Dec 01 2016

December in Barcelona

 

Barcelona is bustling of events and happenings in December. Christmas reaches every corner of this beautiful city.

 

Photo: Jesús Corrius / Flickr.com

 

Christmas Shopping

 

Fira de Santa Llúcia Christmas Market

This is the biggest and most popular Christmas market in Barcelona. There will be almost 300 market stands, and they are grouped into four sections. The Fira de Santa Llúcia is held in the Gothic Quarter in front of the Cathedral, few steps away from the metro Jaume 1. It’s open from 27th of November until 23rd of December, every day from 10.30 am until 8 pm, except on weekends until 9.30 pm.

More information and details here.

 

Fira de Nadal de la Sagrada Familia

This market with almost 120 market stands is held in front of the Sagrada Familia from late November until Christmas Eve in December, and will be open daily from 10 am until 10 pm.

 

The Three Kings Fair

The Three Kings Fair market is the biggest Christmas and New Years market for toys. It has around 300 market stands, mostly toys but also other traditional “Reyes” gifts.

The market starts in the middle of December and is held until 6th of January, on the street of Gran Via between the streets of Muntaner and Calabria.

 

Also there will be more, smaller Christmas markets in many other squares of Barcelona.

 

Christmas Lights and Trees

There are Christmas lights in almost 400 locations around Barcelona, and they will be turned on from late November until beginning of January.

 

Placa Catalunya

Around Placa Catalunya there will be some of the most impressive Christmas lights. Have a look on the surrounding streets as well, Portal de l’Angel is famous of its light decorations.

Next to Placa Catalunya is the Corte Inglés deparment store, and it’s known from its impressive Christmas lights. The shopping center is usually decorating the whole outside wall with spectacular lights.

 

Las Ramblas

From Placa Catalunya you can walk all the way down to the sea along the Las Ramblas walking street. The theme of the Christmas lights will vary every year, so you can never know in advance what kind of lights there will be.

Stop by the surrounding areas of Sant Antoni market, there will be some impressive lights, too.

 

Magic Fountain in Montjüic

The Magic Fountain has a special Christmas light and sound show every Friday and Saturday from November to the early January. The shows starts at 19, 19.30 and 20 pm, and lasts 30 minutes each.

 

Placa Espanya, neighborhood of Vila de Gracia, Torre Agbar, and streets of Ronda de Sant Pere and Passeig de Gracia are also usually having beautiful and plentiful Christmas decoration.

 

Christmas trees

On Avenida Portal de l'Angel in front of the Corte Inglés shopping center is the Barcelona's biggest Christmas tree

Another famous Christmas tree is placed on Placa de Sant Jaume in the Gothic Quarter. From there you will also find one of the Barcelona's official Nativity Scenes, "pessembre" in Catalan.

 

Photo: Fabricio de Paula / Flickr.com

 

Things to do and see in Christmas

Caganer

“The pooping man”, is a Catalan Christmas tradition. It often is as a character in the Catalonian Nativity Scenes and it is children’s fun to find the figure from there. The poop of the Caganer is said to bring good luck, as it fertilizes the earth, and along with that brings good luck for the New Year.

 

Caga Tió

Caga Tió, also known as Tió de Nadal, is a “poop log” which poops Christmas presents for the children. They feed the log every evening with Turrón, and keep him warm with a red blanket. On Christmas Eve the children hit the log with sticks and sing a special song, so Caga Tió would poop the Christmas presents.

 

Circ Raluy Barcelona

The Circ Raluy circus is a Christmas tradition in Barcelona, and it brings a new show every year. It is a historic travelling circus and it also has a museum of old circus caravans. The Circ Raluy takes place in Port Vell and will stay there from December to January.

From here you can read more and buy your tickets to the shows.

 

Placa Catalunya Christmas celebrations

On Placa Catalunya there will be light and sound shows featuring the fountains, and many family activities. Usually there has been freezed an ice-skating rink from December to January, and it has been open during the Christmas.

 

Three Kings Parade

“Día de los Reyes Magos” is celebrated 5th of January and it’s the biggest Christmas celebration in all over Spain. In Barcelona it’s celebrated with a big parade trough the city.

Although the public holiday and day for opening the Christmas presents is January 6th, is the 5th the day when the Three Wise Man arrives to Barcelona and large focus of the celebrations is then. In the parade the Three Kings throws sweets and gifts to the children, while everyone is on the streets welcoming them back from their long journey to the East.

 

Nativity Scenes

“Pessebre” is the Catalan name for the Christmas Nativity Scenes. The Nativity Scenes are a big part of Catalonian Christmas traditions.

 

Plaça de Sant Jaume

The Barcelona’s main Nativity Scene is built up every year on Plaça de Sant Jaume, outside the town hall. It is different every year and the biggest one in Barcelona, taking almost a quarter’s space of the square.

You can see the Nativity Scene from late November until 6th of January and it is open daily from 10 am to 9 pm.

 

Poble Espanyol

In Poble Espanyol, the Spanish Village in Montjüic, you can see a living Nativity Scene. The streets of the village are turned to a living Nativity Scene, and everywhere is put beautiful Christmas decorations. Poble Espanyol is a very nice attraction especially for kids.

From here you can read more.

 

Photo: Keith Williamson / Flickr.com

 

Traditional Christmas food

Escudella i Carn d’olla and Galets

This is a traditional soup made during the Christmas period. It is often eaten as a starter. Escudella i Carn d’Olla is made of a large piece of meat being cooked for hours, to ensure it is thick and good for a soup. When the meat is ready, it is removed from the soup and replaced with Gallets. Gallets are snail-shell shaped pasta.

The meat which was cooked with the pasta is later been eaten as a main dish. Most Spanish households enjoy it with various tapas dishes.

Here you can see the recipe for Escudella i Carn d’olla.

 

Turrón

Turrón is a traditional sweet made of nougat. You can buy it from almost everywhere in Barcelona. The most popular taste variation during the Christmas period is made of nougat and almonds, but you will find many other delicious variations also.

If you want to enjoy homemade Turróns, check out this recipe.

 

El Pa de Nadal

The Christmas bread of Catalonia is called El Pa de Nadal. You can buy it almost everywhere in Barcelona, and enjoy it with the Christmas dinner.

 

El Roscón de Reyes

This cake is always served on the Three Kings Day. It is a ring-shaped cake, and inside the cake are traditionally baked two family-activity objects: a dry green bean and a figure of a king. When the cake is served, everyone checks their pieces. The one who got the king figure can use a crown for the evening, and the one with the bean have to pay the dinner.

You will find the recipe for the El Roscón de Reyes here.

 

Catalan New Years traditions

It is common to eat lentils for lunch on New Years’ Eve. Every lentil is representing a coin, and it is said that eating them brings good luck and wealth for the coming year.

When it is almost midnight and the clock chimes twelve times, it is a tradition to eat twelve grapes. One grape should be eaten on every each chime. This is surprisingly difficult! It is said that if you can eat all the twelve grapes on time, it brings you good luck for the coming year.

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Nov 21 2016

December in Madrid

 

Christmas period is full of events and happenings in Madrid, and the busiest time of year in the city.

 

Photo: José Ibañez / Flickr.com

 

Christmas Shopping

During the Christmas period in Madrid there will be many Christmas markets. The largest ones are held on Plaza Mayor and Plaza de España.

 

Plaza Mayor

The biggest and most important Christmas market is held on Plaza Mayor in the centre of Madrid. From this market you will find everything you need: Christmas decorations, food, traditional Christmas products, and crafts.

Christmas market on Plaza Mayor is going on from 26th of November until 31st of December, and it’s open from Mondays to Fridays from 10 am to 9 pm, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 10 pm.

 

Plaza de España

This market is concentrated on artisanal and handmade crafts, and it’s also known as the Community of Madrid Craft Fair. It’s famous for the quality of the products. From the market you will find different kind of pottery, leather work, manufactures of toys, and much more.

Plaza de España’s Christmas market will be open from 10th of December to 5th of January. Daily opening hours are from 11 am to 9 pm.

 

On the other squares around Madrid will be smaller Christmas markets and shopping possibilities. Have a look on Gran Vía, Callao, Plaza Opera, Puerta del Sol and Plaza Jacinto Benavente.

 

Christmas lights and trees

The Christmas lights in Madrid will be turned on in late November, and their shine will brighten the streets and squares up until early January. This year the lights have been designed by a group of fashion designers, architects, and a graphic designer. Have a special look on Puerta de Alcalá gate and Palacio de Cibeles.

Christmas trees and artworks will be put up on all strategic points around the city. Some of the Christmas trees have traditionally been built so you can even explore them from inside!

 

Things to do and see in Christmas

Christmas Bus

One way to see and enjoy the Christmas lights of Madrid is to hop on the Christmas bus. The bus travels along the main streets of Madrid for 40 to 50 minutes, and during the tour you will see all the most beautiful Christmas lights. The route has only one stop on Plaza de Colón, and it’s the only place to hop on and off the bus. The Christmas bus is operating from beginning of December until 6th of January.

 

Ice Skating rinks

During the Christmas period in Madrid many of the squares are turned into ice-skating rinks, or markets. Check out Plaza de Jacinto Benavente, Plaza de Santa Cruz, and Plaza de España.

 

Photo: Contando Estrelas / Flickr.com

 

Three Kings Parade

Epiphany day and the celebration of the Three Kings is 6th of January. This is the most important day of Spanish Christmas. The Three Kings Day is celebrated with a big parade trough the city. The parade starts at 6.30 pm from Plaza de San Juan de la Cruz, and continues to Paseo de la Castellana, and from there to Plaza de Cibeles. At Plaza de Cibeles the Three Kings will deliver a message to all Spanish children.

In the evening of the Three Kings Day is a tradition to eat a dessert called Roscón de Reyes.

 

Nativity Scenes

In Madrid there will be many Nativity Scenes around the city. Here are listed the biggest ones.

 

Belén en el Museo de Historia

At Museo de Historia of Madrid is going to be a Nativity Scene from 9th December until 1st of February. This year they are presenting a Neapolitan crib from the 18th century. It is one of the most valuable sculptural ensembles from collection of the Museo de Historia.

 

Belén CentroCentro Cibeles

At CentroCentro Cibeles will be presented a Nativity Scene made by craftsman José Luis Mayo. The exhibition is open from 27th November until 10th of January.

 

Belén del Ayuntamiento del Madrid

At the city hall of Madrid will be a Nativity Scene from 8th of December until 10th of January.

 

Belén del Museo de San Isidro, Los Orígenes de Madrid

The Museo de Los Orígenes de Madrid presents a magnificent Nativity Scene called “Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar. The Three Wise Men in the 19th Century”. It is a work from sculptor Donémenc Talar i Ribot, and polychromed by Mariano Fortuny i Marsal.

 

Photo: Jorge Díaz / Flickr.com

 

Traditional Christmas food

Roscón de Reyes

This is a sweet pastry and traditionally eaten as a dessert in the evening of Three Kings Day. In the cake is usually baked a green bean, and a tiny figure of the king. The one who gets the bean is supposed to pay for the dinner, and the one with the figure can use a crown for the last of the evening.

A recipe for Roscón de Reyes here.

 

Turrón

Turrónes are popular Spanish sweets, and traditionally made of nougat. These days there are many different kinds of flavors.

If you want to taste homemade Turrónes, you can try this recipe.

 

Mantecados and Polvorones

Mantecados and Polvorones are oven-baked cookies, and traditionally made of almonds. The cookies are crumbly, and the texture is soft.

Recipes for the Mantecados and Polvorones here.

 

New Years traditions

The most famous tradition on New Year’s Eve is to eat 12 grapes when the clock chimes twelve times on the midnight. This is said to be bringing good luck. Thousands of people gets together to Puerta del Sol square to celebrate the New Year and eat the grapes.

New Year’s night is long, and Madrid really doesn’t go to sleep in any point. People, music, and merrymakers are on the streets until the morning.

 

San Silvestre Vallecana

San Silvestre Vallecana is a traditional sports event. It has been organized in Madrid every New Year’s Eve since 1964. It is a 10 kilometers race, and fancy dresses and artificial snow plays a big role in it. Earlier in the afternoon is the amateur race, and after that is a competition for professional athletes. If you want to join the race, be sure you sign up early. The places run out fast!

More information here.

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Nov 11 2016

Christmas Food and Restaurants in Barcelona

 

Christmas period is time for enjoying plentiful meals with family and friends. The most important dinner is eaten on 26th of December.

 

Photo: Nacho / Flickr.com

 

Traditional Catalan Christmas dishes

Escudella i Carn d’olla and Galets

This is a traditional soup made during the Christmas period. It is often eaten as a starter. Escudella i Carn d’Olla is made of a large piece of meat being cooked for hours, to ensure it is thick and good for a soup. When the meat is ready, it is removed from the soup and replaced with Gallets. Gallets are snail-shell shaped pasta.

The meat which was cooked with the pasta is later been eaten as a main dish. Most Spanish households enjoy it with various tapas dishes.

Here you can see the recipe for Escudella i Carn d’olla.

 

Turrón

Turrón is a traditional sweet made of nougat. You can buy it from almost everywhere in Barcelona. The most popular taste variation during the Christmas period is made of nougat and almonds, but you will find many other delicious variations also.

If you want to enjoy homemade Turróns, check out this recipe.

 

El Pa de Nadal

The Christmas bread of Catalonia is called El Pa de Nadal. You can buy it almost everywhere in Barcelona, and enjoy it with the Christmas dinner.

 

Photo: Keith Williamson / Flickr.com

 

Catalan New Years traditions

It is common to eat lentils for lunch on New Years’ Eve. Every lentil is representing a coin, and it is said that eating them brings good luck and wealth for the coming year.

When it is almost midnight and the clock chimes twelve times, it is a tradition to eat twelve grapes. One grape should be eaten on every each chime. This is surprisingly difficult! It is said that if you can eat all the twelve grapes on time, it brings you good luck for the coming year.

 

Three Kings Day

El Roscón de Reyes is always served on the Three Kings Day. It is a ring-shaped cake, and inside the cake are traditionally baked two family-activity objects: a dry green bean and a figure of a king. When the cake is served, everyone checks their pieces. The one who got the king figure can use a crown for the evening, and the one with the bean have to pay the dinner.

You will find the recipe for the El Roscón de Reyes here.

 

Restaurants

Not all restaurants in Barcelona are open on 24th, 25th, or 26th of December. It is recommended to contact the restaurant earlier, and ask for the Christmas opening times. It is also recommended to do a table reservation couple of weeks in advance – and to get ready for higher prices.

Here you can find some restaurants in Barcelona with a Christmas menu.

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Nov 11 2016

Christmas Lights and Trees in Barcelona

 

The Christmas lights in Barcelona are called “Els llums de Nadal” in Catalan. They are turned on every year by the mayor of the city.

 

Photo: Jesús Corrius / Flickr.com

 

The main Christmas lights

There are Christmas lights in almost 400 locations around Barcelona, and they will be turned on from late November until beginning of January.

 

Placa Catalunya

Around Placa Catalunya there will be some of the most impressive Christmas lights. Have a look on the surrounding streets as well, Portal de l’Angel is famous of its light decorations.

Next to Placa Catalunya is the Corte Inglés deparment store, and it’s known from its impressive Christmas lights. The shopping center is usually decorating the whole outside wall with spectacular lights.

 

Las Ramblas

From Placa Catalunya you can walk all the way down to the sea along the Las Ramblas walking street. The theme of the Christmas lights will vary every year, so you can never know in advance what kind of lights there will be.

Stop by the surrounding areas of Sant Antoni market, there will be some impressive lights, too.

 

Placa Espanya and streets of Ronda de Sant Pere and Passeig de Gracia are also usually having beautiful and plentiful Christmas decoration.

 

Photo: Núria / Flickr.com

 

Other places where to see Christmas lights

Magic Fountain in Montjüic

The Magic Fountain has a special Christmas light and sound show every Friday and Saturday from November to the early January. The shows starts at 19, 19.30 and 20 pm, and lasts 30 minutes each.

 

Neighborhood of Vila de Gracia

All the authentic, narrow streets of Gracia neighborhood will be decorated with different Christmas lights.

 

Torre Agbar

The building is having a special light decoration and show in the evenings during the Christmas period. 

 

Christmas trees

On Avenida Portal de l'Angel in front of the Corte Inglés shopping center is the Barcelona's biggest Christmas tree

Another famous Christmas tree is placed on Placa de Sant Jaume in the Gothic Quarter. From there you will also find one of the Barcelona's official Nativity Scenes, "pessembre" in Catalan.

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Nov 11 2016

Christmas Traditions in Barcelona

 

Catalan Christmas starts officially 8th of December, when the households put the Christmas decorations on place. The traditions are based on spending time with family and friends, good food, and Catalonian specialties.

 

Photo: Contando Estrelas / Flickr.com

 

Three Kings Parade

“Día de los Reyes Magos” is celebrated 5th of January and it’s the biggest Christmas celebration in all over Spain. In Barcelona it’s celebrated with a big parade trough the city.

Although the public holiday and day for opening the Christmas presents is January 6th, is the 5th the day when the Three Wise Man arrives to Barcelona and large focus of the celebrations is then. In the parade the Three Kings throws sweets and gifts to the children, while everyone is on the streets welcoming them back from their long journey to the East.

 

El Cant de la Sibil·la and midnight mass

On Christmas Eve 24th of December just before midnight in Basílica de Santa Maria del Mar is possible to hear a five minutes lasting song “El Cant de la Sibil·la”. It is part of the midnight mass in the church.

The midnight mass is called “La Misa del Gallo”, and you can attend it in many churches around Barcelona.

 

Photo: jqmj (Queralt) / Flickr.com

 

Nativity Scenes

“Pessebre” is the Catalan name for the Christmas Nativity Scenes. The Nativity Scenes are a big part of Catalonian Christmas traditions.

 

Plaça de Sant Jaume

The Barcelona’s main Nativity Scene is built up every year on Plaça de Sant Jaume, outside the town hall. It is different every year and the biggest one in Barcelona, taking almost a quarter’s space of the square.

You can see the Nativity Scene from late November until 6th of January and it is open daily from 10 am to 9 pm.

 

Poble Espanyol

In Poble Espanyol, the Spanish Village in Montjüic, you can see a living Nativity Scene. The streets of the village are turned to a living Nativity Scene, and everywhere is put beautiful Christmas decorations. Poble Espanyol is a very nice attraction especially for kids.

From here you can read more.

 

Asosiació de Pessebristes de Barcelona

The Barcelona Crib Makers association is setting up Nativity Scene exhibitions in different places around Barcelona.

Artesania de Catalunya’s Nativity Scene is placed on Carrer dels Banys Nous 11, and it will be open from late November to early January. It is centrally located and free of charge.

Església de Betlem is in the address La Rambla 109, and there will be a Nativity Scene from October until early January.

 

Photo: Valerie Hinojosa / Flickr.com

 

Caganer and Caga Tió

Caganer, “the pooping man”, is a Catalan Christmas tradition. It often is as a character in the Catalonian Nativity Scenes and it is children’s fun to find the figure from there. The poop of the Caganer is said to bring good luck, as it fertilizes the earth, and along with that brings good luck for the New Year.

Caga Tió, also known as Tió de Nadal, is a “poop log” which poops Christmas presents for the children. They feed the log every evening with Turrón, and keep him warm with a red blanket. On Christmas Eve the children hit the log with sticks and sing a special song, so Caga Tió would poop the Christmas presents.

 

Sant Esteve and Santos Innocentes

On 26th of December is celebrated the Sant Esteve, Feast of San Esteban. This day is celebrated only in Catalonia. The families come together, and prepares and eats a traditional dinner.

28th of December is day of Santos Innocentes, the Feast of Los Santos Innocentes. It is celebrated similar as the fools day in April in many countries, and even the television and newspapers take part on it.

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