Spending Christmas in Barcelona? Here’s What’s in Store for You

The best traditions, festivities, markets, and events to get in the holiday spirit in Barcelona

Nov 14, 2023
barcelona street with christmas lights and treebarcelona street with christmas lights and tree

“Bon nadal”, as they say in Catalonia. Those heading to Barcelona for the holidays may not be in search of a traditional Christmas experience, with the snow covered ground and sipping on a hot chocolate or mulled wine, but there’s still plenty in store for the holiday season in Spain. There’s some fantastic local traditions to explore as well as special seasonal sights to be seen during the magical time of Barcelona in the winter.

A white Christmas in Barcelona?

Unfortunately, if you’re looking for a white Christmas, Barcelona is not the place to spend the holidays. Barcelona weather in Christmas and winter tends to be more mild as average daytime temperatures fall around 15ºC (60ºF). Of course, there have been some outlier seasons where the mountains behind the city will see some white flakes falling from the sky, but for the most part, if you’re in the city, you can expect clear skies, crisp air, and the occasional rainfall.

Some people may go full speed ahead for this warmer holiday season, by northern hemisphere standards, but for those struggling to grasp the concept of the blue skies of the Barcelona weather during Christmas, there’s always some snowflake lights hanging over the streets that can give a glimpse of the traditional white Christmas.

old man in scarf in barcelona winter

Local traditions

The holiday season can be broken down into three parts in Barcelona: Christmas, New Years, and Epiphany. Each holiday has its own traditions unique to the region that are worth checking out.


Christmas in Barcelona extends for longer than just the day itself. The official Christmas season starts on December 8th with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. From here on you will see nativity scenes around the city. This is also where the “caganer”, or Catalan for “shitter”, comes into play. It’s a figure of a person wearing traditional garments defecating that is put close to the nativity scene to symbolize fertilization and a good harvest.

Of course, after this time comes the actual Christmas celebration. The Catalan tradition revolves around the Tió de Nadal, which is a log with a face that poops presents to children on Christmas Eve. For the rest of us, Christmas in Catalonia usually consists of a large family meal and visiting friends or other relatives to celebrate.

New Years

Whether you’re having a classic Catalan dinner, celebrating at a club, cheersing to the New Year at home, or partying on the streets, this city wide celebration is not one to be missed. In Barcelona, most of the outdoor celebration takes place in Plaça d’Espanya, but there are plenty of other plans that happen around the city for whatever type of celebration you’re feeling.

three people cheersins champagne

In Spain, the proper way to ring in the New Year starts with a 12 second countdown where all people must eat a grape every second until the strike of midnight where a huge cheer and toast with cava takes place.

Día de Reyes (Epiphany)

Taking place on January 6th, this holiday traditionally celebrates the three kings who brought gifts to the baby Jesus, so naturally, el Día de Reyes is the big gift giving day throughout Spain. Today, this holiday is celebrated by going to the parade of the magic kings in the city center as well as enjoying a slice of Roscón de Reyes, a special type of cake with a baby baked inside. This day also marks the end of the holiday season, so life returns to somewhat normal afterwards.

The best Christmas markets of the season

The easiest way to soak up Barcelona in the winter as well as some holiday spirit is to visit some Christmas markets in Barcelona. From nativity scenes, to tiós, to local wines and cheeses, these are Christmas activities in Barcelona that can’t be missed.

The oldest Christmas market in Barcelona is the Fira de Santa Llúcia, located right in front of the Cathedral in the Gothic Quarter. It’s easily accessible from the city center, and provides a magical backdrop for some holiday photos. But, if you want to be wowed by a stereotypically Barcelona market, go to Fira de la Sagrada Família, which is, as the name implies, right outside Gaudí’s masterpiece itself. The Christmas fair at Port Vell is right by the water, and Fira de Reis is along Grand Via, making both of these options perfect for stopping off while taking a winter stroll.

Finding holiday lights

barcelona cathedral christmas market

The minute the Christmas lights turn on around the city, Barcelona becomes a winter wonderland and the magic of the holidays fills the streets. Each year, the city hangs over 4 km of lights that shine on almost every street in every corner of the city. Some of the larger streets, such as Passeig de Gràcia, Gran Via, and Plaça Catalunya have larger displays for all to enjoy. Also, be sure to catch some of Barcelona’s famous architecture, such as Casa Batlló, lit up in celebration of Christmas in Barcelona.

Trying some traditional holiday flavors

One of the big highlights of any holiday celebration is the shared meal and food that goes with the celebration. If you’re spending Christmas in Barcelona, then be sure to check out these Mediterranean delicacies.

A classic Catalan Christmas isn’t complete without escudella and cannelloni. Escudella is a hearty broth with meatballs, pasta, chickpeas, and winter vegetables. Each family makes it a bit different, but it’s the perfect food to warm you up during Barcelona in winter. Cannellonis are tubes of pasta with a filling inside and a cream sauce on top which can be found throughout the season in Barcelona.

Moving on to the desserts we have turrón, neules, and Tortell de Reis. Turrón is a type of nougat that can be enjoyed throughout Spain during the holidays. Neula is a type of Catalan biscuit that’s rolled into a tube shape. This treat for Christmas in Barcelona is normally paired with some holiday cava where some people choose to dip it inside as a sort of straw. We’ve already mentioned the Roscón de Reyes before, which is traditionally eaten on Epiphany, but since you’re spending Christmas day in Barcelona and Epiphany as well, we’ll introduce you to the Catalan name of Tortell de Reis.


Businesses and public transport during the holidays

It’s no secret that Christmas in Barcelona is taken very seriously, so be aware that this may have an impact on the opening times of stores, sights, things to do, and public transportation. It’s likely that most shops and sights will be closed until Christmas Eve, but some places might close early for the holiday. On Christmas day in Barcelona, everything will be closed with the exception of some smaller supermarkets. On the 26th, most things will return to normal, but hours can vary, so be sure to check online for an accurate read.

On New Year’s Day, shops, museums, and sights will be closed. For Día de Reyes on the 6th, everything will be closed again as well, but businesses are less strict on this day, so there may be some sights open. On days between the holidays, you can expect normal, or near normal, hours. Plan your shopping for food and gifts in advance to ensure that everything is settled before holiday closures.

The Barcelona metro schedule is as follows for the holidays. On the 24th of December, trains will run from 5am-11pm. On Christmas day in Barcelona, the metro will run from 5am-2am on Monday morning. In general, nights before public holidays, the service will be from 5am-2am as well. Be sure to take timing into account during Christmas in Barcelona to ensure you can get home easily.

bus in barcelona winter

Holiday apartment rentals in Barcelona

Christmas in Barcelona is an exciting time for all. Even if there is no snow, Barcelona in the winter is a magical time filled with holiday spirit, markets, lights, food, and tradition. If you’re looking to live in Barcelona over the winter holiday season, be sure to check out Ukio for holiday apartment rentals in Barcelona.

We have fully furnished and artfully decorated holiday apartments to rent in Barcelona, designed with your coziness in mind. This way, you can host a successful holiday gathering with your new friends in the Catalan capital this Christmas. Start finding your recipes for escudella and buying your turrón, because Christmas in Barcelona is coming.