What to do in Barcelona in January: Cakes, Kings and Choirs
visit barcelona in january

This was originally posted on the 22nd December 2018; it was updated 18th December 2019.

January in Barcelona is a quieter time, but that doesn’t mean that the festivities stop and the city shuts down for a month. On the contrary, as a Catholic country (officially, although many people in Cataluña are not religious), there are still two more holidays in January to be celebrated before the yuletide season comes to a close. There are also still many amazing activities taking place, and lots of fun things to see, so if you’re trying to combat the January blues with some Mediterranean merriment, let us guide you through the chilly streets and show you some of the great things you can do during January in Barcelona.

Don’t forget, visiting in low season means that all the major attractions will be less busy. January is a great month to visit Sagrada Familia and Gaudí’s other works, as well as to enjoy the emptier streets. We still suggest buying tickets in advance, just in case! If you’re visiting for a conference or a team-building, be sure to check out our Team Building Activities and Group Travel Services, and get in touch for help getting tickets to the main attractions for large groups.

Important! The average temperature in Barcelona in January is around 13 degrees, so while you might not want to go swimming, won’t need 50 layers and thermal undies to spend some time with us. Speaking of swimming…

Go to the beach: Primer bany de l’any 2020

When: 1st January

Where: Sant Sebastia beach, just in front of the Club Natació Atlètic-Barceloneta

Price: Free or 3€ for access to the showers and a certificate.

As with many coastal cities, hot and cold, Barcelona holds an event to celebrate the first swim of the year and it’s called “Primer bany de l’any”. This New Year’s Day swim will certainly combat any hangover you may have acquired due to the previous evenings antics, as the Mediterranean Sea can be mighty cold in the winter. If you’re looking for a fun but frosty way to wash away the cobwebs of 2019, or even just the memories of New Year’s Eve 2019, join the hundreds of other locals and visitors as they plunge into the water.

And it’s not just hangovers, the locals will tell you, that a dip in the sea will help. All year round in Barcelona, young and old residents alike will take an invigorating dip in the water, which you will hear promotes good health and a long life. If you think you can handle the New Year’s Day shivers for a year of positive energy then bring your swimsuit along to your winter holiday.

You can either join the swimmers waiting on Sant Sebastia beach for free, or you can register as an “official” swimmer on the Club Natació Atlètic-Barceloneta website and have access to a hot shower and receive a diploma when you exit the water.

Concert Agenda: Concert de Nadal de l’Orfeó Català

When: 3rd January

Where: Plaza del Rei, Gothic Quarter

Price: Free

If you’re a fan of choirs then you won’t want to miss this moving performance that takes place in the iconic Plaza del Rei. This is the square where Christopher Columbus is said to have presented the treasures he found in America to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. The Orfeón Catalán, a foundation that supports choirs in Catalonia, presents this concert, with acapella performances from the Men’s Choir and the Young Choir of the Orfeón Catalan. The music echoing off the medieval walls will fill you with festive cheer.

Plaza del Rei provides the perfect setting for these beautiful recitals. While the songs will be performed in Catalan, you don’t need to understand the words to appreciate the quality of the performances and the stunning setting. Also, you may recognise the melodies of classic Christmas carols like “Silent Night” (Santa Nit), “The First Noël” (On Aneu Pastorets) and “Oh Christmas Tree” (Oh Arbre Sant). Stay for one song or the whole evening, the enchanting voices of the choirs will help it feel like Christmas isn’t over yet.

Celebration: Día de los Reyes

When: 6th January

Where: Beginning at Port Vell, then spreading across the city

Price: Depends what you do! But the parade is free.

Speaking of Christmas not being over yet, the Día de los Reyes, or the Day of the Kings, is the highlight of the festive period for many children. On the 6th January, Catalan children will once again head to the Christmas tree to see what the three kings have brought them in the night. However, Barcelona’s way of celebrating this day is truly a sight to see – or should I say a sight to Sea?

On the evening of the 5th January, head to the Port Vell in Barcelona between 4 and 4.30pm and you will see hordes of families looking out to see, waiting for something. And what are they waiting for, you ask? Why, the Three Kings of course! That’s right, a highly decorated boat carrying the Three Kings will dock in Barcelona and so begins the celebration of King’s Day. From here begins the three hour parade through the city. It is, of course, amazing and exciting for children, adults will enjoy the experience as well; it’s a great way to combine a day out with a truly local experience. Be sure to try the traditional cake too, decorated with neon coloured fruits to represent a crown.

Celebration: Las Festas de Sant Antoni

When: 17th – 26th January

Where: Gracia

Price: Depends how much you eat and drink!

If you’re looking for something a little less Christmassy but still ready to celebrate, look no further than the street parties in the neighbourhood of Sant Antoni. These fiestas are the honour the neighbourhood’s namesake, Saint Anthony, whose Saint’s day in the Catholic calendar is the 17th January. Of course, in true Barcelona style, only one day of parties is never enough and this week-long event is sure to combat any January blues that may have settled.

Originally a celebration on the island of Mallorca, the festivities have travelled across the sea and landed in Barcelona, when Mallorcan and Catalan traditions collide: this means plenty of Human Towers, plenty of parades featuring the statues of giants (in Catalan they are called gegants – have a look on Google or show up on the day for a surprise!) and, most excitingly, a correfoc. This word translates to “fire run” and is a pyromaniacs dream! Fireworks, fire crackers and bonfires will form a part of these amazing celebrations, with people dressed as demons roaming the streets with pitchforks covered in fireworks – not for the faint-hearted!

If you’re not here in January, fear not, correfocs are part of many other celebrations during the year.

What else is on?

Visitors during January can make the most of the quieter streets with our fantastic personalised tours of Barcelona or keep warm in the kitchen with an amazing Spanish cooking class, visit our activities pages for more information.

We hope to see you soon!