Events in Barcelona Comment
Home » Blog » Events in Barcelona » Christmas in Barcelona

Christmas in Barcelona

Christmas is a very special time to visit Barcelona. The city turns into a sea of lights and you see beautiful Christmas decorations everywhere. Add some Christmas carols, and the Christmas spirit in the streets of Barcelona is complete!

As a born and raised Barcelonian, I have had the pleasure of celebrating Christmas in Barcelona many times. Therefore, in this guide, I have collected all my tips regarding Christmas in Barcelona, so you know exactly how Christmas is celebrated in Barcelona and what to do during Christmas in Barcelona.

First published: 12/09/2015 – Last update: 11/22/2023

Experience Christmas in Barcelona

Barcelona is a popular destination for those who want to celebrate Christmas under the sun. The city offers entertainment and fun for everyone and is, especially during Christmas, a magical place. In addition to the Christmas decorations and street lights, there are numerous events, such as Christmas markets and ice skating rinks, to choose from, and you can fully immerse yourself in Spanish Christmas traditions during your visit.

Preparations for a Christmas Trip to Barcelona

If you’re thinking of visiting Barcelona for Christmas, it’s advisable to book your flights and accommodation well in advance, as this is a popular travel time.

Additionally, it’s wise to plan your holiday well: you should take into account different opening hours and that shops, museums, and attractions will be closed during the official holidays.

If you want to dine out, for example, during Christmas Day or Boxing Day, you should also make a reservation, as not all restaurants will be open during the holidays, and if they are open, they are often fully booked.

And to avoid losing time in the queues at various attractions, I finally recommend always getting tickets in advance for your favorite activities. During the holidays, it’s always extra busy at the famous attractions and all Christmas events.

How is Christmas in Barcelona?

Christmas is celebrated exuberantly in Spain, and so in Barcelona. During the Christmas period, Spaniards go all out to celebrate Christmas, with the most beautiful clothes and decorations, the nicest gifts, and the best food. Everywhere there are Christmas lights, nativity scenes, and Christmas trees, children write letters to Santa and the Three Kings, and the Christmas markets and ice skating rinks open their doors. In short, in Barcelona, they know how to celebrate Christmas!

When does Christmas start in Barcelona?

The Christmas season in Barcelona begins with the festive lighting of the Christmas lights and the opening of the Fira de Santa Llúcia Christmas market at the end of November. Many stores also reveal their Christmas window displays around these days.

In most Spanish households, the Christmas tree and nativity scene are set up on December 8, during the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. That’s when the Christmas period really begins!

Spaniards also count the celebrations of New Year’s Eve and Three Kings’ Day as part of the Christmas period, extending Christmas until January 6.

Christmas Tree at Käthe Wohlfahrt Barcelona
Christmas Tree at Käthe Wohlfahrt Barcelona

When do they turn on the Christmas lights in Barcelona?

Where and when the Christmas lights are turned on in Barcelona changes each year, but generally happens around November 24 and takes place in a different district each year.

This year, the festive lighting of the Christmas lights will be held on November 23 at 18:00 on Passeig de Gràcia. From there, all the Christmas lights of the streets in Barcelona will be illuminated.

The lights will then be on every day between 17:30 and 22:00-23:00 until January 6.

Plaça Reial in Barcelona at Christmas
Plaça Reial in Barcelona at Christmas

How many Christmas days does Barcelona have?

The Christmas holiday in Spain usually lasts two weeks, the last week of December and the first week of January. Only December 25, December 26, January 1, and January 6 are official holidays.

During the official holidays, shops, museums, and attractions are closed. Keep this in mind when going to Barcelona, and don’t forget to reserve your restaurants in time, as not all of them are open.

Is Barcelona fun at Christmas?

Absolutely! Barcelona is a vibrant city full of interesting and fun places, and especially at Christmas, with all the Christmas decorations, Christmas lights, and Christmas events, it is very much worth the visit.

Although there is no white Christmas in Barcelona, the Christmas spirit is everywhere. Wherever you go, you will see Christmas decorations and lights, shopkeepers will greet you with “felices fiestas” (happy holidays), there is cheerful Christmas music everywhere, and it is great fun to visit the Christmas market or admire the nativity scenes.

Especially with the kids, there is a lot to experience these days: from cozy Christmas markets to real family events. Barcelona is also a very attractive city for shopping and eating well.

Because the winters here are very mild and sunny, you can also enjoy being outdoors and the winter sun to the fullest.

What are the opening hours during Christmas in Barcelona?

Most shops extend their opening hours during Christmas. Especially in the center of Barcelona, you will find shops that are open from 09:00 to 21:00. Even on Sundays, most shops in the center are open during the holidays.

On December 25 and 26 and January 1, the shops are closed.

How warm is it during Christmas in Barcelona?

Barcelonians do not know a white Christmas. Winters in Barcelona are very mild, with temperatures fluctuating between 10 and 15 degrees during the day and almost never falling below freezing.

A thick winter coat is generally unnecessary, but you should bring sunglasses.

What are the Christmas traditions in Spain?

Spaniards have their own Christmas traditions: from placing a nativity scene in their living room to eating turrón and toasting with cava or buying a Christmas lottery ticket.

Most Christmas gifts in Spain, for example, come from the Three Kings, and on New Year’s Eve at exactly 12 o’clock at night, everyone eats 12 grapes, as this is believed to bring luck for the new year.

In Catalonia, we also have a number of – very funny – traditions, such as the pooping figurine in the stable (the caganer) and the laughing log that poops presents (the Tió de Nadal). 🤪

Caga Tió - Catalan Christmas traditions in Barcelona
Caga Tió

Where should you be in Barcelona at Christmas?

You can taste the Christmas atmosphere everywhere in the city, but the biggest events, most beautiful window displays, and most beautiful Christmas lights will be found in the center of Barcelona.

Well-known is the Fira de Santa Llúcia Christmas market, the illuminated facade of the department store El Corte Inglés in Plaça Catalunya, the Christmas lights at Passeig de Gràcia and Portal de l’Àngel, and the large Christmas tree and nativity scene at Plaça de Sant Jaume.

Additionally, you can shop wonderfully in the center of Barcelona.

Where can you have a Christmas dinner in Barcelona?

Those who want to dine out in Barcelona during Christmas or New Year’s Eve would do well to book a restaurant in advance, as some restaurants may be closed or already fully booked.

Many restaurants offer special Christmas menus during the holidays, the so-called menú de navidad.

If you are traveling with a group, it is worth asking about the group menu; these are special menus that restaurants make for groups and are often offered at a reasonable price.

A few classics in the city, such as the restaurants of 7 Portes, Los Caracoles, and Xiringuito Escribà, are also open during the holidays and are, as always, very much worth the visit.

If you are looking for a nice restaurant for a Christmas dinner in Barcelona, check out my favorites on my restaurant page.

Christmas Tree at restaurant El Nacional Barcelona
Christmas Tree at restaurant El Nacional Barcelona

What to Do in Barcelona for Christmas 2023

If you’re coming to Barcelona this Christmas and want to experience the Christmas atmosphere, there are a number of places you shouldn’t miss. Below I explain what there is to do in Barcelona at Christmas, where you should go to soak up the Christmas spirit, to shop, and where the best Christmas events are happening.

Christmas Decorations in Barcelona

Barcelona prepares for Christmas by beautifully decorating its streets, buildings, and shop windows. The Christmas decorations are usually revealed at the end of November, often after the festive lighting of the Christmas lights. With this, the Christmas season is officially opened and all Christmas markets open.

Department stores like El Corte Inglés and other shopping centers always boast beautifully decorated shop windows during the Christmas season.

The illuminated Casa Batlló and the decorated Casa Milà also attract a lot of attention at Passeig de Gràcia.

Christmas Markets in Barcelona

Barcelona also has a long tradition of Christmas markets. There, Barcelonians get their Christmas decorations and gifts. In addition to traditional markets such as Fira de Santa Llúcia or the toy market Fira de Reis, there is now also a Christmas market at the port of Barcelona, which contains various attractions for the whole family!

If you’re looking for a nice Christmas market to visit in Barcelona, here are my recommendations:

  • Fira de Santa Llúcia (from November 24 to December 23, 2023): the oldest and most famous Christmas market in Barcelona, where all traditions, such as Tió de Nadal and the caganer, are honored. This is where Barcelonians get their figures for the nativity scene and the Christmas tree.
  • Fira de Nadal at the Sagrada Família (from November 25 to December 23, 2023): this traditional Christmas market is held every year in front of the famous Sagrada Família.
  • Fira de Reis de la Gran Via (from December 15, 2023, to January 6, 2024): the toy market of la Gran Via is open until Three Kings’ Day and is where Barcelonians get gifts for the children.
  • Nadal al Port (from December 5, 2023, to January 7, 2024): the most child-friendly Christmas market in Barcelona is held at the old port. There you will find attractions such as a Ferris wheel, an ice-skating rink, a carousel, and much more fun.

Christmas Market Fira de Santa Llúcia
Christmas Market Fira de Santa Llúcia

Christmas Trees in Barcelona

Christmas trees not only add extra Christmas spirit indoors but also on the streets and shopping centers of Barcelona. The most spectacular Christmas trees in Barcelona can be found at Portal de l’Àngel, the shopping street of Barcelona, Port Vell, and Plaça Sant Jaume.

In all cases, these are very large Christmas trees that are fully decorated for Christmas.

Nativity Scenes in Barcelona

Setting up a nativity scene for Christmas is a tradition that is still done by many families in Spain. In this way, they depict the biblical story of Christmas and the birth of Jesus.

But it doesn’t stop there: nativity scenes are also placed in schools, markets, squares, and churches so that everyone can see them, and in some cases, nativity scenes are even brought to life, the so-called pessebre vivent (living nativity scenes).

It’s interesting to know that in the Catalan version of the nativity scene, a figurine of a pooping shepherd is placed, the caganer, which is supposed to bring prosperity.

During the Christmas season, a visit to the nativity scene at Plaça Sant Jaume is a must. This nativity scene is a popular attraction and because it looks different every year, it always attracts a lot of attention.

But the nativity scene at Plaça Sant Jaume is certainly not the only one worth seeing! Here is a list of the most beautiful nativity scenes in Barcelona:

  • Nativity scene at Plaça Sant Jaume: the quintessential nativity scene of Barcelona, with a different design every year that always causes a lot of excitement.
  • Nativity scene at the Cathedral: in the cloister of the cathedral of Barcelona, a large nativity scene is always set up. Equally interesting is the nativity scene placed in the nearby Museu Frederic Marès. Both nativity scenes are very traditional.
  • Nativity scene at Nadal al Port: for a more modern version of the nativity scene, visit the glowing and sea-floating nativity scene placed at the port in Barcelona.
  • Nativity scene at the Sagrada Família: in addition to special Christmas lighting, the famous Sagrada Família also has a nativity scene! You can find it at the entrance to the crypt and it’s free to visit between 17:00 and 20:00.
Nativity Scene at Museu Frederic Marès
Nativity Scene at Museu Frederic Marès

Christmas Shopping in Barcelona

During the Christmas days, the shopping streets and centers of Barcelona are flooded with consumers looking for nice gifts. Shops even open several Sundays in December to meet demand (the three Sundays before Christmas).

The decorated streets and shop windows create an extra festive ambiance and make shopping for gifts even more fun, although it can be very busy at times.

Some shops that are extra fun to visit at Christmas are:

  • Käthe Wohlfahrt (Carrer dels Banys Nous, 15): this Christmas shop, with a rebuilt German village in Christmas attire, is the place to buy Christmas balls in Barcelona. Here you will find all kinds of Christmas decorations, even Christmas balls from the Sagrada Família or a caganer, and you can buy mulled wine and gingerbread cookies. This Christmas shop is open all year round.
  • El Corte Inglés (Plaça de Catalunya, 14): at this Spanish shop you can stock up on all your Christmas gifts: from clothing and shoes to cosmetics, jewelry, books, and toys. The Christmas department of El Corte Inglés is also recommended these days.
  • Lego Store (Passeig de Gràcia, 9): check out the largest Lego Store in Spain, where you will find, among other things, a rebuilt Park Güell and Sagrada Família made of Lego bricks. Here you can also find and buy all kinds of Lego games.
  • Drim (Centre Comercial Glòries, Avinguda Diagonal, 208): another address for getting toys for the little ones are the Drim toy stores. This branch has the nice extra of a huge Ferris wheel inside the store!
  • Turrons Vicens (Carrer de Petritxol, 15): throughout the city, you will find Turrons Vicens stores where the Christmas delicacy par excellence, turrón, is sold in all sorts and flavors. The ideal souvenir to take home!

👉 Discover here where you can shop in Barcelona.

Käthe Wohlfahrt Barcelona
Käthe Wohlfahrt Barcelona

In addition, various markets and events are held in the days before Christmas where one can buy original and handmade gifts, from art to foodstuffs. Some renowned markets for searching for gifts (or just to browse around) are BCN Makers, Algodonera Market Lab, and Palo Alto Market.

Charity markets are also organized in Barcelona. Don’t miss, for example, the Fira de Consum Responsable i d’Economia Social i Solidària at Plaça de Catalunya, the Christmas Market Solidari at Casa Capell, or the Mercat solidari de Pedralbes.

Ice Skating in Barcelona

Multiple ice rinks also always open in Barcelona during Christmas, providing lots of fun for young and old. Most ice rinks are found at shopping centers such as L’Illa Diagonal and La Maquinista.

But for the most fun, head to Tibidabo, where an ice rink is set up between November 25, 2023, and January 5, 2024.

Christmas Concerts in Barcelona

Around Christmas, various concerts are held in both the Sagrada Família, the Teatre Liceu, and the Palau de la Música Catalana, with the highlight being the Sant Esteve concert on December 26 at the Palau de la Música.

It’s also very common to hear Christmas carols in many shops and shopping streets. Don’t miss the free concert of nadales (Christmas carols) held every year at Plaça del Rei (this year on January 4 at 19:30).

Christmas Shows in Barcelona

Many theaters in the city also hold special (child-friendly) performances around the Christmas story.

Very typical of these days is the theater performance of Els Pastorets, which tells the story of the shepherds from Bethlehem who go to visit the newborn baby Jesus.

Also, at the central Plaça de Catalunya, there’s a stage where fun performances for the little ones can be seen daily.

Church Services in Barcelona

Around the holidays, numerous special church services are held in the churches of Barcelona, with the highlight being the Misa del Gallo, the midnight mass on Christmas Eve.

Especially special to experience is the “Cant de la Sibil·la“, a Gregorian chant from the Middle Ages that is sung during the Misa del Gallo in the cathedral, the basilica of Santa Maria del Mar, or in the church of La Bonanova.

Christmas Events in Barcelona

Every year, Barcelona hosts a variety of festivals and events to celebrate Christmas, ranging from a Christmas circus to a light festival or a mini winter wonderland for children.

Below is a list of the key Christmas events not to be missed:

  • Natura Encesa (from November 20, 2023 to January 21, 2024): a special light festival taking place in Barcelona at the Jardins de Torre Girona gardens.
  • Els Llums de Sant Pau (from November 21, 2023 to January 14, 2024): a light festival held in the gardens of the old Hospital de Sant Pau, featuring an ice rink this year!
  • Festival de Nadal a la plaça de Catalunya (from December 16 to 29, 2023): each year, the central Plaça de Catalunya is transformed into a mini winter wonderland, with various activities and shows for the whole family, alongside a charity market for gift shopping.
  • Tibidabo Amusement Park (from November 25, 2023 to January 5, 2024): Christmas is celebrated in a big way at Tibidabo Amusement Park, with special Christmas shows, cooking workshops, and an ice rink!
  • Circ Raluy (from December 1, 2023 to February 11, 2024): this circus arrives annually at Port Vell in Barcelona, bringing the magic of the circus to the city.
  • Poble Espanyol (from December 2, 2023 to January 7, 2024): the Christmas event at Poble Espanyol offers children the chance to meet Santa and the Three Kings, and to see Poble Espanyol fully decorated in Christmas themes.
  • La Ciutat dels Somnis (from December 27 to 31, 2023): the ultimate children’s festival during the holidays in Barcelona, where children can play to their heart’s content.
  • Barçaland (from November 30, 2023 to January 6, 2024): Camp Nou hosts various sports and Christmas activities for children, including meeting Santa or making a tió de nadal (the magical log) poop! Tickets are available for purchase.
Illuminated Christmas tree at Nadal al Port in Barcelona
Illuminated Christmas tree at Nadal al Port in Barcelona

New Year’s Eve in Barcelona

New Year’s Eve is celebrated in Barcelona with various parties and the eating of 12 lucky grapes. Most families meet on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day to eat together and celebrate the new year.

New Year’s Day is a public holiday in Spain, so all shops are closed. Traditionally, the bravest take a dip in the sea to welcome the new year.

👉 Read more about New Year’s Eve in Barcelona here.

Three Kings Day in Barcelona

The festival eagerly awaited by all children in Spain is Three Kings Day, as it’s traditionally the Three Wise Men who bring most of the gifts.

Three Kings Day is celebrated on January 6, the last holiday of the Christmas period in Spain, featuring a large Christmas lunch with family.

In Barcelona, Three Kings Day is celebrated grandly, with various parades and special places where children can give their wish lists to the Three Kings.

Also interesting to see is the Fàbrica de Creació Fabra i Coats, which is transformed into the Three Kings’ gift factory between late December and early January, where all the gifts for children are kept.

There’s even a special pastry, the Roscón de Reyes, which is only eaten on Three Kings Day.

Good to Know

  • Those visiting Barcelona during Christmas should inform themselves about the opening hours of museums, attractions, and restaurants they plan to visit.
  • On official public holidays, all shops in Barcelona are closed except for the Maremagnum shopping center, which is open 365 days a year.
  • Most restaurants in the city center remain open during the holidays, but due to extra crowds, it may be difficult to get a table, so booking in advance is recommended.
  • The Christmas lights are on from the end of November until January 6.
  • In Spain, not only Christmas is celebrated with gifts and lavish feasts, but also Three Kings Day.

These were my tips for Christmas in Barcelona. If you’re in Barcelona this Christmas, or have visited Barcelona during the Christmas period, leave a comment! I’d love to hear about your experience. And if you have any questions about celebrating Christmas in Barcelona, feel free to leave a comment.

Bon Nadal!

Other blogs you might also like:

El Corte Inglés in Barcelona

El Corte Inglés in Barcelona

Discover Spain’s premier shopping destination: El Corte Inglés. Originating from a humble Madrid tailor shop in 1890, El Corte Inglés has grown into a renowned department store chain celebrated for its quality, variety, and exceptional service. Among its numerous locations ... Read more
Affordable Hotels in Barcelona

10 Affordable Hotels in Barcelona for a Budget-Friendly Stay

Staying in a nice and affordable hotel in Barcelona may seem like a challenge, but it’s definitely possible. Barcelona offers a wide range of affordable and functional budget hotels that are perfect for a city break. If you’re looking for ... Read more
America's Cup in Barcelona

America’s Cup in Barcelona

The America’s Cup 2024 will take place between August and October in Barcelona. This historic sailing competition brings together the world’s best sailors and teams in an event that promises to be a breathtaking mix of sport, culture, and technology. ... Read more
Photo of author
Hello! My name is Marta, and I am a born and raised Barcelonian. I love introducing people to Barcelona, especially the Barcelona known to locals. In Barcelona, I am always looking for fun places and tips that I can then share with you, with the goal of helping you experience Barcelona like a local.

Marta Rubio

Leave a Comment