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What to see and do in Barcelona at Christmas?

By | 6 December, 2023 | 0 comments

Some visitors arrive thinking Christmas in Barcelona is just like anywhere else… but in this part of the world, we definitely do things our own way. Cataluña is steeped in deep-rooted traditions and culture so, as you might expect, the Christmas season is certainly unique.

If you’re thinking of spending Christmas in Barcelona, here’s everything you need to know about the traditions and customs in Cataluña  at this very special time of year. Read on to find out more!

Christmas markets in Barcelona

The Christmas markets are a key fixture in the festive calendar in Barcelona, a must-see experience for visitors and locals alike. And no visit to the Catalan capital at this time of year is complete without a visit to the famous festive markets.

In fact, it’s said that Christmas in Barcelona doesn’t officially begin until you see the markets open up in the city. Traditionally, on 13 December – marking Saint Llúcia Day in Cataluña – the big market selling fir trees and Christmas ornaments would open for business on Plaza de la Catedral. The start date has been brought forward a little over the years to 24 November, but it still retains all that festive magic. Here, you’ll find Christmas trees of all sizes to decorate your home, seasonal flowers, mistletoe, figures for your manger scene, festive crafts and plenty more at the market, which has been a prominent event in the city since way back in 1786. The festive scent of fir trees mixed with eucalyptus branches from the market perfume the air in the city all the way up until Christmas eve.

Another of the city’s more famous markets that opens on 16 December is known as the Three Kings Market, which you’ll find on Gran Vía, specialising in toys and sweet treats. Open since 1877, the market currently hosts more than 200 stalls where you’ll also find a wide variety of crafts and gifts. A great opportunity to snap up some last-minute Christmas presents and souvenirs, the market is open late into the evenings and is also a great opportunity to see the procession of the Three Kings themselves as part of the traditional parade.

Catalan food and drink at Christmas

Catalan food and drink comes into its own around Christmas time, with local homes and restaurants teeming with delicious traditions, tastes and festive smells. Among the most common dishes, you’ll find escudella i carn d’olla, a traditional meat and vegetable stew and soup, as well as sopa de galets, affectionately known locally as Christmas soup. It’s an almost obligatory Catalan tradition to eat this soup on Christmas Day.

Another Catalan tradition is that 26 December is a public holiday as people mark Saint Esteve Day.  This tradition has lasted the centuries. It started because it took people such a long time to travel long distances to be with their families for Christmas, which meant they couldn’t make it back to work in time for the 26th. On the day, cannelloni are never missing from the table, with all sorts of fillings taken from leftovers from Christmas Day, as tradition dictates.

Ever heard of the Catalan tradition of “Tió de Nadal”?

Another of the most well-known Catalan traditions is “Tió de Nadal”. He’s a wooden log with a smiling face and a red blanket to keep warm… but, more than anything else, he brings joy to the little ones on Christmas Eve.

Christmas in Barcelona is celebrated by beating “Tio” while the whole family gathers round to sing carols until – eventually – the log gives way and reveals a big pile of sweets and treats to be enjoyed after dinner. In some homes, the famous Christmas character also brings gifts for the children beyond dessert, and some now even extend the tradition all the way through until the New Year.

In short, Christmas in Barcelona is really nothing like you’ll find anywhere else. Catalan culture brings some truly unique traditions and customs, but most obviously around this time of year. And the best way to get to know a new place, to understand what makes people tick and really immerse yourself in the local culture is to enjoy Christmas as part of the Catalan community.


Categories: barcelona

Barcelona, May 13th 2020

Our highest priority is the health of our customers and employees for this in HCC Hotels is still working hard to provide new and enhanced sanitization and cleaning protocols for a safe stay in our HOTELS.

  • Provision of disinfectant gel in public areas of the hotel.
  • Training adapted for our staff depending on the work department.
  • Equipment for staff with the necessary protection systems.
  • Intensification of cleaning and disinfection in rooms and in public areas.
  • Reduction in capacity and respect for the minimum safety distances established throughout the hotel.
  • Adaptation and constant updating of protocols with new security measures against COVID19 at all times.

As always, we will continue offering personalized service, as we have known over more than 25 years of experience.

We hope to see you soon! We are one step closer to achieving it!

Barcelona, March 24th 2020

It is time to take care of each other!

Following the instructions of the Central Government, we communicate that all HCC Hotels will remain closed until the state of alarm ends. The safety of our employees and customers is and has always been our highest priority.

However, we continue to work from home, so we are available by phone (+34) 934817350 or e-mail hcc@hcchotels.es for any questions you have about your reservations.

At HCC Hotels, we want to send everyone all our support: we will overcome this situation together!

Thank you very much to all.