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Travel for Bliss

Many people come to Barcelona to escape the cold during the Christmas period, but it’s also a great place to enjoy an alternative holiday experience. There are many things to do in Barcelona for Christmas, from beautiful Christmas markets to wandering through the sparkling Christmas lights. Come and enjoy the festive spirit while enjoying tapas, vermouth, and sunshine.

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Barcelona Christmas Traditions

When visiting Barcelona during the Christmas period it helps to have some context around their Christmas traditions. The Catalan Christmas traditions are unique and you won’t find anything else like them. So how does Barcelona celebrate Christmas?

Caga Tio

Caga Tio translates to Uncle Poo and is one of the strangest Christmas traditions you’ll ever discover. The story goes that you have to go to the forest and search for a particular log (you can actually book fun experiences to do this). The log is wearing a little Catalan hat and a blanket, and his name is Caga Tio. You bring this log back to your house and feed it Turrón, a Catalan sweet that’s similar to Nougat. On Christmas Eve the children then get given sticks and beat Caga Tio until he poops out presents. The bigger ones are set up so that the presents are hidden under the blanket, so the children can see him getting fatter as they feed him. There’s even a song you sing while you beat him, which my husband finds hilarious.

What To Do In Barcelona For Christmas

Caganer

In Spain, they create fantastic and highly detailed nativity scenes for Christmas. In Catalonia, they go further and add a Caganer to their scene. What is a Caganer you might be asking? Well, it’s a farmer taking a dump in a field. To have a Caganer is to bring good luck and prosperity for the new year. I know, it’s really weird. This tradition has now evolved into Christmas stalls selling anyone from politicians to celebrities taking the famous dump. Have someone who loves football? Buy them the Messi Caganer. Someone else likes Disney, don’t worry they’ve got that covered as well.

What To Do In Barcelona For Christmas

Turrón

Turrón is a type of Nougat made in Spain. In Catalonia, it has an important job as the food of Caga Tio. If you buy a Caga Tio, you should also buy Turrón so that you can make him fat and get more presents. It’s very tasty, so make sure to feed yourself at the same time. You can buy this in any sweet shop, market, or normal supermarket.

Weather In Barcelona For Christmas

The weather in Barcelona during December is usually sunny. It can get down to a low of four degrees during the night time, but the day time maximums can range from thirteen to twenty degrees. When the suns out you don’t even need your thick winter jacket. Come and enjoy the magic of the holiday season while not losing feeling in your fingers and toes. Weather in Barcelona for Christmas can be great, so you can plan indoor and outdoor activities.

What To Do In Barcelona For Christmas

What To Do In Barcelona For Christmas

Christmas Markets

What To Do In Barcelona For Christmas

1 La Fira de Santa Llucia – Barcelona Cathedral Christmas Market

Where

Avenida de la Catedral. Find the Barcelona Cathedral and you’ll find the markets.

When

Dates: 29 November – 23 December 2019

Opening Times: 1030 – 2230 Monday – Sunday

What To Do In Barcelona For Christmas

This is the biggest and oldest Christmas market in Barcelona. Over 300 hundred stalls are squeezed into the plaza before the Barcelona Cathedral. Here you can buy your traditional Catalan Christmas presents like the Caga Tio or Caganer, and also do shopping for Christmas decorations and Christmas trees. At night time, with the lights all lit up, it’s a magical experience. This also means it can get very busy, so be patient and watch your stuff, there are pickpockets in the area. If you don’t want to be rubbing shoulders, go during the day or when it first opens. All the colours in the stalls are still magical, there are just fewer people to share it with. You can find more information in my Barcelona Christmas Markets guide.

What To Do In Barcelona For Christmas

2 Fira de Nadal a la Sagrada Familia – Sagrada Familia Christmas Market

Where

Placa Sagrada Familia. It is the park at the back of Sagrada Familia.

When

Dates: 29 November – 23 December 2019

Opening Times: 1030 – 2230 Monday – Sunday

What To Do In Barcelona For Christmas

Sagrada Familia is always a must-see when visiting Barcelona, and the experience just gets better in December with the Sagrada Familia Christmas market. It circles the park in Plaça Sagrada Familia and is filled with lights, Christmas trees, and traditional Catalan presents. There’s also more food at this market, with sweets and churros sold in food trucks, and there’s a bar further into the park for drinks and tapas (I wouldn’t really recommend the food). Santa visits this Barcelona Christmas market on the 21st and 22 December. The children can give him their letters and get photos with him. The best part about the market is having Sagrada Familia as a backdrop. It’s a beautiful, unique church and will make your photos a little bit more special.

What To Do In Barcelona For Christmas

Giant Caga Tio

In the Plaça between the Barcelona Cathedral and the Santa Llucia Christmas Market is a giant Caga Tio. This is a fun Catalan tradition that the kids can have a go at. Line up with the little ones and they can have a go at whacking Caga Tio to shake some presents out of him. They all sing the song together and get a little gift at the end. No one will have holiday photos quite like yours if you give this a go. If you want a Caga Tio souvenir to remember this by just head to the Christmas market behind you and grab one of the many Caga Tio’s on sale.

What To Do In Barcelona For Christmas

Christmas Tree and Miniature City in Plaça Sant Jaume

Plaça Sant Jaume is one of the beating hearts of Barcelona, as this is where the government offices are. In this square they have a giant Christmas tree all lit up with decorations. The city hall is lit with lights at night time to accompany it. There’s usually something going on here, whether it’s Gegants (Catalan Giants), Castellers (human towers), or protests. They also have a miniature city all lit up, and at night time it looks super beautiful.

What To Do In Barcelona For Christmas
What To Do In Barcelona For Christmas

Barcelona Christmas Lights

Barcelona does Christmas lights right! On the last Thursday of November, they get turned on and the city is transformed into a magical, glittering world. There are many places to see them and some of the hotels get in on the excitement. If you’re in Barcelona for the holiday season you should definitely go for a walk to see them.

Passeig de Gracia is the best place to see Christmas lights. The whole road is lit up with streamers of lights and glowing blue butterflies. It’s really magical and makes the holiday season come alive. You can also see Casa Batlló lit up in different colours and spotlights.

What To Do In Barcelona For Christmas

The suburb Gracia is a local area in Barcelona known for its bars and restaurants. It also does beautiful light shows, especially on Travessera de Gracia, which they close on Saturday nights. On Thursday when the lights are turned on they do a traditional drumming show with glowing birds (still haven’t been able to find out what the significance of the birds is).

What To Do In Barcelona For Christmas

Las Rambles gets decked out with Christmas lights every December. This turns the already beautiful walkway into a treelined light show. It’s the perfect place to wander for stereotypical souvenirs of Barcelona. In December they sell snow globes of Sagrada Familia.

What To Do In Barcelona For Christmas

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Comments:

  • Melissa

    December 11, 2019

    Lots of great information in this post! I love Barcelona!! I have to come and check it out for Christmas time : )

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  • December 11, 2019

    Oh I love Barcelona! I remember our guide showing us the caganers in the shop windows. Now I want to go back to buy one of those little lucky figurines.

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  • December 11, 2019

    Great information! Barcelona looks like such an amazing place to visit for Christmas and this guide is extremely helpful!

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    • December 14, 2019

      Beautiful Barcelona looks even more magical at Christmas. I’d love to visit again although I went in February so maybe I’m due a warmer time of year

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  • December 12, 2019

    Lovely! I’ve never been to Barcelona (or Spain) but would love to go any time of the year!

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  • December 12, 2019

    I would never think about going to Barcelona around Christmas time but dammit this is beautiful! And I really like how you are describing local traditions as well!

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  • December 14, 2019

    Oh wow. It looks so beautiful. And not super cold either! What a great Christmas location to visit. Thank you.

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  • Aga

    December 14, 2019

    I really enjoyed reading this post and learning the Christmas traditions in Barcelona. I was there last year at the end of November , and there were already many lights up and Christmas trees here and there. I would love to go back when Christmas is in full swing to partake in all the festivities.

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  • December 14, 2019

    This is such perfect timing! I can’t wait to visit Barcelona and check out all the markets and experience the stories you share first hand.

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  • December 15, 2019

    Only have been to Barcelona in summer and it´s a few years ago already. Definitely a great idea to go there during winter and especially during the Christmas Season. 🙂

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  • December 15, 2019

    A cold Christmas and getting to experience amazing Christmas markets is high on our bucket list but I hadn’t thought of Barcelona. It’s definitely on our list now..

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  • December 15, 2019

    I love Barcelona and it looks especially dreamy during Christmas! Looks like I’ll just have to go back during the holiday season. 🙂

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  • December 15, 2019

    I have been to Barcelona a couple of times, but now I see that going there for Christmas must be super beautiful. Thank you for sharing, definitely on my bucket list 🙂

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  • December 15, 2019

    Aww I love Barcelona and although I’ve already been there 4-5 times, I’ve never been for Christmas and now all I want to do is go there right now *w*

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  • December 15, 2019

    Oooh Barcelona looks amaaaazing at Christmastime! I love all the lights and the sound of feeling Christmassy without freezing.
    This is probably a silly question, but what *is* Caga Tio? Is it a big christmas log!?

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  • Yukti Agrawal

    December 16, 2019

    Barcelona is my favorite city in Spain and I can imagine how beautiful it must be during Christmas time. I would love to visit this charming place during Christmas not this year but next year.

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  • December 16, 2019

    Ahhhhhh… serious holiday wanderlust! I’m really thinking of doing a Christmas market trip up to Europe next year so this post is definitely going to come in handy! ❤️

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  • December 16, 2019

    Love Barcelona and wow! The Chirstmas lights look so good!

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