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Celebrating Christmas in Barcelona is a unique experience. For one thing, where else can get presents from the Catalan Christmas log, the tió de nadal. Or when they squeal when they hand their handwritten letter to the Three Kings. Here are FUN Christmas activities for kids in Barcelona 2019!
And while we’re officially in December, I’m thrilled that holiday celebrations run until January 6, Three Kings’ Day. So let’s get our Christmas on — and make holiday some memories with our kids, for pete’s sake.
The best and largest Christmas market in Barcelona, the Santa Llúcia market is the place to get you drunk on holiday spirit. This year marks the 233rd year! You’ll find rows and rows of holiday-laden stalls in Plaça de La Seu, the plaza of the Barcelona Cathedral. Kids will love looking at the nativity scenes with miniature utensils and chairs, dazzling ball ornaments, and Christmas trees and hand-weaved wreaths. And who can’t not chuckle when we see the caganers and tiós de nadal?
Come early – because by 12pm, this place gets crowded on weekends.
Santa Llúcia Fair website. Weekdays: 11:00am – 8:30pm. Weekends and holidays: 10:00am – 9:30pm. November 29-December 22, 2019.
One of my favorite activities is to check out the Carassa de Nadal procession on the weekends. This “big head” on wheels parades around the Santa Llúcia market, followed by a music band and some friends throwing confetti. And watch kids run to the floor when he spits out candy. If you don’t see him around the market, he also glides around the streets in El Gotic district.
La Carassa de Nadal. SCHEDULE: 12 noon starting at the Fira de Santa Llúcia on November 30, December 1, 14, 15, 21, and 22 at 12pm noon. See the website for where he’ll show up exactly!
At the Santa Llúcia Fair, kids can beat the huge tió de Nadal, or caga tió. If you don’t know who he is, he’s a traditional Catalan figure — a log perched on two sticks with a happy face on it. And he poops presents for kids on Christmas Eve.
To find the tió gegant, climb the steps that lead up to the Barcelona Cathedral — on Santa Llúcia fair side. You’ll see a line of kids waiting to get their stick so they can “beat” the tió while singing a traditional caga tió song. Here, they beat a piece of wood instead of the log himself (probably to prevent wear and tear on the tió year after year).
At the end of the song, someone pulls sweets and other goodies from under the blanket. It’s a sponsored event. Two years ago, my kids got some candy and a sample package of ham from La Selva brand. *scratching head*
Tió gegant website November 30, December 1, December 6, December 7, December 8, December 15 – 10:30am – 1:30pm, 4:30pm to 7:30pm; December 14 – 4:30pm to 7:30pm; December 2, December 3, December 4, December 5, December 9, December 10, December 11, December 12, December 13, December 16, December 17, December 18 – 10:30am – 1:30pm
Visit 100 stalls at the Christmas fair at the Sagrada Familia. Not a bad backdrop for your holiday shopping, right? It’s similar to the Santa Llúcia fair, where they sell nativity scenes, Christmas trees and decorations, and handmade gifts like jewelry or warm slippers. Or try warm crepes or sugar-covered nuts.
Read more about the Sagrada Familiar market in this post!
Official website. November 23 – December 23, Weekdays and holidays 10am – 9pm. Weekends 10am – 10pm.
If you’re kids can stay up past midnight, check out the special New Year’s Eve show at the Magic Fountain. Starting at 9:30pm on December 31st, they’ll do a theatrical pyrotechnic show at the dancing waters. At 12 minutes before midnight, they’ll go through the 12 months of 2019 with cool images, music, and fireworks. Don’t miss it. It’s FREE!
For the full Christmas schedule, visit the Magic Fountain New Year’s eve event!
When it comes to gift-giving in Catalonia, Santa Claus comes in second place, right after the Three Kings. At El Corte Ingles, Papa Noel sets up a little house with some helpers. You can drop off a letter and sit on his lap. And you get a free professional photo with him. You just have to come back and pick it up 4-5 days later.
On November 20 to January 4, El Corte Ingles at several Barcelona locations will have lots of Christmas events! Clowns, magic shows, puppet shows, musicals, circus, and more! Check it out here:
….including the El Corte Ingles at Francesc Macia, 2nd floor and the El Corte Ingles at Portal de l’Ángel, 6th floor.
There’s also usually a friendly Santa Claus standing outside the department store on weekends. He greets the small kids and hands out candy. I’ve seen him at El Corte Ingles at Plaça Catalunya and El Corte Ingles at Plaça del Ángel.
For photos with Santa, November 30 – December 24. The schedule varies!
Every year, a huge Nativity Scene is set up in the Plaça de Sant Jaume by the Barcelona City Council. And every year, they mix up it up from traditional to modern interpretations of the Nativity.
This year (2019), the theme is called “Sleeping Objects”, filled with Christmas decorations, presents, and more. Try to find the characters of a traditional Nativity scene, like Baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and the others. See a photo of it here.
Info: Plaça Sant Jaume pessebre website. SCHEDULE: November 29 – January 6. 10am – 10pm.
If you want to see a traditional Nativity Scene, go to Frederic Mares Museum, where you can see it at the museum terrace. (IT’S FREE!) SCHEDULE: November 29, 6:30pm (inauguration) to February 2. Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 7pm.; Sundays and holidays 11am to 8pm. December 24 – January 6, it closes at 9pm. Museu Frederic Mares official website here.
This year, Plaça Catalunya is the central place for activities. The theme of this year is “Una Ciutat Màgica (A Magical city)”.
Performances are going on all day:
Els Nadalòvitx, a musical quartet, will perform songs in differerent languages on the stage! Who’s Coming for Christmas is an interactive theater show about aTaster, a Christmas Log Trainer, a Coal Merchant, a Toy Inventor, a Tree Planter and a Gift Wrapper. Join in on their hijinx! Take photos with a backdrop of inflatable bunnies, have the tots (ages 1-3) play in a mini wonderland, and older kids (ages 4-8) challenge themselves in an adventure circuit.
Come nightfall, the Plaça Catalunya comes alive – aurallly – as you listen to singing birds, rustling leaves, rushing waterfalls and more.
Info: Nadal at Plaça Catalunya. SCHEDULE: from December 20 to December 31, every day except 25 December. 11am to 9pm, except on 20 and 26 December (begins at 6pm), 24 December (closes at 6pm) and 31 December, closes at 4pm.
Highly recommended! We all know that Santa has a workshop in the North Pole. Well, the Three Kings have their factory and warehouse right here at Fabra i Coats. See the workers prepare the gifts to be delivered on the Twelfth Night. From the outside, three floors will be decorated with colorful lights. And you can see the presents move across a conveyor belt, ready to be shipped and delivered come the Eve of Three Kings’ Day. It’s free!
Now someone help me explain. “Mommy, why does my toy say ‘Made in China’?”.
Fabra i Coats website. December 27, 28, 29, 30. January 2, 3, 4. 5pm – 9pm. Last entrance is at 8:45pm.
If you’ve never been to Poble Espanyol, you’ll love seeing a small world of the villages of Spain. But for Christmas, they’ve got events throughout the holiday season.
December 6-8, December 21-29: Live music, Santa’s grotto, roller disco, , caga tió, a Christmas market animation, music, and workshops. It also has a living Nativity scene. Real people dress up in character as Joseph, Mary, Jesus, and the usual cast of the three Kings, shepherds, and even goats and donkeys. And it’s all set in a realistic agrarian backdrop, stable and blocks of hay included. For the December 21-29 dates only, they’ll also have the new Euphoria dance and circus show!
For adults! They’ll have a Christmas food fair with local products, wine tastings, pairings, an artisan beer fair, vermouth among vinyl, swing dancing and much more.
Info: Poble Espanyol official website. Free for kids ages 4 and under.
At this highly anticipated event, the Three Kings and their entourage will arrive on January 5 at 4:00pm at the Moll de La Fusta. They’ll get on a large, elaborate float and wave to the crowds of excited children. Before them, we’re greeted by hundreds of assistants, magical creatures, and everyday citizens who’ve signed up to join in the festivities.
Expect lots of rowdy crowds, hoping paraders will throw candy their way while yelling out the Kings by name. The parade starts at Avenida Marquès de l’Argentera at 6pm. Check out the full route on the website. If you don’t fancy doing the main city parade, every neighborhood has their own (Shhhh…)
SCHEDULE: The Wise Men arrive at 4pm at Moll de la Fusta. Check out the full schedule at the Three Kings’ Parade website.
Have your kids written their letter to Los Reyes? Then give it to the pages Estel and Omar. They’re very official looking! This year, it’s at Plaça Sant Jaume waiting for your letter.
Royal pages. SCHEDULE: January 2, 3, 4 (11am to 1:30pm, 5pm to 7:30pm)
Think you’ll be doing any of these activities in Barcelona? Have you been to Barcelona during Christmas?
California native, churro aficionado, and mom of 3, Justine Ancheta writes fervently about Barcelona and Spain. Since 2008, she's been eating burnt onions (calçots) and tripping on cobblestones in the Gothic Quarter. She shares tips on popular attractions, exposes offbeat non-touristy spots, and gives insight on exploring Barcelona with kids. Her next Catalan culture challenge: top level of a human castle (castellers).
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