Barcelona is bubbling with revellers at Christmastime. The city offers a variety of things to do, in the form of concerts, art exhibitions, dressed-up buildings, sporting events, markets, and of course the parties. And remember that the winter holidays in Barcelona go on until Kings' Day on January 6, so here are some suggestions to keep you entertained and having fun through Christmas and into the New Year.
One of Antoni Gaudí's modernist jewels, Casa Batlló, on Passeig de Gràcia, is once again decorating its façade for a good cause, after it was covered with roses for Sant Jordi on April 23 of this year. It's Christmastime, so what better way to bring the Christmas spirit to Barcelona than with snow covering the Casa Batlló? If you go inside you'll see more snow thanks to special effects designed to look like falling snowflakes. The Patio Modernista will also feature a holiday scene, complete with a big Christmas tree. A percentage of the tickets sold from December 19 to January 9, the dates when you can catch a snowy Casa Batlló, will be donated to children's charity Fundación Aldeas Infantiles for the development of one of their projects.
From December 17 to January 4, Plaça Catalunya becomes 'a space to dream'. Christmas-related activities are presided over by a mechanical dancer who comes out of her box to signify the start of the activities and returns at night when the day's events come to a close. The programme is divided into different areas, such as the second edition of the Responsible Consumer Fair. You'll also find 'The people's platform' – a stage for small-format shows, talks, workshops and presentations; illuminated dream catchers that invite everyone to write their dreams down and hang them up; a big Christmas snowball where you can see what it's like to be inside one; 'The house of dreams', an old wooden house hidden inside a mystery that only those who figure out how to enter can get in. At sundown, the twin fountains in the square light up and dance to the sound of music, with a show created for the occasion. The final days of activities in Plaça Catalunya (Jan 2 to 4) are for the little ones to look for the royal pages, who will help them get their letters to the Three Kings in time for Kings' Day on January 6.
Every year, Barcelona city council pays tribute to the tradition in many Catalan homes of setting up a nativity scene ('pessebre' in Catalan), by constructing a large-scale one in the central square of Sant Jaume. The production of the crib changes hands from year to year, with both traditional and contemporary styles having been employed in recent editions, but always with the familiar characters of the Holy Family, shepherds, Three Kings and angels. This year's scene is based on Catalan J.V. Foix's poem 'Ho sap tothom, i és profecia' (which translates roughly to 'Everyone knows it, and it is prophecy'), where the poet cites various everyday Christmas scenes, and for this occasion they are carried out by Olot artists Quim Domene and Toti Toronell, with an emphasis on the universe and figures in Catalan Christmas popular culture.
For the Christmas season the Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site has prepared a mapping with lights and shapes that create a symphony of lights commemorating the winter solstice, when the days start getting longer, the sun is out longer than the moon, and nature is reborn. The images projected onto the building are an homage to modernista architecture, and especially to the work of Domènech i Montaner, full of organic and plant motifs, and accompanied by original musical compositions. Each projection lasts eight minutes, and starts on the half hour and on the hour between 6.30pm and 10.30pm.
It's time once more to bid farewell to the old and welcome the new, and where better to do that than in Barcelona, a place that perfectly combines a love for the past and the future. The biggest party of the night will take place in Avinguda Reina Maria Cristina, just next to Plaça Espanya, with an enormous firework and musical extravaganza focused on the fountains of Montjuïc as 2016 comes to an end and 2017 gets going. Local tradition dictates that as the bells strike midnight, 12 grapes need to be eaten before the last dong is heard, to ensure good luck for the year to come. If you're looking to keep the festivities going, clubs such as Apolo and Razzmatazz host special events, while back on Montjuïc, Poble Espanyol is the destination of choice for many young people.