Barcelona at Christmas: Must see events and must do activities

Whether you´re simply passing through Barcelona in December or planning a more extended stay, we´ve compiled a list of unmissable events to mark the festive season. Keep reading, there are several things to do in Barcelona at Christmas.

Barcelona at Christmas: Must See events and must do activities

  • The Nativity Scene, Plaça de Sant Jaume

Every December Plaça de Sant Jaume comes alive with a giant nativity scene (Pessebre). Whilst all the traditional characters are represented (as well as Catalunya´s traditional Caganer or pooing man), they appear in different guises with the exception of the three kings. The nativity scene takes on a different theme each year and this year sees a more modern twist to the traditional setting with nine giant globes.

nativity-scene-barcelona

  • Christmas Markets in Barcelona

The Christmas market on Avinguda de la Cathedral, known locally as the Fira de Santa Llúcia, is another Barcelona must see at Christmas. It runs from 25th November until 23rd December, and, located in the heart of the Gothic quarter, offers the perfect setting to soak up the festive atmosphere. Here you can get your hands on some Catalan souvenirs such as él caganer (pooing man to go in the Nativity scene) or El Tió de Nadal (present-pooing log). However, if you prefer to pick up your Christmas gifts in a more intimate setting, make your way to smaller markets such as the Sagrada Familia market, The Three Kings Fair on Gran Via or the neighbourhood markets of Sants and Pedrables.

christmas-markets-in-barcelona

 

  • Xocolata amb Xurros in Barcelona

When thinking about chocolate with churros, it´s impossible not to think about the sweetest street in the city, Carrer de Petritxol, next to Plaça del Pi in the Gothic quarter. There you will find the best chocolatiers in the city such as La Dulcinea and La Pallaresa.

chocolate-with-churros-barcelona

  • The Kings Parade, January 5th

The Kings Parade (La Cavalgada de Reis) is a procession where the three kings arrive in Barcelona on their impressive floats with their royal pages. They parade around the whole city handing out thousands of sweets from 18:00-21:00 before continuing their night´s work of delivering presents to children across the world. On this day, children go to bed early in the hope of waking up to find the presents they had asked for in a letter to the kings. According to tradition, children who have behaved badly during the year will receive coal.

the-kings-parade-barcelona

  • Music and More

For a more relaxed way to get into the Christmas spirit, head to Palau de Musica, Liceu Opera House and Cathedral de Santa Maria del Mar for a variety of Christmas concerts. For those visitors with younger children, Poble Espanyol is packed with family-friendly events throughout December.

So, be sure not to miss out on these Barcelona must see Christmas events, there are loads of things to do in Barcelona at Christmas, and remember, we have several apartments in Barcelona that will make your holidays unforgettable, take a look!

 

 

 

 

 

El Caganer and El Tió de Nadal: Catalan christmas traditions

Catalonia is known for it´s often unusual traditions and Christmas time in the region is no exception. This article explains the mystery of two important figures that appear in the festive season – El Caganer and El Tió de Nadal.

Often found among the more traditional Nativity scene setting is El Caganer (or the crapper). This funny figure, which traditionally takes the form of a gnome-type figurine, is often depicted in a red cap (barretina) with his trousers down and defecating! This bare-bottomed figure is said to bring good luck and his popularity has spread in recent years. El Caganer can be seen throughout Catalonia as well as other areas of Spain (Murcia), Portugal and Italy (Naples).

El Caganer

Nowadays, caganer figures are available in many different forms, including key politicians, football players, and even the pope (!) and are available to buy at Barcelona´s Christmas markets.

The origin of the Caganer isn´t entirely clear but he is believed to have appeared in Nativity scenes by the late 17th Century. Some claim that his faeces represent the fertilizing of the Earth within the Nativity scene and consequently ensuring that the scene would be fertile for the following year. Others claim he is a response to comtemporary social issues such as immigration and some claim El Caganer borders on blasphemy.  The Caganer is largely tolerated in Catholic counties but opinion is divided as to whether Caganers are totally appropriate in Nativity scenes.

El Caga tió or El tió de Nadal is a popular fixture throughout Catalonia at Christmas.  El Tió is quite literally a smiley pooing Christmas log with a red Catalan beret, perched on stick legs and covered by a blanket. Children traditionally look after El Caga tió from 8th December (Dia de la Immaculada Concepció) until Christmas Eve, when he is placed by a fireplace and sung to. Whilst singing, children hit this cheerful pooing log with a stick before leaving the room to pray for presents (at which point, parents sneakily place presents under the blanket). Upon returning, children are met with a load of presents (typically sweets) that have been pooed out of the log.

Caga Tio

The Tió de Nadal, now available to buy in Christmas markets across Barcelona, dates back several centuries to a time when the fireplace was a central part of family life. Traditionally, the log was burned after Christmas celebrations were over and its ashes scattered on the crops to promote fertility.

So, get ready to celebrate this festive season Catalan-style and be sure to pick up your very own Caganer or Tió de Nadal at the Christmas markets in December!

Tipping in Barcelona ? How much shall I tip ?

For visitors to any new city, the issue of tipping often creates some degree of confusion. Tipping in Barcelona, and indeed throughout Spain, isn’t as common as in other countries such as the USA, and in the early part of the 20th century was once deemed inappropriate as it heightened the class divide. Nowadays, tipping is at the customers’ discretion. Keep reading for locals’ advice on the do’s and don’ts of tipping in Barcelona.

  • Tipping in Bars and cafes in Barcelona

Catalans tend not to tip much in bars or cafes, but if service is particularly good, they might leave some loose change once they’ve paid up, but rarely more than a euro.

  • Tipping in Barcelona Restaurants

Given that tipping in Barcelona isn’t expected, you are unlikely to receive exceptional service in restaurants. That said, if you wish to show gratitude for good service, you could leave a few euros on top of the bill and slightly more for large groups and in more exclusive restaurants (around 7-10%).

  • Tipping in a Taxi
If you plan to hop in a taxi to get around the city and want to leave a tip for good service (for example, if your driver has taken you the most direct route), it is common to simply round up the fare. So, if your ride costs €9.50, you may with to pay €10. However, tipping is not expected.
  • Takeaway/Delivery service
Again, tipping isn’t expected but some people give up to a couple of Euro to the delivery person for efficient, friendly service, particularly if someone has delivered goods to your apartment door and you don’t have an elevator!
  • Tipping in City Tours
In general, tips are included in the price of the tour, but if you feel that your guide has really looked after you and you’ve enjoyed the tour, you could leave up to €5 per person at the end of the day.
We hope this article gives you a bit of guidance when deciding when and how much to tip.

Top 5 best paella in Barcelona

Paella is a popular rice dish served across Spain and is often the focal point for family gatherings and long weekend lunches. Paella can be prepared with seafood, meat or vegetables and thus caters for a variety of culinary preferences. We’ve searched high and low for the best paella in Barcelona, so if you are a fan, pay careful attention to the following recommendations.

Top 5 best paella in Barcelona

  • At the top of our list for the provider of the best paella in Barcelona is Barraca, located a stone´s throw from the waterfront in Barceloneta. Barraca´s outdoor terrace on Passeig de Marítim provides the ideal spot to sit back and absorb the local atmosphere whilst sampling mouth-watering dishes from a menu prepared by acclaimed chef Xavier Pellier. The seafood paella here is not to be missed. However, if the idea of fresh seafood doesn´t tickle your tastebuds, the vegetarian paella comprised of organic produce is a great alternative. Due to its fabulous location and delectable dishes made from the freshest produce, Barraca undoubtedly serves up the best paella in Barcelona. barraca Best Paella in Barcelona
  • Coming in at a close second is La Mar Salada, famed for its prawn and lobster paella. The restaurant, frequented by locals and foodies alike, is a family run business which operates with the help of top Catalan chef Ferran Adrià. This family-run restaurant serves high-quality, authentic paella dishes and easily clinches a title of of of the best paellas in Barcelona.la-mar-salada-barceloneta
  • Next up is Suquet de l’Almirall.  This venue prides itself on using fresh produce straight from the port and offers a variety of paella dishes including mixed paella, noodle paella (fideuà) with lobster and a vegetarian option served with vegetables, olives and thyme. Suquet de l’Almirall´s maritime-inspired decor and attractive outdoor terrace make this place a true mecca for paella fans.suquet-de-lalmirall-barcelona
  • In fourth place for the best paella in Barcelona is Cheriff. Cheriff serves up a selection of paella dishes including the not-to-be-missed Paella Cheriff, in a traditional, relaxed setting ideal for families. With its exceptional quality, wholesome food, local feel and terrace, it is easy to see why Cheriff is one of the most celebrated paella destinations in the city.cheriff-barcelona
  • Last but not least, paella fans should head to 7 Portes for a fusion of tradition, innovation and seasonal produce. 7 Portes is one of the most emblematic and popular paella establishments in Barcelona and after sampling speciality dishes such as Paella Parellada, it´s easy to see why.7-portes
If you come to Barcelona to undertake a paella tour, we can help you with your stay. Are you ready to spend some incredible days in Barcelona?