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December 23, 2010

Christmas in Barcelona, and Spain more widely, is a magical time. We have all you need to know about the region’s Christmas rituals. Merry Christmas!

Lots of small markets can be found throughout Barcelona at Christmas time. However, by far the largest and most popular is the Fira de Santa Llúcia, located outside Barcelona Cathedral in Plaza de la Seu. With lots of handmade decorations and gift ideas in a stunning setting, it is the perfect place to make you feel thoroughly festive. This year, the fair begins on 27th November and ends on December 23rd.

The Christmas lights in Barcelona are not to be missed. Plaza de Catalunya is your first port of call for impressive displays, especially those put on by El Corte Ingles department store. The Ramblas and Portal de l’Angel are also known for their festive lights.

The intricate Nativity scenes displayed around the city are not to be missed. The most famous scene is erected in Placa Sant Jaume each year by Barcelona’s City Council. The unusual Caganer (see below) will be included in the scene, although not without its controversy. In 2005, the Council banned it as its depiction of public defecation ‘set a bad example’. However, many Barceloneses were outraged by this kill-joy attitude and demanded it be reinstalled. This year, there will also be a large advent calendar on show in the square, with a new door being opened each day to display a message.

Be sure to try some Spanish turron during your December visit – a sweet which is especially popular at Christmas. Traditional turron is made from nougat studded with almonds, although today hundreds of flavours are available. Polvorones are also a popular festive treat made from a sweet, almond paste.

For an authentic Spanish Christmas, replace your Christmas pudding with El Roscon de Reyes. This circular cake is baked with a small figure of a King and a green bean inside. If you are lucky enough to find the king in your portion, you are allowed to wear a crown for the day and be treated like royalty. However, if you are left with the bean, dinner is on you! 

Traditional objects:

Caganer. Included in Catalonian nativity scenes, this strange object can be found in stalls throughout the region during December. Traditionally, the Caganer is a figure of a Catalan man in traditional dress going to the toilet! It is meant to be a symbol of good luck for the New Year. However, in recent years, the Catalan figure has been substituted for famous faces such as Barack Obama, Lewis Hamilton and Homer Simpson.

Tio de Nadal. Quintessentially Catalan, the ‘Caga Tio’ can be found in homes all over the region. It is a small log with a face painted on one end. During each day of December, children feed it sweet treats and cover it in a red blanket to take care of it. Finally, on Christmas Eve or Day, children break into the log to enjoy the delicacies to be found inside its blanket. Sometimes, the log will then be used as fuel to warm the house, ‘repaying’ the warmth it has received there.


This year, 5th of January 2010, the procession or the “Cavalgata” of the Three Wise Men will take place. They arrive in the port of Barcelona, Moll de la Fusta, at 5pm with fireworks.  The Three Wise Men are welcomed by the mayor on behalf of the citizens, and at 6:30pm they start the tour throughout the city (Vía Layetana, Pl. Urquinaona, Pl. Catalunya, Pelai, Rda. St. Antoni, Sepulveda, Vilamari, Lleida, terminating at the Font Màgica in Montjuic.

If you can’t assist that day to see the kings, there are small Cavalgata in several districts and quarters of Barcelona.

 For more information about Christmas in Barcelona you can visit:


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