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Bon Nadal, Bones Festes!
Want to get holiday mood, indulge yourself in the festivities, feel that special holiday magic that only comes once a year? Welcome to the magical Christmas activities in Barcelona! The great part is that the holiday season in Spain extends until January 6 on Three Kings’ Day (unlike in the US), which gives us an extra week to celebrate and gorge on some turron and xocolata. Read on for magical Christmas activities in Barcelona, 2019, baby!
This year’s theme is “Cuitat Màgica”, A Magical City. Plaça Catalunya will be transformed into an enchanted place for performances and Instagrammy Christmas cuteness:
Performances by Els Nadalòvitx, a quartet playing songs in international languages in the spirit of Christmas. Also, theater performances by Qui ve per Nadal? (“Who’s Coming for Christmas?”), a zany performance where kids can participate and learn how Barcelona is a friendly, sustainable city.
There will also be a backdrop of large, inflatable rabbits in a forest, and play areas and adventure zones for the kids. Plaça Cataunya is sure to be a fun place to hang during Christmas whether or 2 or 90!
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.
The Pessebre, or Nativity Scene, in Plaça Sant Jaume changes every year. Let’s just say, it’s usually “artsy”. 2013 brought us a modern-day Nativity Scene.
2019 is no exception. This year, scenographer Paula Bosch created a montage called “Sleeping Objects”, composed of Christmas figures, decorations, a Christmas star, and more. The fun is finding each character of a Nativity scene inside. Learn more of the 2019 Nativity scene here.
SCHEDULE: November 29 – January 6. 10am – 10pm.
Just the sheer scale alone makes a grown man squeal with Christmas delight. Ornaments as big as a large beach ball? Yeah! You can find these trees mostly Plaça Sant Jaume, Passeig de Grácia, and Plaça del Ángel.
The bright Christmas lights give the city that special winter wonderland touch, which helps since it doesn’t snow in Barcelona! Nyam nyam nyam, glup glup glup, xin xin xin, muac muac muac! These and other holiday-related onomatopoeic sounds brighten up Gran Via starting at Plaça Universitat. See the lights around Plaça del Ángel, Plaça Catalunya, and pretty much every neighborhood throughout Barcelona!
Several Christmas markets pop up around Barcelona, and the Fira de Nadal de la Sagrada Familia shares a spectacular space in front of the famous Sagrada Familia basilica. With about 100 stalls, the Christmas market sells holiday decorations, Christmas trees, nativity scenes, handmade toys, and the traditional caganers and caga tiós.
2019 SCHEDULE: November 23 – December 23, Weekdays and holidays: 10am – 9:00pm, weekends – 10am – 10:00pm
The mother of all Barcelona Christmas markets, the Santa Llúcia fair, dresses up the plaza right in front of the Barcelona Cathedral. The famed market fills up fast on a weekend, so much that you’ll feel like cattle going through. If you’re a browser, you probably won’t mind going at a snail’s pace and looking at the decorated stalls.
The Fira de Santa Llúcia also has a program of activities, including a gigantic tió de Nadal for children to beat with a stick and a Carassa de Nadal (a big head) who spits out candy for the kids.
Practice your Olympic ice-skating skills at the ice skating rink at the Pista de Hielo at the L’Illa! ( <– Click on the link to get a discount!) Skaters can practice their 360º spinning in the main area, and the small novices can skate in a reserved smaller rink. To practice, children can hang on to these cute little penguins to guide them. And If you don’t feel like skating, you can hang out on the sidelines and laugh at people as they eat it on the ice.
Sessions are 25 minutes long, and minimum age is 3.
Centro Comercial L’illa Diagonal, Avenida Diagonal, 557
SCHEDULE: November 30 – December 12
Nestled in the Barri Gótic, Granja La Pallaresa has a reputation for having the best hot chocolate in town. You can also order whipped cream by the plateful and scoop it up to top your drink. Paired with xurros or melindros, this drink makes for a rich, filling snack. And their waiters wear white shirts and black bow ties — a nice touch, methinks.
The Magic Fountain is a show of vibrant lights, dancing waters, and all done to festive holiday music. This year, they’ll have a special New Year’s Eve show. Starting at 9:30pm on December 31st, Group F will put on a massive pyrotechnic show. At 12 minutes before midnight, they’ll go through the 12 months of 2019, paying homage and bidding goodbye through music and images.
Then expect an EXPLOSIVE PYROTECHNIC SHOW for 2020!
Magic Fountain New Year’s Eve show, Plaça, Carles Buïgas, 1. Starts at 9:30pm, December 31.
The three kings make rock stars look bad. On January 5, the men of the Orient arrive in a boat at the Port of Barcelona while screaming kids yell, “Melchor! Balthasar! Gaspar!” The Three Kings’ Parade starts Via Laeitana and ends at the Magic Fountain in Montjuic. The three Wise men and other carloads of characters throw fistfuls of sweets to the people. Bring a bag for your goodies!
But every barri, or neighborhood, has their own parade, so if you can’t make it to the center, you can at least stay local and won’t have to fight the larger crowds for candy.
SCHEDULE: The three kings arrive at 4pm at Moll de la Fusta. Read the full schedule at the Three Kings’ Parade website.
Following the parade the next day, January 6, children open their presents and eat a Three Kings cake, or a Tortell de Reis (Catalan), Roscón de Reyes (Spanish). You might bite into a tiny prize nestled inside, such as a ceramic figurine, as to which you are considered to be one lucky duck. But if bite into a bean, you have to pay for the cake!
Now go spend Christmas with people you love. Or go solo if that’s what it takes this year. That’s it for now! Sending a MUAC MUAC to you and yours!
Have you ever spent Christmas in Barcelona? Or are you coming?
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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