The weeks before Christmas in Barcelona offer so many memorable experiences, with magical festive light shows and events, unique opportunities for Christmas shopping, delicious seasonal food and exciting venues perfect for celebrating—all in pleasant temperate weather.

Festive activities and events

One of the most uplifting things to do in Barcelona in the run-up to Christmas is soaking in the spectacular kaleidoscope of Christmas illuminations. In the heart of the city, locals eagerly await the year’s themed Christmas tree decorations and window displays at the front of the well known department store El Corte Ingles. Shopping streets Portal de L’Angel and the upscale Passeig de Gracia also exhibit outstanding lights and decorations. The Plaça Sant Jaume comes alive—literally—with a large scale nativity scene displaying both traditional and contemporary characters. Music lovers will delight in the light projections at Sant Pau, where a show of dazzling original designs commemorate the coming of the winter solstice.

Christmas markets in Barcelona

Nothing says Christmas in Barcelona like a visit to a typical Mercat de Nadal (christmas market). You’ll find brilliantly decorated stalls offering food, clothing and assorted knick-knacks throughout the city. One of the most popular is Fira de Santa Llúcia, next to the stately Barcelona Cathedral, where mini wood shacks adorned with shimmering lights offer selections of artisanal decorations and other wares. The Sagrada Familia Christmas Fair is also worth a visit, featuring over 100 stalls offering gifts, ornaments and food. You could also browse the market at Plaça Catalunya in the city centre, for sustainable handmade gifts and its light display extravaganza.

Traditional Christmas dishes

Christmas parties in Barcelona are all about savoury and sweet delights served in generous portions. A typical dish is Escudella i Carn d’Olla, a hearty Catalan stew made with large macaroni-shaped pasta and an abundance of meats and vegetables. A regional Christmas roast consists of either chicken or duck as the main, stuffed with pine nuts and prunes. For dessert, the turró, a saccharine nougat bar that comes in a variety of flavourings, including chocolate and almond, is a seasonal must-try. Cava, Catalonia’s sparkling wine, is the local celebratory drink of choice, with decorative Christmas-themed bottles on offer at every turn.

Great venues for Christmas parties in Barcelona

If you’re thinking about planning Christmas parties in Barcelona, some of the city’s iconic buildings offer ideal locations. The classically-styled Palau National, built for the 1929 World’s Fair, features eye-popping event spaces. Antoni Gaudi’s whimsical Modernist masterpiece Casa Batlló can also be let for special occasions. During the holiday season it features a “snow” display, both inside and out. For seafarers, the members-only One Ocean Club is located right on the Marina and serves creative Catalan cuisine.

Looking for noteworthy bars where you can have a Christmas party? Head to Dry Martini, a throwback to a 1940s joint with a wood-panelled bar, brass fixtures and dapperly attired barmen; or stroll to Paradiso, a Modernist speakeasy hidden behind a Pastrami eatery. If you fancy more tropical Christmastime magic, El Bosc de les Fades offers a simulated rainforest complete with trees, waterfalls and a healthy sprinkling of fairy dust.

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