The biggest month of celebrations is almost upon us: Christmas. A time of sparkling lights, ancient traditions and sweet treats galore. Though aside from the big event itself what is there to do in Barcelona in December? Read on for our Runner Bean personal recommendations.
Post updated in November 2019. The update with 2020 activities will be published soon.
Events and Festivals in Barcelona in December 2019
Christmas Lights (daily in December)
Not to be missed is the switching on of the Christmas Lights, “els llums de Nadal”. This year it takes place at Plaça de Can Fabra (Sant Andreu) on November 28th from 5.30pm to 6:30pm. The theatre company Dagoll Dagom are the one in charge of the show this time around bringing to life fairy tale characters.
Once lit for the season you can enjoy strolling around the city, hot chocolate & churros in hand, seeing which streets are your favourites.
Fira de Santa Llúcia (29th November to 23rd December)
The 230-year-old glittering market of Santa Llúcia dates back to 1786. What started as two separate fairs, selling cribs and plants soon merged into one becoming Barcelona’s most famous Christmas market.
El Pessebre, the nativity scene, is still a very popular tradition and this is where families go to buy all they need. Locals and tourists alike enjoy 280 stalls selling nativity scenes and figures, Christmas decorations and lights, greenery and local craft. You can enjoy it every day from 11am to 8.30pm (extended timetable on public holidays).
Check out this video from Barcelona Blonde for a peek of what this Christmas Market looks like.
Els Pastorets is a very old Christmas performance that means “the Little Shepherds”. It comprises of three stories that are played out, starting with the birth of Jesus. Performances of Els Pastorets are staged all around Barcelona in December and are almost as important as the Passions. Try and catch one of the performances in Barcelona to really immerse yourself in the Catalan culture.
Magic Fountain (Thursday to Saturday in December)
The spectacle at Magic Fountain is a must at this time of year. With Christmas around the corner, the magical light and music show feels all the more special. Being December, the crowds that usually pack it out aren’t there so you can enjoy it without the squash! At this time of the year, shows take place from Thursday to Saturday starting at 8pm.
Ice Skating (daily in December)
Even though it doesn’t usually snow in Barcelona in December you can still do a bit of festive ice skating in a few locations.
If you are Christmas shopping, then take full advantage and head to L’Illa Diagonal. This is a large shopping mall which also provides a temporary Christmas rink around the festive season. A little away from the tourist areas, it is easily reached with buses and trams. The ice rink opens from 29th November to December 20th.
Alternatively, if you are planning a trip to the F.C Barcelona Museum, then you might want to double up and visit their all year around ice rink.
Who doesn’t love the circus! Started in 1973, Circ Raluy is still a family run affair. This is a truly wonderful (animal free) treat for all the family and delivers exactly would you would expect from the circus. Marvel at the high flying trapeze artists and giggle with the clowns.
Music during Christmas at Barcelona’s landmarks
Händel’s Messiah (14th December)
If you love choral music this is a classic at Christmas. Every year the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar organises a concert of Händel’s most dramatic work: The Messiah. Unfortunately, this year they won’t be offering it exceptionally. However, there will be a performance of The Messiah in the Auditori Concert Hall by Barcelona Symphony and National Orchestra of Catalonia on December 13th, 14th and 15th. You can see all the information and book tickets on their website here: Handel’s Messiah at the Auditori.
Don’t worry if you have already left Barcelona earlier. You can also enjoy another performance of The Messiah at the stunning Palau de la Musica concert hall. It will be on December 10th at 8pm. Find all the information and book tickets on their website here: Handel’s Messiah at Palau de la Musica.
Misa del gallo y El cant de la Sibil•la (24th December)
Misa del Gallo would be the equivalent to your Midnight Mass and is held every year in the beautiful Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar on Christmas Eve. It includes El cant de la Sibil•la, the Song of the Sibyl, a Gregorian chant sung in Catalan churches since Medieval times. Definitely a delights for the senses.
Holy Innocents Day (28th December)
Although tragic in origin and remembering the day infants died at the hand of Herod in Judea, it has long since become the day of practical jokes. April’s Fools Day if you will. Pranks are very common that day so you will need a bit of common sense and eyes at the back of your head!
L’Home dels Nassos (31st December)
The Man of Noses (L’Home dels Nassos) is one of the most legendary characters of the Catalan mythology. This chap boasts as many noses as the year has days! As you can imagine he begins with an eye watering 365 but loses one every day. Kids love to search him out in crowds imagining a man with hundreds of noses but of course by December 31st he has just one remaining! So if anyone gives you a nose, you now know why!
In this video, the L’Home dels Nassos walks around the streets of Barcelona on the last day of the year cracking a smile out of young and old. Hopefully you will catch him too.
Cursa dels Nassos (31st December)
If you’ve overindulged over Christmas you might want to work some of those calories off. How does signing up for an evening 10km run sound? People love to dress up and this is a traditional way bid adeu to the year. Watching is lots of fun too and a cool way to start your New Years Eve celebrations.
Barcelona Weather in December
Beautiful, crisp sunny days are what you should expect in December. Daytime temperatures range from around 9ºC dipping to 0ºC at night. It’s cold for sure but often during the late mornings in the right sunny spot you’ll find yourself taking the hats and coats off.
If you want to know what the weather is like outside the winter months, the people at Barcelona Explorers have created a nice post for weather in Barcelona all year round.
Accommodation and queues
Accommodation remains reasonable price-wise at the start of the month but naturally rises the closer you get to Christmas. Sagrada Familia and other Gaudí attractions are open over the Christmas days though just in the mornings. As you would expect most tourist attractions are closed on December 25th & 26th and January 1st.
I hope this post was helpful with your planning if you are visiting Barcelona in December. Remember that we close for holidays on December 24th, 25th & 26th and January 1st so there will be no Walking Tours or Private Tours running on those dates. Staying for a bit longer? Take a look at our articles of activities for November and things to do in Barcelona in January. Also, don’t forget to check our comprehensive article on what to do in Barcelona all year round. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!
Post updated in November 2019
Main photograph: Christmas market in Barcelona by Joan ggk
Chris Crutchfield says
This has been very helpful! We will be traveling to Barcelona for the first time in December. Our son will be there studying abroad for the fall semester.
I am very much interested in securing tickets or getting additional information on the Handel’s Messiah on Dec. 13/14 at the Santa Maria del mar. I haven’t had any luck on finding information other than what you have posted here.
Gorka Regidor says
This post is for December 2018 (I mention this at the beginning of the article). Some of the events are still valid for December 2019 (Cursa dels Nassos, Fira de Santa Llúcia…) but a couple of them haven’t announced yet the programme. One of them is Handel’s Messiah at Santa Maria del Mar. We will update the post after the Summer when, hopefully, more information will be available. Please check again around October.