What to do in December in Barcelona
The holiday season is here, and Barcelona will look more beautiful than ever, with Christmas lights covering the whole city center. December is a month that can be pretty hectic but lots of fun, as there are many holidays to be celebrated.
Things to do: December in Barcelona
Fira de Santa Llúcia
This Christmas market is one of the most popular ones in the city. The market has been located in front of the Cathedral since 1786. One can find a wide range of craft products and Christmas items at the fair, amongst many other things. Over two hundred stalls are set up at the Pla de la Seu and Avinguda de la Catedral until Christmas time. Visiting the fair is the perfect activity for those that ready to get into the Christmas spirit.
Fira de Nadal del Port Vell
Another excellent Christmas market to visit is the one at Port Vell. The fair opens on December 5th and closes its doors on January 6. One of the many reasons why this fair is loved by so many is because of the beautiful location with the contrast between the view of the sea and the Christmas atmosphere. On the market’s opening day, there is always a music performance and the traditional lighting of the lights. There will most likely also be an ice skating rink and a carousel. There are many fun activities for children to participate in, such as learning how to row. Music entities and schools in the neighborhoods gather at the market to share their love for music with people. Another beautiful sight is the Maritime Museum of Barcelona decorating the historic boats in honor of Christmas time and the market.
Fira de Reis
For those looking for children’s gifts for the Twelfth Day, this is the perfect market to visit. Many locals come here to buy their Christmas and Twelfth Day presents since is such a wide range of toys. It is a lovely market to visit for families. Make sure to get some freshly made churros from one of the ‘xurrerias’. A visit to this market without having some churros is simply unacceptable. It is part of the tradition, after all.
The National Lottery takes place on the 22nd of December every year. It is broadcasted by all media channels. The children of the Colegio San Ildefonso (orphanage) from Madrid sing the year’s winning numbers and prizes, a unique tradition that is known to every Spaniard. The announcement of the Grand Prize is a big celebratory moment for everyone. The National Lottery is a longstanding tradition, as the first edition took place in 1812 in Cádiz. The lottery has the largest prize pool in the world, with €2,24 billion. The lucky winner of the Grand Prize receives €4 million.
Cursa dels Nassos
The last day of the year starts off with a running race. The 10-kilometer race starts at Carrer de Selva de Mar and ends at Plaça Ramon Calsina. The race is part of the tradition of L’Home dels Nassos, a mythical figure that symbolizes the end of the year and is part of Catalan folklore. The mythical figure can be admired at the special parade where he is portrayed as a friendly ‘capgròs,’ a man with a giant head. The race is open to anyone who wants to participate. One can register on the race’s official website and only has to pay a €16 registration fee. There isn’t a healthier way to end the year than to join in on this fantastic race!
Mar de Llums de Nadal
The Museum will still be decorated with Christmas lights for the first week of January. So for those who haven’t seen the beautiful decoration of the museum yet, this should be on top of your to-do list!
Els Llums de Sant Pau
You can have a really unique holiday experience at the modernist hospital Hospital de Sant Pau. Thousands of lights illuminate this former hospital complex during the Llums de Sant Pau. You can have a stroll while admiring all of the different light installments. It is definitely a special experience that is also very fun for kids.
Dia de la Constitució
This national holiday commemorates the sixth of December of 1978 when Spaniards voted in a favorable referendum on the Spanish Constitution that is currently in force. Regardless of the fact that this day is a national holiday and most people are off from work, stores in the city center will be open with regard to Christmas shopping.
Dia de la Inmaculada Concepció
On December 8th, Catalans celebrate Mary’s immaculate conception, also known as the day when the Catholic church proclaimed that the Virgin Mary was free from sin by the grace of God. This day is also the moment when Catalan children place Tío de Nadal in their living room. They then take care of this little Christmas log until Christmas night.
Nochebuena (Christmas Eve)
On Christmas Eve, families come together to cook a big meal and enjoy hours of sitting around the table, enjoying amazing Spanish food. Many Christians go to the church around midnight to attend the mass, also known as ‘Misa del Gallo’. Christmas Eve is also a memorable night for children because caga tío finally gives the children their presents by ‘’pooping’’ them out.
Navidad (Christmas Day)
The first day of Christmas is celebrated in a big way in Spain. On this day, all of the gifts from ‘Papa Noël’ are unwrapped, and families usually come together to enjoy an extensive family lunch. Almost everyone has a day off on Christmas Day and therefore gets to enjoy this precious time with their family and friends.
Sant Esteve (St Stephen’s Day)
The second day of Christmas is known in Catalonia as ‘Sant Esteve’. This day is celebrated similarly to the first day of Christmas. Many families and friends gather to have a nice, long meal together. Traditionally, ‘canelons’ are served as the main course. These are filled cannelloni and are usually made with ingredients that were left from the meal the day before. Many Catalans then enjoy the Christmas Concert that takes place in the extraordinary Palau de la Música Catalana.
Dia dels Sants Innocents
Celebrated on the 28th of December, Dia dels Sant Innocents is the day for Spaniards to share some more moments of laughter by making lots of jokes. It is similar to April Fool’s day. Not only can one enjoy all the jokes between friends and family on this day, but also in the media. So it might be a good idea to keep this date in mind so you don’t get fooled by any of your Spanish friends or colleagues.
Nochevieja (New Year’s Eve)
Like with many of the other celebrations throughout the year, New Year’s Eve is a moment when families come together to celebrate by having an extensive celebratory dinner. Traditionally everyone eats a grape with each of the twelve clock bells strikes at midnight on December 31 to welcome the New Year. This is known in Spain as ‘las doce uvas de la suerte’ which translates into ‘the twelve grapes of good luck’. Friends and families then gather on the streets to celebrate with neighbors and friends and enjoy the fireworks. In Barcelona, many people gather at the Font Màgica in Montjuïc to enjoy the biggest New Year’s Eve party of the city and to enjoy the water and firework show. There are many different parties all around the city. Poble Espanyol is the place where some of the biggest NYE parties take place. The next day, those who can handle the cold can join a large number of people for a New Year’s dive at the Sant Sebastià beach.