Many people book cheap holidays in Barcelona over the Christmas period in order to participate in the city’s famous Yuletide celebrations.
One of the Catalonian capital’s favourite ways to celebrate the season is with its many Christmas markets, the biggest of which is the Fira de Santa Llucia outside Barcelona Cathedral in the Plaza de la Seu. This is one of Spain’s oldest markets, with a pedigree stretching back to 1786 and a constant stream of international visitors who come to sample the hot foods, mulled wine, Christmas decorations and handmade gifts from one of its 300-plus stalls – while soaking up the Christmas spirit from its nativity scenes, Christmas singers and lights. The market opened this week and will keep going until 23 December.
Many of the displays in Barcelona reflect some of the more bizarre traditions of the region, such as the caga tio, or “poo-ing log”. This is a large wooden hollow log which is given a smiley face and other decorations and then “fed” by being filled with sweets and other Christmas treats throughout the month of December. On Christmas Eve, children singing traditional caga tio songs hit the log with sticks in a bid to make it “poo” out its festive bounty! Small versions of this log are for sale in the city’s Christmas markets.
On 5 December, the Three Wise Men lead a procession through the city, shortly shortly after 5pm from Portal de la Pau – finishing up at Montjuïc around 9pm. This marks the arrival of presents, so there are always many families crowding the route! That night, the kiddies leave a shoe by their bed to be filled with presents, although these will not usually be opened until early January.
One word of warning to anyone considering cheap holidays in Barcelona this season – the chances of a White Christmas in the city are extremely slight, with February 2004 the last time there was significant snowfall. Weather in December and January is mild by British winter standards, but can be changeable and wet.