Barcelona is beautiful during Christmas. The lights are lit, the chestnuts are roasting on street corners and the mood is cheerful and jolly. Over the holiday period there really is a lot to do, especially if you are visiting Barcelona at Christmas with kids. From markets to funfairs to parades, there is plenty to entertain the young ones. My family and I love this time of the year in the city and can’t wait! If you are here at this magical time, read on to find out what to do with kids in Barcelona for Christmas.
Things to do with kids in Barcelona at Christmas (2018-2019)
Three Kings Parade
Presents are given in Spain by the Three Kings, not Father Christmas or Santa Claus. The traditional letter is written and posted to the Kings in advance. However, if you miss the post, don’t worry, your kids can personally hand it to one of the Kings’ eighty assistants in the parade. Phew! This happens to me every year.
La Cabalgata de Reyes is the name of this magical parade held on the night of January 5th. Balthazar, Caspar and Melchior arrive in considerable style at the Port of Barcelona amidst lights, music and fireworks. They then begin their slow procession through part of central Barcelona. Aside from the Kings, there are the pages and helpers who throw sweets out to the waiting crowds lining the entire route. The parade includes professional artists and volunteers that bring it to a total of 12 floats and well over 1,000 participants! This is an absolute MUST for all children while in Barcelona.
There are a number of Kings Parades around the city in the different barrios but the biggest one will take place in the centre, starting at Ciutadella Park at 6pm.
Outside the Cathedral is the famous Fira de Santa LLúcia. Thought to have started as far back as 1786, this is a wonderful place to take the kids and really start to get into the Christmas spirit. If you are lucky, you might come across La Carassa de Barcelona, a big head depicting a Turkish warrior spitting candy out of his mouth. I am sure your children will love that.
The newer Feria de Navidad de la Sagrada Familia started up in the 1960s is located in front of Sagrada Familia. It feels special walking around this market with the imposing basilica as the back drop!
Giant nativity scene
Every year at Placa de Sant Jaume you can find a giant Nativity scene or “Pesebre”. This year’s installation was designed by artist Sebastià Brossa and it represents a Christmas dinner table with 12 attendants. Have fun finding Baby Jesus, the donkey and the cow, the angel and even the Catalan caganer. It is one of the nicest ones in recent years, especially at night when the lights are all lit.
Circ Raluy is a lovely tradition in Barcelona and they visit every year with a new show. Get taken back in time with this historic travelling human circus and museum of old caravans. Fancy spending the night? That’s an option too! The circus will stay in the city way past Christmas, from December 1st to February 18th.
El Tió de Nadal
If you have been taken a Gothic Quarter Free Walking Tour with us, you’ll be familiar with the Catalan Christmas tradition of El Tió de Nadal. There’s no getting away from it, this is an odd custom! A log that poops presents?! Of course. And the kids LOVE it!
This giant smiling log, covered with a red blanket so he stays warm, is put on display in front of the Cathedral and all children under the age of 12 are encouraged to approach him. They then wallop him with a stick and wait to see what treats he… delivers! You can have a wack most mornings from 10.30am to 1.30pm until December 19th. We took a video the children beating El Tió so you can see it in action.
Head out of the centre to La Farga Centre d’Activitats. At this temporary ice rink you can skate and toboggan as well as book to see music shows and circus workshops.
The City of Smiles is the name given by Barcelona City Council to the Christmas celebrations at Plaça Catalunya in 2018-19. Young and old can enjoy a big show performed throughout the day as well as other activities. In The Bookshop the kids can read and sing; in The Toy Shop, experiment with sounds; in The Sports Shop, practice their football and basketball skills; and in The Theatre, enjoy puppetry shows.
A giant 4 metre tall puppet called Mr. Winter is the main attraction this year. Try to catch him as he crosses the square at different times of the day or as part of the main theatre show.
The activities take place from December 21st to January 4th, except on Christmas Day. If you are here after New Year’s Eve, from the 2nd to the 4th of January, the little ones will have the opportunity to give their wish-list to the paiges of The Three Kings. A great photo op and… who knows? maybe your kids can receive new presents this year all the way from the Orient.
Happy Christmas and New Year everyone! I hope you have a fantastic time here in Barcelona. And, if you want something special for your kids, don’t miss our Kids & Family Private Tour around the Gothic Quarter. A very unique way of learning in a fun way for all the family.
Post originally published on November 2017. Updated on December 2018
Main photograph: Children in Barcelona beating El Tió by Valerie Hinojosa