This post is for December 2018. The new article with the 2019 events will be published a few weeks beforehand.
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.
- Events and Festivals in Barcelona in December 2018
- Christmas Lights (daily in December)
- Fira de Santa Llúcia (30th November to 23rd December)
- Els Pastorets
- Magic Fountain (Thursday to Saturday in December)
- Ice Skating (daily in December)
- Raluy Circus
- Festive celebrations at Santa Maria del Mar
- Holy Innocents Day (28th December)
- L’Home dels Nassos (31st December)
- Cursa dels Nassos (31st December)
- Barcelona Weather in December
- Accommodation and queues
Events and Festivals in Barcelona in December 2018
Christmas Lights (daily in December)
Not to be missed is the switching on of the Christmas Lights, “els llums de Nadal”. This year this takes place between Rambla de Guipúscoa and Carrer de Julián Besteiro on November 22nd at 7pm. Once lit for the season you can enjoy strolling around the city, hot chocolate & churros in hand seeing which streets are your favourite.
Fira de Santa Llúcia (30th 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 10am 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 La Maquinista. 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 24th November to January 7th.
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.
Festive celebrations at Santa Maria del Mar
Händel’s Messiah (13th & 14th December)
If you love choral music then there is no better place to enjoy this masterpiece than in Santa Maria del Mar. One of the city’s most beautiful churches, this is the most perfect backdrop to Händel’s dramatic work: the Messiah. It will be performed on the 13th and 14th at 9pm. Dress up warm as the church is big and can be cold.
Misa del gallo y El cant de la Sibil•la (24th December)
Misa del Gallo would be the equivalent to our Midnight Mass and also held in 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.
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 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? Check our articles of activities for November and Things To Do In Barcelona In January. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!
Main photograph: Christmas market in Barcelona by Joan ggk