Christmas in Barcelona: Explore Christmas Traditions in Spain & Catalonia

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The beaches of Spain’s Costa Brava are an amazing place to spend the summer, but what about spending Christmas in Barcelona? The Christmas traditions in Spain are fascinating throughout the country, but Barcelona holiday traditions are unique and special in their own ways.

Christmas in Barcelona in December COVER

Christmas in Barcelona

The lights, the tree, and the ornaments — they’re all here. However, Christmas in Barcelona has its own traditions and idiosyncrasies. For example, there are festive Christmas markets in Barcelona. And there are also spectacular nativities and parades. Oh, and did I mention the smiling, pooping wooden log? Below I explain a few of the beautiful and bizarre Spanish holiday traditions you might enjoy when visiting Barcelona at Christmas.

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Christmas in Catalonia: Barcelona Christmas Traditions

Barcelona Christmas traditions are an interesting mix of the conventional with a few that may seem a bit odd when you first hear them. Here are a few things to do in Barcelona at Christmas that you shouldn’t miss. 

Visit Christmas Markets in Barcelona

Christmas Markets Barcelona in December

Barcelona Christmas market - Barcelona in December

There are a number of large and festive Christmas markets in Barcelona set up during the wintertime. Here you’ll find lots of stalls selling decorations, trees, nativity decorations, 3and other traditional Catalonian Christmas items. There are several major Christmas markets in Barcelona. Here are the ones that we recommend. Most of them are open from around 11 am to 10 pm. 

Best Christmas Markets in Barcelona

Best Christmas Markets in Barcelona in December

  • Fira de Santa Llúcia: This is by far the most famous Christmas market in Barcelona. You’ll find it at Place Nova near the Barcelona Cathedral. From November 29 to Dec 23.
  • Fira Nadal de la Sagrada Familia: As the name suggests, this Barcelona Christmas market is set up next to the city’s most famous landmark. From November 29 to Dec 23.
  • Fira de Reis a la Gran Via: Also known as “the Three Kings Fair” and “the 12th nigh fair,” this is one of the largest Christmas markets in Barcelona, which tops out around 300 stalls and loads of kid-friendly activities and toys. And unlike other Barcelona Christmas markets, Fira de Reis a la Gran Via is open until January 6th, when the Three Kings Parade happens (more on that later). 
  • Poble Espanyol‘s Barcelona Christmas Market Event: Poble Espanyol is a Barcelona attraction in itself, replicating traditional Catalonian life and beyond. It also has Catalonian Christmas Market festivities in December, with a variety of events for your perusal. Remember that admission is required and the schedule is different every day. 

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Find Christmas Nativities in Barcelona

Christmas in Barcelona Nativities

Visit Barcelona over Christmas (or anywhere in Spain during the Christmas season), and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see Christmas nativities in all shapes and sizes — including to-scale ones with live people and animals. You’ll find them in churches (naturally), but also shopping centers, public squares, and Christmas markets in Barcelona. No matter your religious preferences, seeing a group of living creatures posing for hours makes an impression.

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Ponder the Caganer: Odd Christmas Traditions in Barcelona

the caganer - bizarre traditions during Christmas in Barcelona

Ok, this may not be for everyone, but our family finds quite a bit of entertainment in bodily functions. Apparently, so do the people of Barcelona and the Catalan people in general. Walk around the Christmas Markets in Barcelona and elsewhere and you’ll start to see a particular figure of a man in traditional clothes. He is squatting and…well…relieving himself. On the ground. It’s fairly explicit. The caganer images you see here are mostly from the front, but I can assure you that the view from the other side hides nothing.

The Squatter: Barcelona Christmas Traditions

Caganer at barcelona christmas market

The act of defecation may seem repulsive to some, but this basic function of life is both necessary and, well, kind of funny. We’ve spent enough time in countries like Japan, Malaysia, and Vietnam to be familiar with the pose. Visit Barcelona at Christmas, and you’ll see figures like this everywhere. Here in Catalonia, this particular image is a sign of good luck. It even shows up in nativity scenes as well! Explore Christmas traditions in Spain and the entire Catalan region and you’ll find it all over. And it’s not just this guy in traditional clothes. Every Barcelona Christmas market sells caganers of just about any public figure in the act of pooping on the ground. I’m not kidding. Apparently, this is a Catalan Christmas tradition, too.

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caganers at barcelona christmas market - christmas in Barcelona

Stalls all over town sell the likenesses of politicians, celebrities, and sports stars — all in the squat position. For example, I’m talking Pablo Picasso, Freddie Mercury, the Dalai Llama, Batman, Donald Trump and C3Po (I’m not exactly sure how that last one would work). See for yourself in the image above. How many do you recognize?

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Giggle at Tió de Nadal (Caga Tio)

caga tio at barcelona christmas market

caga tio on sale at barcelona christmas market

Behold: more cute (but scatological) Barcelona Christmas traditions. Introducing Tió de Nadal, also known as “Caga Tio.” Walk around the Christmas markets in Barcelona and you’ll see logs of wood for sale. These logs have been given a smiley face and red hat. That’s Caga Tio the Catalonian Christmas pooping log…let me explain. Caga Tio sits in the home from December 8th, and every night the kids “feed” him turron, a traditional Spanish holiday sweet made from almonds.

On Christmas Eve, the kids sing a traditional song to the log, as per Catalan tradition. Afterward, the log “poops” out treats that have been hiding underneath the blanket that has been placed over it to ostensibly keep him warm. The blanket is pulled up to reveal the kind of candies and small toys that you might find in a North American Christmas stocking. Christmas traditions in America and elsewhere? We put presents under a tree. Christmas traditions in Spain? Part of a tree poops out presents. 

Take a Barcelona Tour

sagrada familia tours in Barcelona

Amongst the many seasonal things to do in Barcelona in December, the city still has all the attractions that drive people here year-round. As we’ve mentioned before, Barcelona in winter is a great time to visit. In general, the crowds are much smaller than in the summertime. In addition, the weather in Barcelona in December isn’t too cold, and there are plenty of tapas places to grab a bit and warm up.

Sagrada Familia Tours & Fast-Track Tickets

One of the most crowded Barcelona attractions is the Sagrada Familia. Getting a fast-track ticket is even better during Barcelona in December because the lines are shorter. In other words: you spend even less time waiting in the cold (yes, even fast-track tickets have to wait for a few minutes). I’ve waited for Sagrada Familia tickets on a windy November afternoon and it was too cold for me then. I certainly wouldn’t want to do that in December. 

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Parc Güell Skip-the-Line Tickets

The Sagrada Familia is not the only Gaudi attraction worth seeing during Christmas in Barcelona. Parc Güell is also just as colorful and dynamic during December in Barcelona as it is in July. And it’s recommended to buy tickets ahead of time since they are timed entrances. In other words, if you just show up, you may stand in line for an hour, only to get tickets for a few hours later. Buy your tickets ahead of time and simply show up at the designated time. Once inside, you are free to stay as long as you like. 

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Camp Nou Tour: Home of FC Barcelona

Football/soccer fans should already have this on their list of things to do in Barcelona at Christmas. Camp Nou is the stadium of the infamous FC Barcelona, a team where legends like Cruyff, Maradona, Ronaldinho, Neymar, and Messe made sports history. The interactive exhibits and sports memorabilia are staggering, and I’m not even a huge fan like my son, who was awestruck. Book your tickets ahead of time so you can just walk in when you arrive.

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Paella Cooking Classes & Boqueria Market Tour

What would Barcelona holidays be without a generous helping of the country’s signature dish? Sure you can just order paella for lunch one day, but a Spanish cooking lesson would make for better memories don’t you think? In this lesson, you’ll go to the famous La Boqueria Market with a chef to pick up ingredients. Then you’ll sample tapas and sangria as you watch him make the dish for you. All recipes are given at the end. What could be better for a Barcelona holiday meal?  

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Look for La Carassa de Nadal

Okay, so this Barcelona Christmas tradition might be just a little bit racist (or maybe more than a little?). La Carassa de Nadal creature is a model of a Moor with over-exaggerated, features, and it’s still pushed around some of the Christmas markets in Barcelona. Like an ice cream truck through a residential neighborhood, it’s preceded by music and stalked by children. His distribution of sweets, however, is somewhat unique: candies are projected from his mouth!

Welcome Three Kings to Town

Barcelona Christmas traditions -  three kings parade -

So you want to experience Christmas in Barcelona, but would prefer to spend December 25th at home? You’re in luck. Christmas traditions in Spain stretch into January, and the actual gift-giving time is January 5th and 6th. On the evening of January 5th, there are large parades in Spanish cities to welcome the three kings. These are the three wise men from the biblical Christmas story. I grew up remembering them for bringing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. As per Christmas traditions in Spain, the wise men also serve as Santa Claus. The parades are a lot of fun, too. Your kids can expect to catch at least a few pieces of candy. Don’t forget to bring a bag to carry all the candy you’ll catch. In fact, in Valencia, we saw some clever kids using an upside-down umbrella to catch more candy as it fell.

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Barcelona in December – Christmas Weather in Barcelona

Christmas weather in Barcelona in December is pretty good. Expect highs around 14ºC/60ºF and lows around 5ºC/41ºF. Most days are sunny, with little precipitation throughout the month. It’s often ideal walking weather. If you come for Christmas in Barcelona or to experience any Christmas traditions in Spain, bring warm clothes because it gets cold after dark. That said, Christmas weather in Barcelona in December is often quite sunny in the afternoons.

Have You Spent Christmas in Barcelona?

Have you experienced Barcelona holidays like Christmas? What did you do? Where did you stay? Did you experience any of these Christmas traditions in Spain? Or do you have any to add? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or feel free to contact me directly.

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Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you,  we might receive a small commission if you make a purchase or book a room for visiting Barcelona during Christmas using those links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help you enjoy Christmas in Barcelona, and winter in Catalonia.

Photo Credits via Creative Commons CC BY or other Royalty-free image sites. Some images may have been altered slightly via cropping or color enhancement: #1, #7, #13


  1. Barcelona is so amazing for the Christmas holidays! I wasn’t there this time because I was at home in Alicante yet I have spent Christmas in Barcelona before and it’s such fun!