When you think of Barcelona, your first thought may be sandals, sunscreen, days spend on the beach and warm evenings spent sipping a glass of wine. And while this is all true for summer, Barcelona’s charm does most definitely not disappear along with the warm sunny days. Come the winter season, Barcelona is as alive and active as ever, with an incredibly joyful Christmas atmosphere, and more than enough activities for people of all ages, tastes and preferences. So book your Renfe-SNCF en Coopération and delight yourself in all the incredible winter activities there are to do in Barcelona!
Belenes Vivientes - Living Nativity Scenes
The Spanish take great pride in their beloved tradition of organizing live nativity scenes, which take place unfailingly every winter. There are several to be seen throughout the country, but one of the best can be found in the Catalan town of Fonollosa, located just about over an hour outside of central Barcelona.
A living nativity scene
El Pessebre Vivent del Bages (Catalan for “The Living Manger of Bages”), is a live representation not only of the traditional nativity scene of Mary and Joseph standing over baby Jesus in the manger, but also of several other biblical stories. This particular Nativity Village started in 1977 by the townsmen and women of the area, taking place inside the remains of an old castle, Les Torres de Fals. It has grown significantly since then, both in activity and reputation, and today over 18 biblical scenes are played out. People of all ages spend a large part of the year preparing their acts, costumes and decorations for the sets, and their hard work and effort shines through in the magnificence and beauty of their results. This year they will celebrate their 39th edition, and will take place on the 18th, 24th and 26th of December, as well as the 1st, 6th, 7th and 8th, and the 14th of January. Adult tickets cost only 10€, with discounts available for children (discounts may also apply to tickets purchased online.
If you are looking for something slightly closer to central Barcelona, other living Nativity Scenes also take place throughout the city, such as in the Poble Espanyol.
Fira de Santa Llúcia - Santa Llúcia Christmas Market
Although originally organized as a one-day feast to celebrate Santa Llúcia, the Fira de Santa Llúcia has become Barcelona’s favorite Christmas Market. The first references to this market date back to the year 1786, with a couple of artisans setting up stalls near the Barcelona Cathedral, selling small clay and paper mangers and other christmas figurines. It slowly grew over the years, more recently bringing together over 300 experts in all trades, with wooden chalets, providing the most charming and joyful Christmas cheer, and the most adorable and delicious christmas gifts, decorations and treats. The atmosphere and smells of delicious christmas cookies will transport you to a magical Christmas wonderland, and it is the perfect way to spend a chilly Christmas afternoon.
Fira de Santa Llúcia in Barcelona
The market takes place every year along the Avenida de la Catedral, which just happens to be the location of one of the city’s most famous monuments - the Barcelona Cathedral.
No matter who you may bee looking for Christmas presents for (or even not at all), it is a beautiful market to walk around and admire all the beautiful handmade trinkets - including jewelry, accessories, clay figurines, christmas ornaments and other decorations, and most importantly, typically Catalan Christmas traditions. It is the perfect place to get a real feel of a truly Catalan Christmas, while admiring the beautiful streets and architecture surrounding it! This year, the market will be open from the 25th of November until the 23rd of December. Read here for other Christmas markets to check out in Barcelona!
Uvas de Fin de Año - New Year’s Grapes
Be it superstition, tradition, or just purely for fun, but we all have our New Year’s traditions, to give us that extra little boost of confidence or luck, to believe in all the good fortune that will come our way in the exciting new year. New Year’s Eve is always a special day - irreplicable in its cheer, atmosphere and pure happiness. It is a day to leave all troubles of the past in the old year, and turn our heads to welcome all the wonderful things the new year has in store for us. The Spanish choose to mark this magic moment by eating 12 fresh grapes, at the 12 stroked of midnight that mark the end of one year and the beginning of another. And although this may seem simple - eating one grape per stroke of the bell is actually more difficult that it may initially appear. Strokes one and two no problem, but by the end you may find yourself with a mouth full of grapes, and a slight difficulty keeping them there while yelling Happy New Year as soon as the last bell has sounded. But it is all part of the fun, and eating grapes as fast as you can, surrounded by friends, family and loved ones is too Spanish a way to spend this precious moment too miss out on. So be sure to buy your grapes ahead of time - you can also find them conveniently packaged in groups of 12, generally with a couple extra just in case, and sometimes wrapped in champagne glasses, ready to pour the champagne as soon as they’re gone.
Twelve grapes for New Year's Eve
The “official” Barcelona New Year’s Party takes place in the area around the Magic Fountain - between the MNAC (Catalonia’s National Art Museum) and the Plaza de Espanya - where roads are cut off and thousands of people join together to get the best view of the midnight fireworks. The party starts hours beforehand, with plenty of live music and street performers to liven up the mood, and the lighting and decorations alone are worth seeing. There are plenty of other places to spend the night as well, along with great bars such as Flaherty’s Irish Pub, clubs such as Razzmatazz or Opium, and you can always find people in the streets with parties of their own. Just be sure to book tickets ahead of time for bars, restaurants or clubs, as they fill up quickly in anticipation for this incredible night! Read here about other events happening around barcelona for New Years!
Cabalgata de Reyes - Three Kings Parades
Although in many places Christmas festivities end with the beginning of the exciting New Year - in Barcelona they are far from over. In fact, it is mainly due to globalization and the commercialization of Christmas Day that Spaniards have come to give more emphasis to the celebration and exchange of gifts on Christmas Day itself. Traditionally, Christmas gifts were given on the 6th of January - more commonly known as Three King’s Day or Day of the Epiphany - honoring the fact that it was not Santa Claus who came shimmying down the chimney on the day of baby Jesus’ birth but in fact the three wise men who came bearing gifts, two weeks later. And although some Spanish families have adopted the more western custom of exchanging gifts on Christmas, the 6th of January continues to be one of the season’s most significant holidays. It is a National holiday - and you will watch the city fill up not only with decorations and a feel of pure joy and happiness, but also large parades. The Cabalgatas de Reyes take place all over the country, with large floats parade through the city with Kings on top, along with their page boys throwing sweets and presents to the children in the crowds below. It is a tradition deeply loved by families and children alike, and many spend months preparing not only the floats themselves, but the costumes of the characters who will ride on top.
Three Kings Parade
Significant sections of the city are closed off for the event, and streets flood with excited children and adults who can simply not wait to welcome the Magi Kings! Do not forget to try the Rosca de Reyes while you’re there - the traditional cake of the occasion. It is a delicious brioche type cake, adorned with crystallized fruits, nuts and other yummy treats, without which the occasion simply would not be complete! You will be able to find them in pretty much every market, supermarket or bakery, so be sure to pick one up ahead of time.
Come discover another side of the beautiful city of Barcelona, and have the most incredible holiday season vacation you can get! Book your Renfe-SNCF en Coopération tickets today!