excellent book about oddities in Spain by Valerie Collins and Theresa O’Shea called “In the Garlic” this tradition is explained as follows:
“As for the grapes, you might imagine that the custom of eating twelve lucky uvas at midnight on December 31 dates back to ancient times. In fact, it was dreamed up by Valencian grape-growers in 1909 as a way of getting rid of an extra-bumper crop. One grape after each chime of the clock to give thanks for the past year's good luck and in anticipation of the lucky year to come. A hundred years is a short time when it comes to gene development, but it seems the Spanish have already honed the how-to-eat-12-grapes-in-12-seconds-without-choking gene. Actually, they cheat. The Puerta del Sol clock in Madrid , which everybody watches on TV, is slowed down to a more digestible one strike every three seconds.”
Sports events at Christmas Barcelona
There are four sports events during the Christmas season in Barcelona
Buff Epic 10k Obstacle Race - December 2012
Christmas walk - Sunday in December 2012
Christmas day harbour swim - 25th December 2012
New Years Day swim 1st January 2013
Restaurants in Barcelona open
during Christmas and New Year
Many restaurants in Barcelona are opening during the Christmas holidays especially in hotels and in the centre of town, but we advise you to check daily papers and contact restaurants directly for reservations.
Public Transport Christmas Barcelona
Metro in Barcelona at Christmas.
24/12 Metro on Christmas Eve closes at 23:00.
25/12 Metro opens at 05:00 and closes at 02:00 on Sunday morning.
26/12 Boxing Day Sant Esteve. Metro open from 05:00 to midnight
31/12 New Year's Eve. Metro open all night on New Years Eve.
Christmas timetables Barcelona public transport
Night buses Barcelona
That's all we have for you about Christmas in Barcelona - except to wish you all a Bon Nadal i Feliç any Nou!
Pictures Barcelona at Christmas
Catalan and Spanish Christmas names
Barcelona City website about Christmas in Barcelona
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