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Planning to visit Barcelona for Christmas? Here is a list of things to consider so you can be prepared and know what traditions to expect:
- Streets and areas
Even though the weather in Barcelona is pleasant for most of the year, in December it gets colder, but still the average temperature is 9,2ºC.Don´t expect sunshine every day, however on average there are only 2 rainfall days during the month. The chances of snow in Barcelona are very low, it’s a very rare thing to see snow at sea level in Barcelona.
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“Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” – “Bon Nadal i Feliç Any Nou”(Catalan) – “Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo”(Spanish)
Streets and areas:
Christmas in Barcelona is definitely a big celebration, you can sense the holiday spirit in shops, streets and boulevards decorated with Christmas lights.
Plaza de Catalunya is your first place to see for impressive displays, especially those on “El Corte Ingles” the department store. The Ramblas and Portal de l’Angel are also known for their festive lights. You will find countless festive activities on many streets in Barcelona like concerts, children’s choirs and more. There will be Christmas trees situated in different areas, however there is no general one, normally there are Christmas trees on “Plaza de la Bonanova” and “Avenida de Sant Ramon Nonato”.
A Caganer is a small statue found in Barcelona.Caganer is Catalan for “shitter”. Included in Catalonian nativity scenes, this strange object can be found in stalls throughout the region during December. Traditionally, the Caganer is a figure of a Catalan man in traditional dress going to the toilet! It is meant to be a symbol of good luck for the New Year. However, in recent years, the Catalan figure has been substituted for famous faces.
Tio de Nadal:
Quintessentially Catalan, the ‘Caga Tio’ can be found in homes all over the region. It is a small log with a face painted on one end. During each day of December, children feed it sweet treats and cover it in a red blanket to take care of it. Finally, on Christmas Eve or Day, children break into the log to enjoy the delicacies to be found inside its blanket. Sometimes, the log will then be used as fuel to warm the house, ‘repaying’ the warmth it has received there.
As Barcelona is on the Mediterranean coast, obviously the seafood dishes are important part of Christmas food. Usually the Christmas dinner starts with salmon or prawn dish, which is followed by a hot bowl of homemade soup. The main meal consists traditionally of roast lamb and seafood or “carn d’olla” which is a meat dish of stuffed capon or turkey. During the colder winter months soup is quite common dish for dinner time. The most famous one is sopa de galets which contains meat, vegetables and pasta.Dessert could be traditional “torrons,” turron is very popular during this period. The most traditional turron is nougat with almonds. Polvorones are also popular. These are sweets made from almond paste.
Some shops will be open, however, as a general rule shops are closed during public holidays. However shops have a special trading license that operates up until and including the 24th December. For Christmas day and Boxing Day all shops will be closed. If you will be staying in self catering accommodation it is therefore a good idea to purchase your groceries before the 25th December.
Are you looking for accommodation in Barcelona? I would advice you to stay in holiday apartments, which you can rent for days, weeks or months. Vacation offer you the possibility of a more relaxing, private and free stay. With more space, flexibility, comfort and a more economic price per person, this form of accommodation will allow feeling more integrated and giving you a taste of living in the city.
You can have a look at some services for tourists in Barcelona like airport transfer or hire.
As regards the metro, on Saturdays and New Year’s Eve there will be uninterrupted service throughout the night but on the 24th, Christmas Eve, trains will stop running at 11 pm.
TMB will be laying on more buses for city centre routes and those covering the main shopping districts, while the Bicing bikes will dress up for Christmas with a decorative sticker on the mudguard.
If you are planning trip to Barcelona you might be interested what events and festivals you can attend. Depending on the time you arrive, there are various activities in different districts, so before reserving your apartment its better to check our “Barcelona Events Calendar”. For example in August it is better to rent an apartment in Gracia neighborhood in order to be in the centre of “La Fiesta de Gracia “ celebrations or in December reserve an apartment next to the Barcelona Cathedral to enjoy the music and decorations for “Fira de Santa Lucia “.
Barcelona Events Calendar:
- St Anthony Procession – Each year, on January 17, ceremonies in honor of St Anthony are held in Barcelona thousands of people bring their pets to churches throughout the city to get the saint blessing. The largest blessing processions are at Sant Andreu and Eixample districts.
- 6th January – Epiphany/Three Kings
Los Reyes Magos (also known as the Three Kings) is the name by which the tradition is known to visitors (three in the more extended consideration) that, after the birth of Jesus, would come from foreign countries to pay homage and deliver rich symbolic gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh.The elaborate procession begins on January 5, at Portal de la Pau, and the progress of Los Reyes Magos is followed by throngs of people as it moves through the city.
- Carnival in Barcelona -Carnival in Barcelona, timed just before the Lenten fast, is spent indulging in soon-to-be-forbidden pleasures. Food competitions have entrants competing for the coveted “pimiento de oro” (golden pepper). The main event, an over-the-top parade, culminates with a mock funeral that buries the Carnival King for another year.
- Fiesta de San Medir(3rd March) – The sweetest holiday in Spain which comprises thousands of candy is celebrated on March 3 in Barcelona. The traditional “Fiesta of San Medir” has its origins in Roman times.The Grácia district hosts this festival to honor the patron saint of broad beans. After a colorful parade, the crowd catches candies thrown from the parade carriages and watches fireworks.
- Barcelona Marathon(6th March) – Every year in early March, all adventure-seeking runners have the opportunity to get a spectacular cruise through a beautiful city as for thirty years, this marathon has taken runners through the streets of Barcelona.
- Good Friday– is a public holiday (many companies are closed entirely during Semana Santa). Catholics are not supposed to eat meat on Fridays during Lent (some avoid meat on all Fridays and some only on Good Friday).On Good Friday, the famous processions of hooded penitents carrying crosses representing the death of Jesus take place. Cities in the south of Spain are known for large processions and people even camp out over night for good viewing spot.
- Palm Sunday(17th April) – The most important event in Spain’s Christian calendar in Barcelona, Palm Sunday (Fiesta de Ramos/Fira de Rams) a solemn procession pass its way from La Seu the cathedral in the old town to one of the parishes. In this events many Christian celebrate in the observance of this tradition. In many Christian churches, Palm Sunday is marked by the distribution of palm leaves (often tied into crosses) to the assembled worshipers.
- Saint George’s Day(23 April) – La Diada de Sant Jordi, also known as el dia de la rosa (The Day of the Rose) is a Catalan holiday held with similarities to Valentine’s Day and some unique twists that reflect the antiquity of the celebrations. The main event is the exchange of gifts between sweethearts, loved ones and respected ones. Historically, men gave women roses, and women gave men a book to celebrate the occasion—”a rose for love and a book forever.
- Corpus Christi / L’ou com Balla – Each year, Barcelona celebrates with colorful parades featuring strange carnival creatures and a “dancing egg festival” (L’ou com Balla) where decorated eggs “dance” in the water jets from the city’s fountains. The fountains themselves are decorated beautifully for the occasion, with fragrant flowers in rich reds and pretty pinks. Also look out for the parades of giants and big-headed carnival figures (known as cabezudos) that converge around the cathedral area in the centre of the city.
- European Balloon Festival – This annual event is the largest hot air balloon festival in Spain and attracts pilots from around the globe. Almost a quarter million spectators come to see the Barcelona sky fill with colorful balloons. This event is composed by the beauty of this sport and competition. In the morning, visitors delight of a show that gives more than 50 balloons, watching the activities and exhibits that make the equipment. In the afternoon is when weather conditions are the best, you can watch a magical sky full of colored bubbles that dot the horizon!
- Tall Ships Race – Between 70 and 100 ships from around the world race up the coast to Barcelona. Watch the ships sail, sample traditional Catalan cuisine and enjoy the sunshine.
- La Fiesta de Gracia – is a week of celebrations amazing concerts, shows, parades and a wonderful finale with fireworks. It is the “Carnaval” de Gracia which attracts thousands of people: neighborhood residents, tourists, foreigners and people from other cities.
- Feast of the Assumption – They celebrate the faithful recording of the birth of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The Solemnity of the Catholic and Orthodox churches is one of the oldest festivals which goes back to the 7th Century. At the feast, which is held annually on 15 August, herb bushes are brought to the services.The neighborhood of Gràcia spills into the streets for this annual celebration.
- Festa Mayor de Sants – The Sants Festa Major takes place on and around the Carrer de Sants street in Barelona’s Montjuïc district. Twelve main streets host their own parties and activities. When night falls, everyone celebrates with music, parades and a ‘dance of the giants’.
- National Day of Catalonia – On the 11th of September, and since 1980, the Catalans celebrate their National Day. This is a moment for all the inhabitants to celebrate with parades, concerts, and demonstrations. If you are in a Barcelona Apartment during this week end, you will be able to enjoy the shows taking place in the whole city: the balconies will be decorated and you will see the Catalan flag floating everywhere.
- Festes de la Mercè – celebrates the day of the city’s patron saint … the Virgin de la Merce. There are many events from 22nd leading up to 24th which is a public holiday. Events include the parade of the giants when a processions through the streets is made up of giant wooden figures (gegants) operated by people.There are also sports events, musical performances, fantastic firework displays and plenty drinking as is the case at just about all festivals nationwide.
- Catalan Wine and Cava Show – At the Wine and Cava Show, vintners from Catalonia present their cavas and wines from this region. Spectators can for example taste wine like Alt Penedés rosés and red wines from the Priorat area. The event is held around Moll de Bosch i Alsina area.
- Barcelona International Jazz Festival – The Barcelona International Jazz Festival is of Europe’s premier jazz events with world class performers playing 70 concerts in 2010. The Barcelona jazz festival takes place in fifteen different venues in Barcelona, including L’Auditori , Sala Bikini , Jamboree, the Palau de la Música and the Harlem Jazz Club . Furthermore, the parallel music cycle “Finestra”, the festival offers a series of shows that outside from the jazz genre.
- All Sant´s day-On this day the people of Barcelona celebrate All Saints’s Day, a special day when the Spanish are remembering their dead. They go to the cemetery, they prepare special meals (the tradition is to eat roasted chestnuts -in spanish castanyes), sweet potatoes and sweets with almonds. You can find this type of food on the street, sold by vendors. It’s kind of a public holiday.
- Fira de Santa Lucia – A Barcelona tradition since 1786, this Christmas fair brings hundreds of stalls to the grounds of the beautiful Barcelona Cathedral. Here you can buy traditional Catalan nativity scenes, baking and even Christmas trees. If you don’t want to shop, you can always enjoy the music and decorated scenery.
- La Cursa dels Nassos in Barcelona – 10km race through out Barcelona streets on December 31. For thousands of people that will be an amazing way of saying goodbye to the old year.he race will start at Selva de Mar Street and will have two starting times; the first one at 5:31pm and the second one at 5:33pm. The duration of the race is about an hour and a half, so it will be closed at 7pm.
One of the best ways to get to know Barcelona and experience it to the fullest is to take the bus tour. You can hop on and hop off the bus at any place, choose any destination and change the route as often as you wish. Sights covered by the tour are all the main attractions in Barcelona including: Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, Gothic Quarter Olympic Village, Poble Espanyol and are accompanied by the audio guide that includes 10 languages. You can buy the ticket for the tour either for one or two days, the price for one day ticket for adult is €22,00 and it is valid for 24hours.
If you are looking for a tour on two wheels there are some options for you! You can rent a bicycle or make a bike tour. The length of the tours vary, but they are all conducted in English. The bike tour is 3 hours long and you will ride 125cc automatic scooters. The tour takes start at Barceloneta area where an English-speaking guide will lead you through every district of Barcelona.
One of the most enjoyable ways the see the city is taking a walking tour around the Barcelona centre. Wide open boulevards, beautiful sights and historic quarters make walking tours a very pleasure way to visit the city. You can discover the city’s history as stroll through the squares and streets of the Gothic Quarter, one of the best preserved medieval districts in the Barcelona, enjoy a flavour-filled journey and discover the history of Barcelona’s cuisine, admire the Catalan art-nouveau buildings by architects such as Gaudí, Domènech & Montaner and Puig & Cadafalch. Follow in the footsteps of Picasso and the 19th and 20th century Bohemiam movement.
Learn about special offers, discounts and alternative services so you will enjoy the city as you deserve.ComeToBarcelona offers additional services such as bike tours, booking taxis, tickets purchase and many more activities. See here special offers and discover a different Barcelona.
New Year Eve in Barcelona
If you want to have an unforgettable New Year, La Cursa dels Nassos in Barcelona is a great chance for you to visit the city and have an interesting experience, participating in a 10km race through out Barcelona streets on December 31. For thousands of people that will be an amazing way of saying goodbye to the old year!
The first “La Cursa dels Nassos” was held in 1999 and since then, the number of participants has been increasing every year reaching 9,000 runners on December 2009. The race picks up the inheritance of the first Saint Sylvester Race on history, held in Sao Paulo in 1924.
The race will start at Selva de Mar Street and will have two starting times; the first one at 5:31pm and the second one at 5:33pm. The duration of the race is about an hour and a half, so it will be closed at 7pm.
Ten minutes after it starts, the participants will be running when would be dark outside, but fortunately the streets in Barcelona are well lighted so it will not be a problem for them to run at night.
All the participants must have a timing chip. For those who may not have their own, a single use chip will be available for 3€. It is mandatory for all runners to have a race number that is clearly visible and attached to the shirt.
The runners bag, with all the items can be picked up at: Complex Esportiu Municipal Mar Bella: Ave. del Litoral del Mar 86-96 from 29th -31 of December until 3pm.
The internet registration will be opened until midnight of December 26 and from December 9 until 21 the registration can be done at: Agrupació Atlética Catalunya, located at: The Estadi Municipal d’Atletisme Joan Serrahima (Joan Serrahima Municipal Stadium), Carrer del Polvorí, 5-7 (Montjuïc).
Barcelona is one of the best destinations for tourists; there is so much to see that you will find yourself returning again and again. For your New Year´s vacation in Barcelona you might need to rent short term apartments on the Ramblas, next to Sagrada Familia or you may prefer beautiful views to the beach, so renting beach apartments will be the best option for you. In case you are coming with friends don´t forget to check special apartments for groups.