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.
The Palau de la Música Catalana hosts this always-awaited participatory concert, where dozens and dozens of singers will perform Händel's 'Messiah', one of the composer's most popular works and a quintessential Christmastime piece. This time singers will be accompanied by the UK's Gabrieli Consort & Players, directed by Paul McCreesh.
Dec 18 & 19
For their Christmas concert this year, La Pedrera invites Barcelona group The Gramophone Allstars Big Band to perform. Following their acclaimed project 'Jazzmaica' in 2014, when they put on 60 concerts all around Spain and even released an album in Japan, now they widen their rhythmic range with an eye on other Caribbean islands. Genís Bou fronts this project that brings together some of the top new jazz musicians around as well as vocals from Judit Neddermann, Kathy Sey and Yolanda Sey.
The days leading up to Christmas wouldn't be the same in Barcelona without the concert featuring waltzes and dances that the Vallés Symphony Orchestra puts on during their symphony concert series at the Palau de la Música Catalana. Conducted by the Orchestra's own James Ross, they'll perform works by both Johann Strauss I and II, Mussorgsky, Bizet, Ginastera, Anderson and Gounod, among others. Anabel Pérez Real takes the soprano solo.
If you're travelling, far from home, or just don't feel like cooking, Bear on Bike are here to save the holiday season for you with their special meals at Espai EGG. You'll enjoy a feast of delcious seasonal and organic dishes with all the trimmings accompanied by local, biodynamic wines served in cosy, family-style surroundings. Your Christmas Eve or Christmas Day menu features canapes, starters, family-style sharing plates (the main dish is an organic marinated rib roast with gravy), dessert, and cava, along with wines, water and soft drinks. For New Year's Eve you get canapes, a starter, an entreé, a main (lamb cutlets), dessert, cava and grapes (12 at midnight for good luck in the coming year!), as well as wines, water and soft drinks. If you're vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free or have other special dietary needs, get in touch so you can be accommodated as well. Reservations are required.
Dec 24, Dec 25, Dec 31
This long-established Christmas fair takes over the square in front of Barcelona’s cathedral for the weeks leading up to the big day, with stalls selling seasonal accessories including mistletoe, tree decorations and small gifts. However, if you want to experience the fair as a local, grab the chance to buy some nativity figures, whether a 'caganer' (a Catalan peasant – or a celebrity, from Rafa Nadal to Donald Trump – who defecates in the corner of the stable) or a character who actually appeared in the original story.
Until Dec 23
The Christmas Fair at the Sagrada Família has been around since the 1960s and has become one of the most traditional Christmas markets in the Eixample, with about 100 stalls selling gifts and decorations. Not to mention that it adds to the whole seasonal feel by creating a picture-perfect Christmas card around the Sagrada Família itself.
Until Dec 23
The Barcelona Cathedral, which houses the oldest version (15th century) of the Song of Sibyl in the Iberian Peninsula, invites the Francesc Valls Chamber Choir to carry on the tradition of recovering the heritage of the city's cathedral. As has become tradition, each year the Choir entrusts a contemporary author with a modern version of the Song of Sibyl, and this year the job goes to young Catalan composer and new president of Joventuts Musicals de Catalunya, Joan Magrané. Sibyl is a female character in ancient dress with rich cloths who, sword in hand, announces the Apocalyps. The Choir will perform at 11.30pm, as tradition dictates for this sacred drama that was performed at the Cathedral in 2013 for the first time since 1575.
One of the most anticipated events on the Barcelona Christmas calendar is this annual concert for Saint Stephen's Day (Dec 26), which brings together all the choirs that make up the family of the Orfeó Català and is enjoyed by the audience at the Palau de la Música Catalana as well as on the radio and TV. This year, in addition to the Orfeó Català choirs, a brass quintet will also perform, and Dani Coma is the stage director.
What was known as the Festival de la Infància for years and years has changed its name and philosophy. Now called The City of Dreams ('La ciutat dels somnis'), this big annual party has kept its playful personality, but it's now a bit updated to be more educational, focusing on future vocations for kids. The question 'What do you want to be when you grow up?' takes on new dimensions. The new festival features a re-creation of a big city with a hospital, a mechanic's shop, a town hall and a sport facility. Kids from age 4 to age 12 can learn about grown-up jobs via some 100 activities where they play at being chefs, mechanics, computer technicians, actors, doctors, illustrators, journalists and even 3D experts. In total, you and your kids will find 60 professions from 12 different sectors, and special care has been taken to break with gender stereotypes associated with the jobs.