The shops are already brimming with Christmas temptations, and as we are well into November, we think it’s an acceptable time to talk Christmas and Barcelona.
It’s not likely to be a white Christmas; the last decent amount of snow the city saw was back in 2010! It was certainly a rare sight to see La Sagrada Familia with a dusting of crisp white snow. Nevertheless, Barcelona has its fair share of festive activities to get us in the Christmas mood.
Probably the most charming of all the Christmas frivolities, and let’s face it, who does not enjoy a stroll around a cute Christmas market?
Barcelona has a few on offer for you to peruse and generally ease into the Christmas Spirit.
In the heart of the Gothic Quarter, the market, Fira de Santa Llucia, has a grand backdrop offered by the Gothic Cathedral. This market is where locals can buy a real Christmas tree and all sorts of adornments to decorate it with. You will also find ornaments which are mini figurines of all sorts of prominent public personas, from politicians to footballers, which are crouching and seemingly ‘going to the toilet’! Your eyes are not deceiving you, this is in fact what they are imitating and locally they are called ‘carganers’. They appear in local nativity scenes, although their origins are unknown, it’s a strong Catalan Tradition.
You may also see wooden logs with faces, legs and a cheery Christmas hat. Locally know ass Caga Tio, children feed the animals until just before Christmas, and then to proceed to hit them with sticks to make them ‘pass’ sweets. Another quirky tradition for you!
Other notable Christmas markets are ‘Fira de Nadal Sagrada Familia’ located right by the famous monument and also ‘Fira de Reis a la Grand Via’.
Markets normally open from the beginning of December:
Without real snow or ice to play with, Barcelona makes its own fun with a temporary ice rink that opens at the beginning of December. Historically this was located in Placa Catalunya, but has since found a new home in the area of town called Hospitalet. A great activity for families and adults alike. Gets those boots on and enjoy a few laps on the ice to the hits of the moment normally blasting out to create that party atmosphere. The link below does not contain a typo, GEL is the Catalan word for ice, see what they did there?
This you can do at any time of year, but there is something decidedly Christmassy to us about a steaming cup of hot chocolate and a huge slab of cake. The weather in Barcelona in the winter is relatively mild, but when the sun goes down, the chill arrives. What better way to warm up than overloading on Christmas calories! (We worry about the excess weight in January…). These two lovely cafes, serve scrumptious homemade cakes and an array of hot beverages to warm right down to those cold feet. Apart from the yummy offerings it is the theming and decoration that make these places such cosy hideaways. Pudding have a fairy tale style café in Pau Claris, and a newly opened Harry Potter based one on Diagonal 515. Well worth working a visit here into you schedule.
Like many cities the Christmas light displays are worth a visit in themselves. In previous years the local government had cut back in this area but now the twinkle and shine of Christmas cheer is making its mark once again. The most impressive displays are normally to be found on Paseo de Gracia, Placa Catalunya and the Ramblas area of the city, but as lights are still be switched on a time of writing, let’s see what new additions this year may bring. One place for a great view of the lights around Placa Catalunya, whilst nursing a glass of bubbles, is the restaurant at the top of the large department store ‘El Corte Ingles’.
You may not know this but the festive season here in Barcelona and the rest of Spain extends to the 6th of January which is also a bank holiday. The tradition from the visit of the three kings to Jesus is an important one in Catholic Spain and highly celebrated by locals. Santa Claus being a relatively new phenomenon here it is the ‘Reyes’ (kings) who deliver children most of their presents on the 6th. In fact the three kings make quite an entrance on the 5th of January; in Barcelona they arrive by boat and begin a procession around the packed streets of the city, distributing sweets to the children along the way. A great event to witness if you are visiting.
So what are you waiting for, gets that last-minute festive break booked to Barcelona today!
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