Winter in Barcelona
November is the time of year when Barcelona locals breathe a collective sigh of relief – the tourists have gone and the city is once again theirs. No more battling through the Boqueria market, no more involuntarily featuring in people’s holiday snaps and no more standing-room-only on the metro.
Winter is the perfect time to holiday in Barcelona. The flights are cheap, the weather is crisp and bright and the atmosphere is still lively and welcoming – especially in the run-up to the Christmas festivities. Visiting Barcelona at this time of year can be a brilliant way to beat the winter blues.
There’s so much going on!
Even though there are noticeably fewer tourists, that doesn’t mean Barcelona is any less exciting. As a visitor or resident you’re spoilt for choice – the Catalan capital leaves no festive stone unturned and what with all the Christmas lights, the streets are transformed into something beguilingly beautiful.
- Planning on starting your Christmas shopping while in Barcelona? Then the Shopping Night Barcelona is a night not to be missed. The stores all along Passeig de Gràcia open up their doors from 8pm until 1am so you can get your Christmas shopping off to a flying start.
- 25th November sees the start of the annual Christmas market, the Fira de Santa Llúcia, which occupies the area in front of the Cathedral. It’s great for picking up some original, local-themed presents and sampling some festive food.
- The first weekend of December is usually the grand unveiling of the life-size Nativity Scene in Plaça Sant Jaume. Nativity scenes are big business in Barcelona and people queue just to take pictures of them.
- 22nd December up on Montjuïc hill is a full-on experience – it marks the event of the Buff Epic Run, where around 2,500 people take part in an 8km whacky race complete with mud pits, tyres and various other obstacles.
- Christmas Day Harbour Swim 2013 – one of Barcelona’s oldest sporting traditions. On the 25th December, Barcelona’s swimming team race across 200m of open water at the port to get to the statue of Christopher Columbus.
- For those who like a good joke, December 28th is Día de los Santos Inocentes, much like our April Fool’s Day. You may see some poor souls walking around with the paper sign of ‘la llufa’ stuck to their back, evidence that a prank has been played on them.
- New Year’s Eve – general festivities and parties throughout the city. One famous tradition is to gather in Plaça Catalunya at midnight and eat a grape on every chime of the clock!
- The magical Three Kings Day unfolds on 6th January – a gift-giving festival with firework displays and processions.
- Depeche Mode will be playing Barcelona on Wednesday 14th January at the Palau Sant Jordi on Montjuïc hill. Tickets are on sale now.
- January and February play host to some huge FC Barcelona matches at Camp Nou.
- From around the 12th February for five days there’s a festival commemorating Santa Eulàlia. Temporary stages are put up and there are lots of free concerts, traditional fire-runs and many interesting buildings and museums are free.
Hit the shops!
Shopping in Barcelona is incredible. Whether you’re after some presents for the family or want to treat yourself to something special, Barcelona has it all. From upmarket designers and household names like Zara to independent bohemian boutiques, it would be rude not to spend an afternoon indulging yourself!
After the Christmas festivities come the annual January sales. The name for the sales in Barcelona is ‘rebajas’ in Spanish or ‘rebaixes’ in Catalan. Sales here typically begin the week after the Feast Day of the Kings, around 10th – 14th January, and continue for approximately one month. Be sure to pay a visit to Barcelona’s most popular department stores El Corte Inglés, FNAC and Heron City.
Barcelona does get a little nippy during the winter months, but temperatures are usually in the double figures and rarely dip below 5°C – a stark contrast to winters in northern Europe! The best thing about Barcelona in winter is the constant clear blue skies, which brighten up every day despite a slight chill in the air. So if you’re planning on coming to the city from November to February, pack a few winter warmers and sunglasses!
Seasonal & festive foods
Compared to the more Mediterranean dishes of the South, traditional Catalan food lends itself to winter as it tends to be very wholesome and filling. Here are some typical things to try:
- Sopa de Nadal (Christmas soup) – perhaps more commonly known as ‘sopa de galets’. It’s a soup made of pasta, meat and vegetables and is guaranteed to put hairs on your chest during the winter months.
- Suquet casserole – a warming broth of fish and potatoes.
- Turrón (nougat) – the traditional Christmas sweet in Spain. Available in several varieties, hard, soft, containing pistachios or even stuffed with candied fruits.
- Churros - often referred to as a Spanish doughnut, they’re everybody’s favourite treat. Typically eaten for breakfast dipped in hot chocolate, they’re a great way to start the day!
- Yema – a type of marzipan made with egg.
- Rosquillos de vino – cookies flavoured with anise and wine.
- Roasted chestnuts and sweet potatoes – sold all over Barcelona by street sellers – the perfect way to warm up when sightseeing.
Our Oh-Barcelona.com apartments
Are you eyeing up the Catalan capital this winter? Why not stay in style in one of our self-catering apartments? Enjoy the off-peak prices and grab yourself a bargain, giving you more pennies to spend on presents and sightseeing when you’re here! We have gorgeous accommodation all over the city covering a variety of needs and budgets, from chic and central pads close to the main attractions, to romantic getaways in the quiet outskirts.
Amid the Christmas lights, decorations and celebrations, you’re sure to be swept up in the festivities and merriment, wherever you choose to stay in the city. The beauty of Barcelona in winter is that you can see and do everything in January that you can see and do in July – minus the crowds and inflated prices!
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