What To Do In Barcelona For Christmas
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 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.
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.
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
1 La Fira de Santa Llucia – Barcelona Cathedral Christmas Market
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.
2 Fira de Nadal a la Sagrada Familia – Sagrada Familia Christmas Market
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.