Christmas in Barcelona feels a little different than in other parts of Europe. The weather is mild, which for this native Angeleno is a plus because as we all know, snow is totally overrated. Santa Claus and his elves and reindeer give way to other quirky Christmas characters and traditions, and give Spain its own unique charm and make Christmas in the Catalan capital one that you won’t soon forget.

For Christmas in Barcelona, Santa and his elves give way to other quirky characters and traditions, making Christmas in the Catalan capital one that you won’t soon forget. Photo credit: Monique White

Tio de Nadal

Tió de Nadal, or Cago Tió as it’s more commonly is a poop log.  This curious regional tradition in which a hollow log is painted with a smiley face and put in the home on December 8. From December 8 until Christmas Eve, children feed Tió daily and on Christmas, the kids beat the log with sticks and sing a song, then – SURPRISE! – presents appear in the hollow of the log. So basically, Cago Tió poops presents. Poop and presents. Is there any wonder why kids love him?

There’s also a giant Tió de Nadal is located at Plaça Nova.

Caga Tió is a quirky Catalan Christmas character that gives Spanish Christmas markets its own unique charm. Photo credit: Monique White

Caga Tió is a quirky Catalan Christmas character that gives Spanish Christmas markets its own unique charm. Photo credit: Monique White

El Caganer

Placed in the middle of the nativity scene is a figurine with his pants down, butt cheeks exposed, ready to relieve himself. While it might seem crass to the uninitiated, those in the know aren’t offended. El Caganer,  which translates to the pooper, is symbolic of a pagan ritual of fertilizing the soil and is considered good luck.

Spain’s quirky yet sacred Christmas character, El Caganer. Photo credit: Monique White

Spain’s quirky Christmas character, El Caganer in the likeness of famous people, such as Obama, Madonna, Freddie Mercury, and The Joker. Photo credit: Monique White

El Caganer is seen over the city during the holidays, and in addition to the traditional figurine dressed as a Catalan peasant, there are also versions in the likeness of famous people, such as Obama, Madonna, Freddie Mercury, and The Joker.

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Nativity Scenes (Pessebres)

Nativity scenes are found all around Barcelona, however, the largest and most impressive one is at Plaça Sant Jaume. The Plaça Sant Jaume pessebre is usually a non-traditional take on the subject and typically draws both crowds and criticism.

A giant dining table, with the chairs decorated to represent the nativity characters is a larger-than-life modern take on the nativity scene. Photo credit: Monique White

Years past have seen the pessebre consist of children’s pop-up books, life on Barcelona’s rooftops with the traditional characters given a modern twist, and a giant dining table, with the chairs decorated to represent the nativity characters.

Fira de Santa Llucía

Fira de Santa Llucía is located in front of Barcelona Cathedral in the gothic quarter. Started in 1786, Fira de Santa Llucía is Barcelona’s oldest Christmas market, and with nearly 300 stalls, it’s also the biggest.

Fira de Santa Llúcia is Barcelona’a largest Christmas market and located in front of Barcelona’s cathedral in the Gothic quarter. Photo credit: Monique White

Fira de Nadal Sagrada Familia 

With only 120 stalls, the traditional Christmas market at Sagrada Familia is small but unbelievably impressive with Gaudí’s masterpiece looming over it.

Gaudí’s impressive masterpiece looms over the small Christmas market at Sagrada Familia.

Christmas Trees

There are a number of Christmas trees around Barcelona, however, none are as grand as the towering fir found at Plaça Sant Jaume.

The towering fir Christmas tree found at Plaça Sant Jaume.Photo credit: Monique White

3 Kings Parade (Cavalcada dels Reis)

January 5th is the Night of the Three Kings who arrive on camels and leave gifts for children. Rowdy crowds who await gifts and candy greet the Three Kings.

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Montjuic Magic Fountain

See the magic fountain spray and sway to your favorite Christmas music. There will also be a special rendition for New Year’s Eve and on January 5th for the Three King’s Parade.

 Spectacular ilums de Nada (Christmas lights) can be found in nearly 400 locations around Barcelona. Photo credit: Monique White

Christmas Lights

You will find spectacular ilums de Nada (Christmas lights) in nearly 400 locations around Barcelona, but the ones along the famous pedestrian street, La Rambla are not to be missed.

 Spectacular ilums de Nada (Christmas lights) can be found in nearly 400 locations around Barcelona. Photo credit: Monique White

 

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Plaça de Catalunya 

Barcelona’s main square hosts a popular Christmas festival that is a favorite of families. There is a large range of recreational, cultural and sports activities, as well as a toyshop, that makes this market a favorite of families.

Barcelona’s main square, Plaça de Catalunya, plays host to a popular Christmas festival that is a favorite of families. Photo credit: Monique White

Christmas Poble Espanyol 

Barcelona’s open-air museum turns into a Christmas theme park for kids, complete with Santa Claus, whose house they can visit and personally hand him their wish list, as well as the traditional Catalan Cago Tió.

For Christmas in Barcelona, Santa and his elves give way to other quirky characters and traditions, making Christmas in the Catalan capital one that you won’t soon forget. Photo credit: Monique White

The Light of Sant Pau

The facade of the Art Nouveau Site is illuminated with special Christmas lighting in a show that pays tribute to the winter solstice. There is also a Christmas concert with students from the local music academy, and a musical storytelling version of Tchaikovsky’s ‘The Nutcracker’.

 

For more information regarding dates and times for the various Christmas activities in Barcelona,

visit the Tourist Guide Barcelona website.

 

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