It is not a winter wonderland in Barcelona, but that doesn’t mean that it is less of a festive city. Christmas season in Barcelona simply makes the city shine. It is adorned with lights in the streets and the Christmas Markets bring an additional buzz to the already lively city with three Christmas Markets.
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The Feria de Santa Llúcia
The most traditional and longest running market in Barcelona is the Feria de Santa Llúcia (Fair of Saint Lucia). This is the largest market in Barcelona and has been increasing the Christmas spirit since 1786. This year it is celebrating its 230th anniversary. It is located in Plaza de la Catedral (Plaza Nova) in the Gothic Quarter in the heart of Barcelona. This wonderful market has the magnificent Gothic Cathedral, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, located right beside it. Walking through this market feeling the buzz of the Christmas shoppers and the smell of the pine trees, you can’t help but feel the Christmas spirit in the air. Locals come here to buy Christmas trees, decorations, and traditional nativity scene figurines of all sizes. There are also several stalls with clothing from scarfs and hats to mittens, hand-made jewelry, and crafts. This market runs from November 25th to December 23rd. Hours are Monday to Thursday 10:30 am to 8:30 pm and 10:30 am to 9:30 pm from Friday to Sunday.
Feria de Navidad de la Sagrada Familia
The Feria de Navidad de la Sagrada Familia (Christmas Market Avenida de Gaudi) is located in the Sagrada Familia neighborhood in Eixample. This market is much smaller than The Feria de Santa Llúcia; however, it still has many of the traditional Christmas decorations and items. The backdrop to this market could not be more beautiful with the Sagrada Familia right behind it. Founded in 1962 as an extension of The Feria de Santa Llúcia it is divided into 4 areas; Christmas trees and plants; Christmas decorations and traditional figures; crafts, jewelry, clothing, and gifts; and food. Enjoy the sparkling Christmas decoration, smell of the fresh pine and tastes of the candy and treats at this market. The market runs from November 26th to December 23rd. Hours are 10:00 am to 9:00 pm Monday to Friday and 10:00 am to 10:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Fira de Reis de la Gran Vía
The Fira de Reis de la Gran Vía (Christmas market of Gran Vía) is divided into two different sections, the toy market and the craft market. It is located on Gran Vía, with the toy market located towards Carrer de Muntaner near Plaza Catalunya and the craft market is located towards Carrer de Entença near Plaza España. In its first celebration in 1877, it only had 18 stalls and only sold toys and sweets. Today the market is made up of about 200 stalls, including many full of gifts and crafts. The two busiest days for this market are December 26th (St. Stephen’s Day) and January 5th/6th (evening of Reis). This market runs from December 21st to January 6th. Hours are from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm daily, and on its last night, the market stays open until 3:00 am.
Caga Tió Tradition – The Catalan Christmas log
Caga Tió is a tradition in the Catalonian region of Spain. I know it is not a market, but the number of these logs available at all the markets is astounding, so I thought it would be good to add an unusual tradition that goes along with the markets. Caga means ‘poop’ and Tio mean ‘tree trunk’ so it means ‘pooping tree trunk’. Caga Tió is also known as Tió de Nadal. This hollow log is up to 30 cm (11.8 in) long, with two front legs, has a large happy face painted on it, and a sock hat.
It appears in homes on December 8th, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Children keep their pet log, feeding it traditional Christmas food, and covering it with a red blanket to keep it warm so it will poop out presents. It is kept until Christmas eve when the family gathers around it singing and the children beat it with sticks so it will poop the presents. After beating the log, the children must go to their room and pray for the Tio to deliver a lot of presents. What kind of presents does it poop? Small ones, like nuts, dried fruit, candy, and confections. When the Caga Tió is finished pooping presents, it poops either an onion, garlic or a salt herring. The parents then call the children back to the room, they uncover the log and the entire family enjoys the presents.
Enjoy the pleasures of Christmas in a warm city
The Christmas markets in Barcelona are substantially smaller than the grand markets in Germany. However, with smaller markets come smaller crowds. It is magical to see the sparkling streetlights, the local traditions, smell the fresh pine, and eat the traditional Christmas foods. It may not be a winter wonderland; Christmas in Barcelona is it is not nearly as cold as it is in many of the northern countries, but it is still just as beautiful and festive.