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!

Palau de la Musica is One of the Best Concert Venues in Barcelona

Orchestra performance at the Palau de la MusicaMusic enthusiasts should consider the city of Barcelona, Spain, as their next vacation destination.  This gorgeous and exciting area offers endless opportunities for entertainment, including numerous musical and dancing performances.  If you’re visiting this city and you’re looking for the best concerts, you need to see what’s going on at Palau de la Musica in Barcelona.  One of the finest event venues around, this magnificent building is the perfect setting for an unforgettable night in Barcelona.  Learn everything you need to know about Palau de la Musica and check their events schedule today!

History of Palau de la Musica in Barcelona

This eye-catching attraction was built in the early 1900s by the beloved architect, Lluís Domènech i Montaner.  Palau de la Musica Catalana was constructed with the purpose of fostering musical appreciation to the community by providing them with the finest entertainment possible.  You’ll spot this gorgeous structure right away due to its iconic, colorful stained-glass windows and towering columns.  You’ll find it easily, as it’s located nearby to popular Barcelona attractions like Las Ramblas and the Barcelona Cathedral.  

Events at the Palau de Musica in Barcelona

Visitors and locals alike flock to Palau de la Musica in Barcelona from near and far to experience the incredible shows held here.  They host over 600 shows annually, with over 190,000 visitors attending these extravagant events every year.  These amazing shows include flamenco dancing, symphony orchestra performances, operas, concerts, and much more.  Many performances of the Maestros de la Guitarra are held here as well.  Take a look at their events calendar to see the full schedule of performances!

While you’re here, you should also consider participating in a guided tour of the Palau de la Musica Catalana.  A historic building that is recognized as a World Heritage Site, this is one of the best places to take a tour in Barcelona.  You’ll be treated to stories of this building’s past, as well as behind-the-scenes peeks into how these productions are created.

How to Obtain Palau de la Musica Tickets to the Next Concert

You can purchase your tickets for the events at the Palau de la Musica either online or at their box office.  If you have any questions about tickets, you can contact them by calling (902) 442-882.

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Where is the Best Barcelona Christmas Market?

See decorations at a Barcelona Christmas marketThe holiday season is such a magical time of year!  If you’re looking for the perfect place to spend your Christmas, Barcelona is your ideal destination.  This enchanting and exotic city is home to some truly incredible attractions and activities during this time of year.  During the day, shopping in a Barcelona Christmas market is a popular pastime.  As the sun dips below the horizon, the streets illuminate with countless Barcelona Christmas lights twinkling in the dark.  While you’re in this city enjoying the quirky Christmas traditions and festivities, be sure to purchase a souvenir at a Barcelona Christmas market to commemorate your trip!  Here are some of the best Christmas fairs in Barcelona to explore during your vacation.  

5 Places to Experience a Barcelona Christmas Market this Holiday Season

1. Fira de Santa Llúcia

A Barcelona Christmas tradition that dates all the way back to 1786, Fira de Santa Llúcia is a can’t-miss event.  Their many booths feature items like musical instruments, Christmas decorations, crafts, and much more.  This is one of the most authentic Spanish markets in the city.  

Address: Carrer dels Lledó, 11, 2, 08002 Barcelona, España.

2. Fira de Nadal a la Sagrada Familia

Located within gardens surrounding the iconic Sagrada Familia is the Fira de Nadal a la Sagrada Familia runs from late November through the beginning of December.  They offer all the gifts and treats you need for the Christmas season!

Address: Plaza de la Sagrada Familia, 1, 08013 Barcelona, España.

3. Mercat Gòtic (Fira de Brocanters)

This particular market is open all year long, but it especially busy during the holidays.  They offer a wide variety of precious antiques and other rare artifacts to browse.  You’re bound to find a unique treasure here!
Address: Avenida Catedral, 7, Ciutat Vella, El Barri Gòtic, 08002, Barcelona, España.

4. Col.lectiu d’Artesans de l’Alimentació

This is the best place to go if you’re looking for some of the finest local foods and produce!  Col.lectiu d’Artesans de l’Alimentació offers a wide selection of chocolates, wines, cakes, honey, cheeses, herbs, and much more.  They are open year round, so visitors are always able to stop by.

Address: Plaça del Pi, 08002 Barcelona, España.

5. Mostra d’Artesans de la Ribera

Located in the lovely El Born area, Mostra d’Artesans de la Ribera offers excellent hand-crafted gifts.  There are also many other shops located nearby this spot for you to continue your shopping adventure in Barcelona.

Address: Carrer de l’Argenteria, 4, Barcelona, España.

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National Day of Catalonia Celebrations

Enjoy the festivities at the National Day of CataloniaEvery year on September 11th, Catalonians celebrate their national holiday throughout the region’s public spaces. With many of the businesses closed for the day, the National Day of Catalonia gives locals and visitors alike the chance to step back from daily routines to celebrate and commemorate. If you come to participate in this annual event you’ll witness the unique pride and patriotism found among this group of happy and passionate citizens who fought for their independence back on September 11th in 1714.

The holiday is celebrated by memorializing the Catalan heroes who fought in the War of the Spanish Succession, as well as many public and private parties throughout Barcelona and all of Catalonia. You may even catch a political demonstration by some of the still-fervent separatists, get to join in one of the many communal paella meals that are often taking place right out in the street, or catch a famous human pyramid in the making.

History of the National Day of Catalonia

Also known simply as La Diada, the National Day of Catalonia recognizes the day of September 11, 1714, towards the end of the War of the Spanish Succession, which marked the beginning of a long period in which French rule would take over the autonomous Spanish region of Catalonia. The government of Catalonia wasn’t restored until December 31, 1979, and September 11th was proclaimed as the Day of Catalonia to commemorate the painful memories of when the region lost its liberties. The National Day of Catalonia became an official holiday on September 11th, 1980.

National Day of Catalonia Events

  • Ofrena floral al Monument de Rafael Casanova Taking place at 9 am on La Diada each year is the laying of commemoration wreaths by Catalonia’s leaders such as current and former presidents, the Mayor of Barcelona, and other dignitaries from the area. It takes place at the Rafael Casanova Monument created by Rossend Nobas in 1886, a tomb at Iglesia de Sant Baldiri de Sant Boi. The wreaths are meant to pay tribute to all the Catalonian’s who died in the great War of the Spanish Succession.
  • Festa par la Llibertat – This outdoor freedom festival at the Arc de Triomf celebrates Catalan culture and the movement for the region’s independence from Spain. If you’re looking for a great time outside and some lovely music, concerts begin at 7 pm and continue into the night.
  • Government Open Houses – A few of the beautiful historic government buildings open their doors to the public as a way to celebrate the National Day of Catalonia each year. This year find both the Catalan Parliament at Parc de la Ciutadella open from 10 am to 7 pm, and the Palau de la Generalitat at the Plaça de Sant Jaume from 10 am to 5 pm.

The National Day of Catalonia is an exciting time to visit Barcelona this year. September 11th, 2016, falls on a Sunday, meaning that La Diada is the perfect opportunity to take a weekend away this fall. Barcelona is lovely in September as the temperatures start cooling down, and the busy month of August slips away. If you have yet to witness this epic street party and celebration of Catalan patriotism, make sure it’s on your list!

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Where to See a Flamenco Show in Barcelona

Enjoy a flamenco show in BarcelonaA flamenco show is a beloved form of entertainment in Spain!  This lively show is made of three key ingredients: guitar, song, and dancing.  Although it has spread to other countries and cultures throughout the years, flamenco originally came from Spain.  If you’re vacationing here and you’re wondering where to see a flamenco show in Barcelona, you have plenty of fantastic options!  There are many places in Barcelona dedicated to hosting fantastic flamenco shows while also serving some delectable dinner.  Beautiful, swirling dresses of the dancers combine with the thrilling, fast-paced beat of the music to create a magical and engaging performance that you can watch while enjoying your Catalan cuisine.  These shows are an excellent way to spend a night out on the town while experiencing some of Barcelona’s most celebrated culture, so start making your plans to see a flamenco show right away!

3 of the Best Places to See an Amazing Flamenco Show in Barcelona

1. El Tablao de Carmen in Barcelona

This esteemed attraction in Barcelona celebrates the life of Carmen Amaya, one of the most influential figures in the history and development of flamenco.  El Tablao de Carmen is a magnificent building with a spacious stage and excellent seating, so all audience members can get a good view of this captivating entertainment!  Reservations can be made online, so you can easily book a table and choose what delicious meal you’d like to eat.

2. Los Tarantos Barcelona

One of Barcelona’s oldest flamenco venues, Los Tarantos Barcelona holds three shows per night, each one lasting about 30 minutes in duration.  With a more intimate atmosphere and full service bar, this place draws visitors from far and wide to see these talented musicians and dancers perform.  Tickets are only 15 Euros for adults, so don’t skip out on seeing this incredible art form in an amazing spot!

3. Palacio del Flamenco in Barcelona, Spain

You’re bound to be impressed by the skills and passion of these outstanding flamenco performers at the Palacio del Flamenco in Barcelona, Spain!  This organization has developed a smooth blend of classical dance and traditional flamenco to create an entirely unique experience.  Their spacious theatre can seat up to 380 guests and hosts shows every day of the week.  With a menu of mouthwatering meals, including some of the finest tapas and other authentic Catalan cuisine, you’re guaranteed to leave this place with unforgettable memories!

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Festa Major de Gràcia: See the Streets Come Alive!

Enjoy the Festa Major de GraciaThe Festa Major de Gràcia is springing up in Barcelona again this year from August 15th through the 21st. One of the city’s foremost street festivals, this is a wonderful time to visit and experience traditional Catalan culture in one of the most beautiful and quirky neighborhoods in Catalonia. Both an opportunity to learn about Spanish traditions as well as enjoy delicious food and wonderful entertainment, Festa Major de Gràcia is truly an event of the year for many residents who graciously devote their public spaces to celebrating their ancestry, all the while welcoming guests – about 1.5 million of them each year – to share in this annual celebration.

A Local Tradition

Gràcia was once an independent town outside of Barcelona proper. As the city grew it engulfed this small community, but its roots have remained intact over the years through the hard work and commitment of the founding families. A way in which the area has remained such a tight community over the years is by hosting their annual Festa Major de Gràcia. Completely volunteer-led, members of the community have continued, year-after-year, to band together and host this outstanding celebration of Catalan culture in their very own streets. The communal feeling they create is indeed what keeps both residents and visitors returning every year for this event.

Grand Decorations

The main attraction is the outlandish and extravagant decorations that take months of planning, and days of setup before the festival each year. Local business owners and community members devote a lot of time to transforming the neighborhood into different scenes of underwater and Outerspace worlds, or even a zombie hangout. Every evening after sunset these displays light up, making for a beautiful evening stroll or an epic time to enjoy some tapas. The biggest crowds are found after sunset on August 15th as people flock to the streets to witness the first lighting of the year. Don’t miss seeing what worlds will arise at this year’s celebration!

Other Activities at Festa Major de Gràcia

Aside from the decorations, which are themselves worth the trip, festival goers can also look forward to tasting many dishes of Catalan tradition, drinking their wines, and enjoying their music that is played right in the street. This festival is completely free, besides the food and drink you might enjoy amid the created worlds, and is a the perfect activity for the whole family. The little ones will love exploring, eating and dancing in this festive atmosphere. More information on this year’s schedule can be found here in the coming weeks, so you can start getting excited for the Festa Major de Gràcia 2016.

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Your Guide to the Unique Catalan and Spanish Traditions and Customs

Your Guide to the Unique Catalan and Spanish Traditions and Customs

One of the best parts about visiting a new place is immersing yourself in their culture by observing and participating in their many customs and practices.  Spain, in particular, has some of the most uncommon and extraordinary behaviors in the world!  The northeast region of Spain, Catalonia, has its own distinct attributes as well.  Read the list below to discover some Catalan and Spanish traditions you may not have heard before.

Best Catalan and Spanish Traditions and Customs

Dining

Lunch is the most important meal of the day in Spain!  Breakfast and dinner are usually smaller meals, with dinner normally served around 9:00 p.m.  A popular form of Spanish food is tapas, which is a term that refers to small and delicious snacks eaten throughout the day.  One of the most beloved kinds of tapas in the Catalonia region is pan con tomate, a delightful toasted bread seasoned with tomato, olive oil, and salt.  

Entertainment

Entertainment in Spain is unlike any that you’ve ever experienced before!  Read through a few highlights of these popular recreational activities to get an idea of what you’ll see here.  

1. Bullfighting: This intense sport originated all the way back in 711 A.D.  It consists the skilled bullfighter, called a Matador, fighting to assert his dominance over a highly dangerous bull.  Onlookers sit on the edge of their seats to watch the outcome of these sometimes deadly shows.

2. Soccer: You’re guaranteed to love the thrill of an FC Barcelona soccer game!  These matches happen regularly and it’s fairly easy to score some tickets.  Visitors flock to the magnificent Camp Nou stadium so they don’t miss out on witnessing the stellar performance of one of the world’s best soccer teams.

3. Nightlife: A significant part of Spanish culture is their nightlife!  With all the spectacular beach clubs, going out on the town is a regular pastime here.  

Events and Holidays

Many Catalan and Spanish customs can be seen through their many unique holidays and festive events.  Take a look at these fun ways to celebrate in Spain and Catalonia!

1. Castellers: This is one of the best events to watch!  Part of the yearly Grand Festival, Castellers consists of teams of men standing on each others’ shoulders to create the tallest tower they can.  

2. Tió de Nadal: This Catalan Christmas tradition involves children dressing up a hollow log with a face, hat, and blanket.  This hollow log is filled with sweets the night before Christmas, so the children can wake up Christmas morning and beat the stump with a stick to spill out all the treats!

3. Carnival: One week of every year, the streets of Barcelona are filled with more colors and costumes than ever seen before!  The Carnival celebration honors the time period leading up to Lent through music, performances, games, and much more.

4. Running of the Bulls: This extreme event takes place in many Spanish cities as part of the San Fermin Festival; it consists of bulls being led at breakneck speeds throughout the streets.  This one of the most frequently spectated events in the area; it has been broadcasted live on television as well for over 30 years.

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