Things to do in Barcelona

7 festive ways to celebrate Christmas in Barcelona

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Boasting a unique blend of Catalan traditions and Mediterranean charm, Christmas in Barcelona is truly remarkable. Dazzling light displays, local culinary delights, and artisan markets blend to create a festive spirit that’s palpable throughout the city. From the Fira de Santa Lucia to Caganer, the city breathes life into ancient customs. With a festive atmosphere tempered by mild winter weather, Barcelona provides an unforgettable holiday tapestry, woven with cultural richness and historic grandeur.

Christmas Traditions in Barcelona you must know!

Caganer - Barcelona Christmas

This intriguing Catalan tradition features a figurine, the Caganer, depicted in the act of defecation, usually hidden in nativity scenes. While it may seem odd, it is believed to bring luck and joy as it symbolizes fertility and fortune. With versions of the figurine ranging from traditional peasant garb to contemporary celebrity figures, it provides a humorous and uniquely Catalonian touch to the Christmas celebrations.

Tió de Nadal
Tió de Nadal

Also known as the 'Christmas log', this tradition involves a hollow log, often with legs, a face, and a red hat. Children 'feed' the Tió de Nadal in the days leading to Christmas and 'beat' it with sticks on Christmas Eve to have it 'defecate' presents. The process is accompanied by traditional songs, adding a unique and colorful twist to the holiday season.

Spanish Christmas Lottery
Spanish Christmas Lottery

Spanish Christmas Lottery: The Spanish Christmas Lottery, or 'El Gordo' as it's colloquially known, is one of the oldest and richest lotteries in the world. Established in 1812, the lottery has become a national event. The draw takes place on December 22nd, and the jackpot, often reaching into the billions of Euros, is distributed among thousands of winners, thereby spreading the holiday cheer far and wide.

8 ways to do spend Christmas in Barcelona 2023

Here’s what you can do on Christmas in Barcelona to make your day memorable:


Shop at the Christmas Market Barcelona

Christmas Market in Barcelona
Christmas Shopping GiftingLocal's Favourite

A large part of the Christmas charm in Barcelona is brought by the Christmas markets. The most renowned is the Fira de Santa Lucia, dating back to 1786, where over 300 stalls sell Nativity scenes, decorations, and unique gifts, engulfed in the delightful scent of Christmas treats like the roasted chestnuts and baked sweet potatoes. The Mercat de la Sagrada Familia offers stunning views of the iconic Basilica, making it a mesmerizing backdrop for your holiday shopping.


Catch a glimpse of the Barcelona Christmas decorations 2023

Christmas decoration in Barcelona
Christmas Decoration Must DoFamily-Friendly

Each year, Barcelona transforms into a twinkling wonderland as the city decks up with festive lights and ornaments. In 2023, the Christmas lighting is expected to be a grand affair, with famous streets such as Passeig de Gràcia, Las Ramblas, and Portal de l’Angel adorned with mesmerizing installations. The much anticipated Els Illums de Nadal begins on 22nd November and will stay on until the 15th of January 2024. These lights are switched on at 400 different locations in the city and cover an astonishing 100 kilometers in distance. Another spectacular highlight to look forward to is the Nativity scene at Plaça Sant Jaume, which every year delivers a contemporary twist to the traditional scene.


Visit Sagrada Familia Christmas festivities

Christmas in Barcelona
Midnight Mass ReligiousTop 5 things to do in Barcelona

Renowned for its breathtaking architecture, this iconic monument hosts a delightful Christmas fair within its premises. The various sculptures of the Sagrada Familia facade will be lit up and a musical narration will take place. The show will last approximately 15 minutes and will take place a few times in the evening. The show is free, and although the capacity of the grounds is limited, it can be seen easily from the street.

On Christmas Eve, the Sagrada Familia holds the Midnight Mass, a ceremony that celebrates the birth of Christ. The ceremony begins at 7:00 PM, and attending mass is free.


Christmas concerts at Palau De La Musica Catalana

Christmas in Barcelona
Live Entertainment Culture FixRomantic

During Christmas, the Palau De La Musica Catalana comes alive with exquisite performances by renowned artists and orchestras. This year, on Christmas day, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker will be played by the Orquestra Simonfica del Valles. Tuben Gimeno is the conductor for the show, with Jordi Brau as the narrator. Be sure to book in advance, as the spellbinding Christmas concert series at Palau De La Musica Catalana is a Barcelona holiday tradition not to be missed.


Catch a Flamenco Show to celebrate Christmas the Catalonian way

Christmas in Barcelona
Live Entertainment Catalonian CultureOffbeat

What better way to celebrate Christmas than with flamenco singing and dancing! Flamenco, with its passionate cantes, gypsy guitars and flamboyant dresses and castanets – is the first thing that springs to mind when one thinks of Spanish culture. Pair this captivating show with a typical drink of the region - Sangría or Cava and you have yourself a traditional way to celebrate Christmas with a genre exudes art and passion.

Read all about the best Flamenco shows in Barcelona 2023.


Visit the Christmas Fair Poble Espanyol

Christmas in Barcelona
Local's Favourite Month Long FestivitesGospel

If you like celebrating Christmas like the locals, head to Poble Espanyol for a true Catalonian Christmas. You'll find here all things christmas - the excitement, the good wishes, the festivities, caroling, Christmasy decor and more! Walk through 24 Christmas themed spaces related to characters, traditions and typical Christmas scenes. Children will be able to personally hand in their Christmas letters at Santa's Grotto (until 23 December) or in that of Their Majesties the Three Wise Men (from 26 December). Expect live music by gospel and swing groups to spread the Christmas spirit, acrobatic dances, theater and magic -an emblematic space brimming with family-friendly activities in Barcelona.

Event date: from 3 to 11 December, 17 and 18 December, 22 to 29 (except 25th) December and 2 to 8 January
Event times: Various opening times
Tickets: € 11 online


City's most popular Christmas Market - Fira de Santa Llucia

Christmas in Barcelona
Local's Favourite ShoppingMarkets

Yet another integral part of Barcelona’s Christmas celebrations is the Fira de Santa Llucia, the city's oldest Christmas market. Named after the patron saint of sight, it has been carrying forward the festive tradition for more than two centuries now. Here, local craftsmen and artists display their work, offering an array of ornamental wreaths, musical instruments, handmade toys, and unique Catalan Christmas figures like the 'Caga Tió' and 'Caganer'. The market also hosts 'Tió de Nadal', a fun-filled event for kids.

Best European Cities for Chirstmas Markets

Best European Cities for Christmas Markets

If you're planning a trip to Europe in winter, make sure to add these cities to your itinerary and experience the festive atmosphere of their Christmas markets.

Celebrate Dia de Reyes during your extended Christmas stay

Christmas in Barcelona
Local's Favourite Barcelona FestivalsParades

Die de Reyes is celebrated on 6 January 2024 to honor the Three Wise Men. If you're staying in Barcelona until January, make sure to attend this Catalonian festival (even bigger than Christmas!) It is one of the most celebrated festivals in Barcelona and the rest of Spain. Children are at the center of attention on this day, with The Three Wise Men bringing gifts for the whole family.

The Three Kings Parade takes place in the center of the city, where The Three Kings parade through the streets in regal clothing and throw sweets and gifts to children. You don’t need tickets to take part in the festival. The starting point is San Juan de la Cruz and the procession starts at 6 PM.

Fun Fact: In 2022, the Spanish Christmas Lottery took the world by storm as it reached a staggering total prize pool of 2.4 billion Euros!

Tips on how to spend Christmas in Barcelona

  • Barcelona in December is cold, with a daily average temperature of about 11℃. The nights, however, can go as low as 5 to 7℃. Be sure to bring along multiple layers of clothing to keep warm.
  • Do not miss the local Christmas markets, especially the ones surrounding Sagrada Familia.
  • Note that certain restaurants and tourist attractions will be closed on Christmas Day. Be sure to reserve your table in advance.
  • The metro will be operating on Christmas Day, although the operating hours are different. Please use the official site of the TMB to know the exact operating hours.
Christmas in Barcelona 2023