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Christmas and New Year in Barcelona

Tradition, concerts, family fun, markets... everything you need to enjoy Christmas and New Year in Barcelona

By Time Out Barcelona Editors, Erica Aspas and Jan Fleischer
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If you're spending the Christmas and New Year season in Barcelona, you'll be thrilled to know the city cooks up plenty of things to do from the beginning of December until Kings' Day on January 6. You'll find seasonal concerts, art exhibitions, dressed-up buildings, sporting events, markets, and of course, parties. We've rounded up a heap of recommendations to keep you entertained and having fun through Christmas and into the New Year.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Barcelona

Things to Do at Christmas in Barcelona

Nadal al Poble Espanyol
© A. Creus

Christmas at Poble Espanyol

Things to do Markets and fairs

Poble Espanyol is once again transformed into a sort of Christmas theme park for kids of all ages. Kids can visit Santa Claus's house and personally hand him their wish list, and they can do the same with the Three Kings before Kings' Day on January 6. You can stroll through the Enchanged Christmas Forest and the Tió Forest (Log Forest where you'll find the traditional Catalan 'pooping log' in a giant size), hang your wishes from the Wishing Tree, and the little ones getting ready to let go of their dummies can hang them from the special dummy tree and feel like big kids.

Until Dec 29

Santa Llúcia Christmas market

Things to do Markets and fairs

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. Plus, this year you can see the oversize manger scene presented by the Santa Llúcia at the nearby Frederic Marès Museum.

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Pessebre de plaça Sant Jaume 2019
Photo: Marc Andreu

Nativity Scene at Plaça Sant Jaume

Things to do

The nativity scene is a Christmas classic, but the one in Barcelona's Plaça Sant Jaume isn't necessarily classically traditional, but it's known for raising eyebrows and causing a lot of differing opinions due to its often transgressive nature. From November 20 to January 6 in the centre of the square where you'll also find City Hall, this year's scene depicts various and sometimes provocative representations of the birth of Jesus. Stop by at night when it's lit up for a special treat.

Copa Nadal de Natació
© Ricard Cugat

110th Christmas Cup for Swimming

Things to do

At Christmas, the cold is no excuse not to get in some outdoor exercise. In fact, Christmas in Barcelona is a good time to get in shape. How, you ask? Swimming, of course. Every year on Christmas Day you'll find a swimming competition organised by the Club Natació (Swimming Club), which involves swimming 200 metres in open water at the Barcelona Port, starting at Portal de la Pau near the Columbus monument. It can't be too bad out there, this event has been going on for over a century!

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Mapping: The light of Sant Pau

Things to do

The Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site celebrates another Christmas with their always-anticipated projection mapping. This year the light show aims to build a bridge between the sky and the earth, giving us a moment to celebrate that the days are starting to get longer again, and nature starts its cycle of rebirth. It's a symphony that pays tribute to the Mondernista building and its architect, Lluís Domènech i Montaner. The show is free to see, and it's on from December 21 to January 6, from 6pm to 10pm. It starts every half hour and lasts 10 minutes.

New Year's Eve race: Cursa dels nassos

Things to do

This traditional last sporting event of the year is dedicated to a legend of folklore, the man with many noses ('l'home dels nassos'). Today runners say goodbye to the year with a 10K that starts at Selva de Mar, and heads to the seafront to Pla de Palau, finishing up again at Selva de Mar. The route is full of fun stuff along the way, like a fire show, a tunnel with lasers and LED lights, and many more surprises.

Dec 31

Looking for Festive Christmas Markets?

Botiga Käthe Wohlfahrt
Photo: Käthe Wohlfahrt

Best Christmas and New Year markets in Barcelona

Shopping

The Christmas season in Barcelona runs all the way until January 6 to include Kings' Day, so you'll find markets that run from early December for a whole month. Our favourite Christmas markets in Barcelona offer decorations and local traditional fare to second-hand bargains, fashion, artwork and more for every taste and budget. Grab your shopping bag, appetite and holiday spirit, and enjoy all the markets and fairs have to offer.

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