You could probably use the word ‘festive’ to describe the atmosphere in Barcelona all year round, just not always in the Christmassy sense of the word. It’s true there is almost always something celebratory going on, from neighbourhood festivals throughout summer to the huge annual La Mercè festival in September. There’s plenty to tide you over until Christmas, but that doesn’t mean Barcelona isn’t also full of extra festive spirit from November onwards. Here are the top five ways to get Christmas started early:
1. Watch the Christmas lights being turned on
This is something that should not be missed if you want to feel really Christmassy. Every year, the Christmas light turn-on happens around the third week of November. There’s a show with music and dance, followed by a short speech (good practice for your Catalan!) The event is a lovely way to feel part of the community, and it’s events like these which really make you feel part of life in Spain.
2. Go to a Christmas festival
Is it really Christmas if you don’t find a festival with mulled wine, food trucks and Love Actually? Oso Winter Fest is one of the events offered by Oso Festivals over the course of the year. Last year, it took place in the grounds of the little church at the top of Poble Espanyol near Montjuïc, a gorgeous location with views across the city. With live music, food and drink, craft stalls, a jazz room, and a showing of Love Actually with blankets provided, there’s no way you won’t feel the Christmas spirit.
3. Grab your Christmas gifts at Palo Alto Market
Palo Alto is a craft market located on the very edge of the Poblenou neighbourhood. Around once a month it opens for a weekend full of music, craft stalls and street food. You can go at any time of the year, but why not look for some unique presents for your loved ones at Christmas? The stalls are all so different, meaning there’s a huge amount on offer in the cutest setting. This is of course just one of the many markets you can find in the city, including Christmas ones selling various traditional gifts!
4. Make the most of ‘Open Days’ at famous buildings
It is quite expensive to visit some of the renowned architectural sites in Barcelona, such as buildings designed by Gaudí. However, keep your eyes peeled for ‘Jornades de Portes Obertes’ which are open days where you can get in for free! Make the most of the colder weather to do some cultural activities inside. One that offers open days at this time of the year is the stunning Palau de la Música Catalana which is just as beautiful on the inside as it is from the outside. Get there early as there will be queues!
5. Go to the beach!
Beaches are not just for summer. Although it gets quite cold in Barcelona in winter, it’s nothing like the cold of being in the UK, so going to the beach on a December evening is still completely acceptable. There is just something so special about watching the early sunset across the sand and sea in December with the sound of the waves crashing on the quiet beach. You may not consider the beach to be the most festive place, but why not take the Christmas spirit there yourself?
Hopefully, this list has shown Barcelona as well-worth a visit at Christmastime with so much on offer. Bon Nadal a tots!
Written by Jessie Read
The UoB Linguist Magazine
Guild of Students,
University of Birmingham