This year, Barcelona will experience the Christmas holidays with a certain degree of normality after last year’s restrictions due to the pandemic forced the city to modify the traditional acts that take place during this time.
If you come to Barcelona during the Christmas holidays, you’ll be able to experience and discover the typical Catalan traditions and walk under Christmas lights that turn the streets of Barcelona into an almost magical environment. In addition, you can enjoy the Christmas spirit thanks to the route that the Barcelona Christmas Tour has prepared.
Special lighting on city streets
The lighting of the Christmas lights kicks off the Christmas festivities in Barcelona. This year, three emblematic spots renew their lighting. In Plaça de Catalunya, a heartbeat of lights invites you to go for a stroll; on the Gran Vía de les Corts Catalanes, large lamps will enchant you; and in Aragó Street a sea of stars awaits you.
In addition, there are other streets that have also put up Christmas lights. This is the case of the Ronda de Sant Pere, between Plaça de Catalunya and Passeig de Sant Joan. If this is an area that you still don’t know, this is a good time to go see it and discover new areas of the city under the Christmas lights.
Another show of light and colour is that of the Sant Pau Modernist Site, “Els llums de Sant Pau”. A fantastic tour has been prepared through some of its spaces. With the Barcelona Christmas Tour ticket you’ll enjoy a 10% discount to experience this magical tour that’s sure to leave everyone speechless. Torroncs Vicens algo give you a present on board.
Go around the city with the Barcelona Christmas Tour
The Barcelona Christmas Tour bus starts up again so you can enjoy the city in a special way. Travel through the main streets and avenues (Passeig de Gràcia, Sagrada Familia, Arc de Triomf…) and feel the Christmas lights up close from the open top deck. The tour guides will explain Christmas traditions to you in Catalan, Spanish and English. Check the Hola Barcelona website for the departure point and timetables and buy your tickets with a 10% discount.
And if you want to enjoy the Christmas lights from another point of view, you cannot miss the experience of climbing aboard the Montjuïc Cable Car!
Two typical Catalan Christmas elements
Two of the most characteristic Christmas traditions in Catalonia are the figure of the ‘caganer’ and the Christmas log or ‘tió’.
The 'caganer' is a figure (generally a shepherd) that is placed in a corner of the nativity scene. Neither its origin nor its meaning are well known. It’s said that it was first introduced in the late 17th or early 18th century. Its success is such that, every year, the makers of ‘caganers’ design figures with the faces of current celebrities.
The ‘tió’ or Christmas log is one of the most anticipated traditions by the youngest members of each household. On the afternoon of December 24, boys and girls make this log ‘poop’ out gifts by hitting it with a stick. The most magical moment comes when children lift the blanket that covers it and discover the presents that it has expelled.
To discover what the 'caganer' and 'tió' are like, we recommend that you visit one of the Christmas fairs that are set up in the city these days.
The Christmas fairs come to Barcelona
The Fira de Santa Llúcia is the most popular in the city and can be enjoyed until December 18 on Avinguda de la Catedral. 170 stalls are set up in one of the oldest Christmas fairs: this year it celebrates its 235th edition! Here you can find everything that is used for Christmas decoration, both for the nativity scene and for the tree.
It’s already a tradition for many families to buy a Christmas souvenir at this fair and take a look at the 'caganers' of the season, which are usually quite funny.
Until December 18, a giant ‘tió’ is installed in front of the Cathedral so that children under 12 years of age can make it ‘poop’.
Other typical fairs in the city are that of the Sagrada Familia, that of Poble Espanyol and that of the three kings on Gran Vía.
Along the streets of Ferran and Jaume I you can also see a nativity scene — this year, a Christmas landscape designed by the architect Jordi Darder.
The Three Kings parade is back
The magical end of the Christmas festivities in Barcelona comes with the arrival of Their Majesties the Kings of the Orient. They arrive at the Port with the Santa Eulàlia pailebot on the afternoon of January 5, at which time the mayor presents them with the keys to the city so they can deliver gifts during the night, while everyone sleeps.
This year, a parade has been organised again, in which the floats will move through the city so that the citizens of Barcelona can welcome them with open arms (we recommend that you visit the Christmas website of the City Council to find out the route so you can join the celebration).
Before they arrive, you can visit the Factory of the Kings of the Orient in the Fabra i Coats grounds. Their assistants will show you how the gifts that children have asked for are made and prepared, and where the royal pages await them at the post office where they can leave their letters.