Christmas Barcelona Pessebre de Nadal


Pessebre de Nadal. Christmas nativity scene

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 pooing Caganer figure. A 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.


Christmas Crib scene displays can be found many places in Barcelona on plazas, in churches and in most Catalan homes, both in miniature form and also living nativity plays called "pessebre vivents." The official Barcelona outdoor pessebre - Pessebre a la Plaça Sant Jaume - is on Plaça Sant Jaume in the Gothic quarter of Barcelona. It is open from end November to 6th January from 10:00 to 21:00 daily.

In 2016 the official Barcelona outdoor nativity scene pessebre is as always the Pessebre a la Plaça Sant Jaume in the Gothic quarter of Barcelona. It is open from end November to 6th January from 10:00 to 22:00 daily. The design changes every year and in 2016 the pessebre on Plaça Sant Jaume has a modern and somewhat controversial interpretation featuring with nine transparent globes each inspired by parts of a poem by Catalan poet Josep Vicenç Foix: 'Ho sap tothom i és profecia' which means  'Everyone knows, it's a prophecy.'

Previous years Pl Sant Jaume crib scene in a more traditional design.

barcelona navidad pessebre plaza sant jaume

You can see 4 different living nativity scenes at Poble Espanyol Spanish village at Christmas. Poble Espanyol has invited four Catalan villages to each stage their traditional theatre versions of living pessebres between 12:00 and 14:00, and again 16:00 and 18:00 hours. On these days the squares, streets and alleys of the Spanish Village really become a lovely a Christmas scene. Wonderful for the kids. You can always see the nativity scene on the Nativity facade of Gaudi's famous Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona.


Where to see a Christmas Pessebre in Barcelona?

Open-air pessebre in Plaça de Sant Jaume
Cloister of cathedral La Seu - entrance from Carrer del Bisbe
Mid-December to early January in Basílica de Santa Maria del Mar
Mostra de Pessebres de la Parròquia de Betlem - Las Ramblas 107

Sagrat Cor de Jesús del Tibidabo  in church on Tibidabo hill

Museu Monestir de Pedralbes Monastery of Pedralbes 

More information about pessebres

Website Barcelona Pessebristes
Website Association of Pessebre Vivents

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 November 2016 13:56