The Best Events to Enjoy a Magical Christmas in Barcelona
It's the most wonderful time of the year once again!
The days are getting shorter and the temperatures are dropping. With a real nostalgia of last summer and against your will, you’re re-organising your wardrobe for the coming winter. A bit sad, you’re trying to cheer yourself up by thinking “how could life get a bit more exciting now?”. And suddenly you remember that the most cheerful event of the year is arriving: Christmas! Have you ever thought about celebrating Christmas in Barcelona?
Like in the rest of the country, the period of Christmas in Barcelona isn’t only limited to a few days or a week. It starts from the St Nicholas’s day on the 6th of December until the moment the Nativity scene is removed on the 2nd of February. Various celebrations – both religious and pagan – occur during this time.
Like many other places in the world, it is an occasion for families and friends to gather. Although customs vary from one family to another, some elements remain a tradition for almost everyone and you can join in too!
From Christmas markets and live nativity scenes to Midnight Mass in Sagrada Familia, learn how to make the most of Christmas in Barcelona with this handy guide.
Let There Be Street Light
The first proper sign indicating that Christmas in Barcelona has started is when the streets lights are turned on. Starting on the 22nd of November, they'll stay on until the 6th of January, the day of the Three Wise Kings in Spain.
The district of Sant Martí is the first to be lit up at 7pm. Lights will be on until 11pm, except on Fridays and Saturday, where they stay on until 12am. There will be another exception for the 24th, 25th and 31st of December and the 6th of January, when the lights will remain on until 1am.
For Passeig de Gràcia, you’ll have to be a bit more patient. The new LED lights that will flood the magnificent avenue will be switched on on the 28th of November. From the top of the emblematic street in Jardines de Gràcia to the bottom in Plaça Catalunya, vertical strips and around 150 bright butterflies will decorate it.
Shopping Night on Paseo de Gracia
Two elements make the Shopping Night Barcelona different this year: the name and the date. Indeed, the event entitled La Nit del Passeig de Gràcia (Night of Passeig de Gràcia), will occur on the 19th of December instead of November.
A special ambiance created with thousands of LED lights and music will accompany you on this shopping spree. On top of that be ready for more surprises with five spots spread between Carrer de Casp to the Jardinets de Gràcia.
Not only will shops stay open until midnight with discounts and surprises but you’ll also find concerts and recreational activities.
You’ll definitely need to recharge your batteries after this and thankfully, several hotels and restaurants will propose a gastronomic route from the 19th to 22nd of December serving special dishes and offers. For Christmas dishes, you’ll have to head to Palau Robert and for more casual dishes, food trucks will settle on Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes and Carrer de Casp.
Special Christmas Events in Barcelona
Various landmarks around Barcelona also get into the Christmas spirit. For this occasion, they’ll be presenting special events that will get you in the festive mood too.
Music and Light Show at the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc
The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc has prepared a special light and sound show accompanied by Christmas melodies.
These choreographies will operate in the ordinary way of the fountain. However, there will be unique shows for the New Year’s eve and on January 5th for the Three Kings Parade.
During this period, the show takes place every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 8pm to 9pm.
Show Time in Plaça Catalunya
The central spot of Barcelona becomes even more lively than it usually is. A magic forest filled with huge inflatable rabbits with lights will make the show this year. Light shows in the fountains illuminate the square and turn it into a festive world all of its own.
Many activities for people of all ages will take place. From the 20th to 31st of December, Plaça Catalunya will turn into a stage for live performances for you to enjoy the magic of Christmas in Barcelona and discover the talent of local acting companies. In the form of magical characters, they’ll present stories, fables and poems and a small orchestra will join them to play Christmas carols from around the world.
Christmas at the Hospital de Sant Pau
The wonderful art nouveau building will welcome winter with another light and music show. Its already colourful façade will be used as a temporary canvas for fascinating mapping.
The first projection of La Llum de Sant Pau ( Sant Pau’s light in Catalan) will be on the 22nd of December to mark the winter solstice. The show will go on every night from 6pm to 10:30pm with a repetition every 30 minutes until the 26th of December. It’ll start again from the 29th of December to the 1st of January and again on the 5th and 6th of January.
In addition, the old hospital includes some novelties in its programme of activities. For example, the Christmas concert on the 22nd of December, the children’s show “El Trencanous” on the 23rd and the family visit.
Poble Espanyol Welcomes Christmas
Poble Espanyol will welcome Christmas in advance from the 6th to 8th of December with activities for the whole family from 10am to 8pm.
The Christmas gastronomy fair will delight adults with local products, wine tastings, craft beers and vermouth in Plaça Major. A myriad of activities around the site will entertain the young ones. They’ll discover the Tió de Nadal, watch Christmas films, walk around a live nativity scene and take pictures in a giant snowball. Performing arts will be present too with live music. There’ll also be shows like Euphoria, which combines drama, dance, acrobatics. Don’t forget your roller blades if you want to enjoy the roller disco!
– 2 adults + 1 child ticket for €19.50 (advance online: €16.50)
– 1 adult + 1 child: €13 ticket (advance online €11)
The Nutcracker at Basilica Santa María del Pi
On the 3rd of January the Basilica Santa María del Pi will be the scene of another Candlelight Christmas special. Tchaikovsky's distinguishing piece 'The Nutcracker' will enchant the audience for an hour in the intimate atmosphere of the candlelight. The concert will start at 8:30pm.
You can your ticket for this event here.
It seems obvious that the most emblematic landmark of Barcelona would organise something magic for Christmas. And you're right to think that. There are three key events to plan your visit around:
On the 30th of November at 5pm, the Basilica hosts its traditional concert celebrating the Christmas season. This year, the concert involves the National Classical Orchestra of Andorra (ONCA) and the Cor de Cambra of the Palau de la Música Catalana. Both are led by conductor Xavier Puig with violinist Gerard Claret. The groups will perform traditional Catalan Christmas carols and Johann Sebastian Bach’s 'Christ lag in Todesbanden' and Arvo Pärt’s 'Te Deum'.
From the 19th to the 22nd of December, the Nativity Façade of the basilica will get some new colours with a musical narration of the birth of Jesus and the symbolism behind each of the scenes in the Gospels.
There will be three sessions of around fifteen minutes at 7pm, 7:30pm and 8pm on the first three days of the event and on the 21st of December, there will only be one session at 7pm. The event is free and the capacity is limited, however you will be able to enjoy it from the street. After each session, you will be able to enjoy some hot chocolate.
On Christmas Eve, you have the amazing opportunity to attend a Midnight Mass inside the iconic Sagrada Familia, celebrating the birth of Jesus. The ceremony will start at 7pm. After the Eucharist the ceremony will carry on with the adoration of the baby Jesus, both inside the Basilica and outside, where people gather outside opposite the Nativity façade.
The entrance is free of charge but capacity is limited. Due to great popularity we recommend you to be there in advance.
The Nativity scene is one of the most common traditions you can find during Christmas. In Barcelona and Catalonia it is no different as it is a tradition going back a long time. Called a pessebre in Catalan, its first evidence in the region dates back to the 14th century. It is thought that it was due to the influence of the Franciscans. By the late 16th century, the family nativity scene existed and by 1786 the Fira de Santa Llúcia – a Christmas market still active nowadays – would sell everything to make one.
Two of the main Nativity scenes are in Plaça Sant Jaume and in the patio of Frederic Marès museum. You can find others all around the city (see map at the bottom of the page for locations).
Plaça Sant Jaume: 29/11/2019 – 06/01/2020 – open every day from 10am to 10pm.
Mercat de Santa Caterina: 30/11/2019 – 11/01/2020 – Mon, Wed, Sat from 7:30am to 3:30pm and Tues, Thurs, Fri from 7:30am to 8:30pm.
Creu Coberta: 14/12/2019 – 05/01/2020 – every day from 11am to 2pm and 5pm to 8:30pm.
Old Town: every day from 8:30am 2:30pm except Thursday until 6:30pm (closed on 24 and 31/12 and 01/01).
Mercat de la Concepció: 25/11/2019 to 11/01/2020 – Tues-Fri – 8am to 8pm / Mon and Sat – 8am to 3pm.
Espai Albert Musons: 09/12/2019 to 02/02/2020 – Mon-Thurs – 5pm to 9pm / Fri – 10am to 1pm (except Bank Holidays).
Casa dels Entremesos: 28/11/2019 to 02/02/2020 – Tues-Sat – 10am to 1pm and 4pm to 7pm / Sunday and Bank Holidays – 11am to 2pm.
Live Nativity Scenes
The pessebre vivent, or live nativity scene, is one of the latest incorporations to the tradition of nativity scenes with figures. The first occurrence in Catalonia was in 1959 in Castell d’Aro and in 1993 in Barcelona.
Like in a more traditional one it represents the Christ’s birth but through different scenes. For example, it could take place in the old quarter of a village, a riverbed, the surroundings of a property, or a forest. Every locality has its ways to present the scene. Some prefer a more biblical staging when others give more importance to ancient professions or buildings of the towns. In some cases, performers have a script and sometimes they don’t.
In Barcelona you can find three of them: in Casal de Barri Pirineu in the Can Baró district, Jardí dels Drets Humans in Sants-Montjuïc and in Centre Ocupacional Taller Escola Sant Camil (see map at the bottom of the page for locations).
Live Nativity of La Marina – 14/12 – 6pm to 8:30pm.
In Espai Via Barcino – Centre Cívic Trinitat Vella – 20/12 – 6pm to 7pm.
Els Pastorets (little shepherds in Catalan) are a typical performing art deeply rooted in Catalan folklore. They originate from medieval times and are part of the Christmas Eve service. The plays represent the birth of Christ and are usually staged by amateur actors from civic and cultural centres, theatres and parishes. The difference between pastorets and the Nativity scene is that the shepherds are the main focus.
The plot is built around three stories. The first one is about the betrothal of Joseph and Mary, showing them looking for a place to stay and including the birth of baby Jesus. The second one focuses on the battle between the angels and demons. The last one recreates the adventures of the shepherds in a humorous way.
Lluïsos d’Horta – Saturday 21/12, 6pm and Sunday 22/12, 12pm and 6pm (8€ children / 10€ adults).
Teatre de Sarrià – 22 and 29/12, and 4, 11 and 12/01, 5:30pm (10€ / 15€).
Orfeó Martinenc – 22/12 6pm and 29/12, 11:30pm and 6pm (5€ / 8€).
Jove Calassanç Teatre
Sala Poblenou – Centre Moral i Cultural
Centre Moral i Instructiu de Gràcia – 14, 15, 21, 22, 23, 26 to 30/12, and 2, 3 and 4/01/20. At 6pm, except 26/12 is at 7:30pm.
Centre Sant Pere Apòstol – 21, 22, 28, 29/12 at 6pm (5€ / 10€).
Casal de Barri Font d’en Fargues – 5, 21, 22 and 28/12. Every day at 6pm, except 21/12 at 5.00pm (6€).
Teatre Tantarantana – 14, 15, 21, 23, 27, 28, 29, 30/12 and 2, 3, 4 and 5/01/20 at 6pm and Sundays at 12pm (9€).
La Casa dels Entremesos – 21/12 at 11:30pm (4€).
A Christmas without Christmas songs isn’t a successful one and it goes without saying that Catalonia, like many other Christian countries in the world, also has an extensive repertoire of Christmas carols as part of the local folklore. Some of the oldest documented melodies date back to the 15th century. Their origin might come from the performances that shepherds would do before the doors to churches during Christmas night.
Attendees will also enjoy shows and activities related to Christmas customs such as a giant Tió de Nadal, musical performances and the parade of the traditional Carassa de Nadal (Christmas Big Face), a representation of a Saracen with a long beard that spits sweets from his mouth for the children.
When you think of Christmas markets, many people tend to think of traditional Bavarian markets with mulled wine and sausages or snow covered Czech markets with women in fur hats. Whilst its unlikely you'll be seeing snow or needing your fur hat in Barcelona, there is a long history (233 years to be exact) of Christmas markets here too. Some of the best ones are below:
Fira de Santa Llúcia
Christmas Markets in Barcelona all started here, when a one day market was held in the square outside the old cathedral in 1786 to celebrate the feast day of Saint Llúcia. Today the fair is the biggest in Barcelona and is open from the 29th of November until the 23rd of December. You can attend from 11am to 8:30pm, apart from on public holidays and the evenings before public holidays when it is open from 10am to 9:30pm.
Some of the same things that were sold over 200 years ago can still be bought there, such as figures and landscapes to make your own nativity scene. Plenty of handmade items can also be bought, including jewlerry, hats, bags, art, woodcraft items and, of course, christmas decorations.
Fira de Sant Tomàs
Also known as Fira dels Reis (Fair of the Three Kings) the star products at this market are craft toys and gifts like jewelry, decoration, clothing and ceramic items. Stretching along Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes between Muntaner and Calàbria streets, it lasts from the 21st of December to the 5th of January. The market opens from 10am to 9pm, except for Saturdays and the evenings before festive days, when it closes at 10pm.
Going there is also an excuse for stuffing yourself with all sorts of sweets and churros with chocolate. Don’t be ashamed, there’s no age limit for that.
Christmas Market at Sagrada Familia
The Fira de Nadal is held in Plaça de la Sagrada Família in front of the basilica from the 23rd of November to the 23rd of December (Mon-Fri & Bank Holidays: 10am to 9pm / Sat-Sun: 10am to 10pm).
The numerous stalls are divided into four sectors: Christmas trees and plants; nativity scenes, traditional figures and Christmas decorations. Some stalls sell food and others sell gifts like craft products, jewellery and clothes.
A New Christmas Market by the Sea
For the first edition of this Christmas market in Port Vell, the city of Barcelona has gone big and decided to roll out the red carpet for the attendees. This is also the occasion to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Port of Barcelona.
Open from the 5th of December to the 5th of January in the Plaza del Portal de la Paz, near the Columbus monument, the fair will cover an area of 5,000 m2. LED lights, wooden stalls and garlands will guarantee the jolly atmosphere of Christmas of traditional markets. You’ll be able to find decorations for your home, crafts and gifts to offer for the occasion and a carousel for entertaining your little ones.
A Christmas without any food isn’t complete, right? This detail is sorted, don’t worry. The gastronomic area will provide delicacies for the foodies. On top of that, a stage will be set up with a complete entertainment programme.
The icing on the cake will be the light and music show projected on the façade of the Port of Barcelona’s headquarter. While you’re there, try to spot the crib floating in the harbour when strolling around the Rambla de Mar.
Responsible Consumption and Social and Solidarity Economy Fair
Once again this year, one of the priorities is also to promote responsible consumption at a social and solidarity economy fair. The fair aims at showing how responsible and sustainable consumption is possible all year round and that the local, social and solidarity economy already exists in every district in Barcelona. As in previous editions, the organisations taking part in the fair schedule activities to expose their hard work to reach a social and cooperative return for the city.
It will run from the 20th to the 31st of December and will be open from 11am to 8:30pm every day apart from the 25th and 26th of December.
This map pins all the main spots where the magic of Christmas in Barcelona occurs.
Where to Stay
With all the stress of organising your perfect Christmas in Barcelona, why not book your accomodation now to get it out of the way? Here at ChicRoom Barcelona we have a wide range of luxury apartments located in the centre of the city. Celebrate the most wonderful time of the year in complete comfort in a beautiful apartment, full of character, where you will feel at home immediately! Browse our selection and book the perfect Christmas apartment in Barcelona today!
Catalunya Palace on ChicRoom Barcelona