Barcelona in December is the perfect time to experience this vibrant city in Spain. Winter in most European cities can be cold, but, due to its relatively southernly location, Barcelona’s winter weather tends to lean toward the mild side. With average temperatures ranging between 6°C (43°F) at night and 14°C (54°F) during the day, it’s a pleasant time to explore this lively town without the summer crowds.
Now, let’s talk about the festive atmosphere that takes over Barcelona in December. The city comes alive with twinkling lights, cozy markets, and an undeniable holiday spirit from the city centre to the outer edges. Whether you’re strolling down the famous La Rambla, checking out the market stalls at the holiday markets, or enjoying some tapas at a local eatery, there’s something magical about spending December in Barcelona.
Outdoor activities are still on the table with the milder temperatures. You can still soak up the Mediterranean vibes by the beach or explore the architectural wonders, like Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia, without enduring the sweltering heat of summer. Plus, the locals embrace their wacky Christmas traditions, making it extra enjoyable for everyone who visits.
Apart from the celebrations, December is a great time to check out some of the city’s best attractions with fewer tourists around. Say goodbye to long lines at popular spots, like Park Güell and Casa Batlló. Not only does this enhance your experience, but it also makes getting around Barcelona a whole lot easier.
With great weather, festive ambiance, and lesser crowds, Barcelona in December is truly a delightful experience to add to your European adventure.
Festive Celebrations in December
Christmas in Barcelona
If you’re visiting Barcelona in December, you’re in for a treat as the city comes alive with festive cheer and holiday spirit. You’ll love the sparkling Christmas lights that illuminate the streets, giving the whole city a magical glow. Make sure to check out the city’s Christmas markets, like the famous Fira de Santa Llúcia, held in Barcelona since 1786. You’ll be mesmerized by the beautiful nativity scenes (known as “Pessebres”) displayed all over town. Don’t forget to spot the quirky Caganer – a unique Catalonian figurine hidden in the nativities!
New Year’s Eve Celebrations
As the clock ticks down to midnight on December 31, the atmosphere in Barcelona is electric! Join the crowds at Plaça d’Espanya, Plaça de Catalunya, or the beach for buzzing New Year’s Eve celebrations. Remember to bring 12 grapes with you as it’s a Catalan tradition to eat one grape per clock strike, symbolizing good luck for the upcoming year. Expect fireworks, live music, and spirited toasts as you welcome in the new year with style!
Traditional Catalan Festivities
In addition to Christmas and New Year’s Eve, Barcelona in December offers several other cultural celebrations. On Constitution Day (December 6) and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8), you’ll find many of the city’s landmarks and attractions open, allowing you to take in the rich history and vibrant culture. These holidays are perfect opportunities to soak up the festive traditions that make Barcelona shine even brighter in December.
Throughout the month, you’ll witness people partaking in a variety of local customs, such as building human towers called “Castells” and dancing the “Sardana.” So put on your warmest clothes and let the festive spirit of Barcelona envelop you as you explore this amazing city during the holiday season.
The Strange Tradition Of The Caganer
Oh, the Caganer! It’s one of those traditions that can seem utterly baffling to outsiders, but to Catalans, it’s an essential part of their Christmas celebrations.
So, et’s dive into this quirky piece of Barcelona’s festive lore.
The Caganer is, quite literally, a figurine of a peasant man caught in the act of, well, defecating. He’s traditionally placed in nativity scenes throughout Catalonia. Why, you may ask? Great question!
The origins of the Caganer are a bit murky. Some believe the tradition dates back to the 17th or 18th century. Symbolically, it’s said that the Caganer is fertilizing the Earth, ensuring a bountiful harvest for the year ahead–a sort of nod to nature’s cycle and the idea of renewal. Others see it as a symbol of equality: no matter your status or divine events occurring, everyone has basic human needs.
The tradition has evolved with time, too. These days, alongside the traditional peasant Caganer, you can find figures resembling celebrities, politicians, and even famous fictional characters, all doing their “business.” It’s become a bit of a fun game for kids to find the Caganer in large nativity displays.
And since this lighthearted reminder that amidst the reverence and solemnity of the season there is always room for a bit of humor is a distinctly Catalan tradition, there may be no more cultural experience you’ll have in Barcelona during December than looking for the man in the nativity doing his poo.
Culinary Delights in December
Christmas Markets and Food
Barcelona’s Christmas markets are a must-visit during December for the festive food, among other things. Don’t miss the famous Fira de Santa Llúcia – a traditional market that dates back to 1786! With more than 300 stalls, you’ll find unique, handmade gifts, festive decorations, and of course, an array of delicious local foods. Be sure to indulge in some traditional Christmas sweets like turrons and polvorones.
For a more diverse food experience, check out the Mercat de la Boqueria. It’s one of the city’s most popular food markets, where you can find a variety of ingredients and prepared dishes like tapas, seafood, cheeses, and cured meats.
Traditional Catalan Foods
Barcelona is known for its mouthwatering Catalan cuisine. In December, warmth-seeking foodies can feast on dishes like:
- Escudella i Carn d’Olla: A hearty Catalan stew made with meat, vegetables, and pasta or rice.
- Canelons: Stuffed pasta rolls, often filled with minced meat and topped with béchamel sauce.
Barcelona’s December Attractions
One of the most iconic attractions in Barcelona is, of course, the famous Sagrada Familia. Designed by renowned architect Antoni Gaudí, this beautiful basilica is a must-see even in December. With fewer tourists visiting in winter, you’ll have a more peaceful experience exploring this masterpiece. Don’t forget to check out the stunning stained-glass windows that create a mesmerizing light show indoors.
Another Gaudí gem, Park Güell is a great spot to stroll around and take in the vibrant colors of the mosaics and intriguing architectural designs. Even though it’s December, Barcelona’s weather is quite mild, making it perfect for a walk in this uniquely beautiful park.
Casa Mila and Casa Batlló
Two more Gaudí masterpieces worth visiting are Casa Mila and Casa Batlló, both located on the bustling Passeig de Gracia. These whimsical and unconventional buildings are an absolute must-see, and their festive Christmas decorations add to their charm. Wander around and explore the fascinating interiors as well!
The Gothic Quarter
Barri Gòtic, or the Gothic Quarter, is the heart of Barcelona’s Old Town. Wander through its winding alleys and explore the enchanting squares filled with beautiful historic buildings. Make sure to visit the Cathedral of Barcelona, an impressive example of Gothic architecture, and don’t miss Las Ramblas, a vibrant pedestrian street perfect for people-watching.
While exploring Barri Gòtic, take your time to admire the stunning Barcelona Cathedral. This Gothic masterpiece is not only an architectural delight but also holds several beautiful chapels and a stunning cloister. During December, you can often find Christmas markets set up outside, creating a festive atmosphere.
And no visit to Barcelona would be complete without experiencing a passionate Flamenco show. You’ll find several venues offering these soulful performances in December, so make sure to catch one while you’re there. It’s a perfect way to immerse yourself in Spanish culture and create a memorable evening in beautiful Barcelona.
Visiting Barcelona in December
Pros and Cons of Visiting in December
Not sure if visiting Barcelona in December is the right choice for you? Let’s dive into the pros and cons to help you make your decision.
- Fewer tourists: One of the biggest advantages of hitting up Barcelona in December is the lack of crowds. You’ll enjoy a more relaxed atmosphere, with shorter lines and fewer tourists getting in your way.
- Mild weather: Although it’s not beach weather, you’ll find that December in Barcelona is pleasantly cool, with temperatures ranging from around 6°C (43°F) to 14°C (57°F). You won’t have to worry about the oppressive heat and humidity of the summer months.
- Flight and hotel discounts: It’s low season, which means you can often score some sweet deals on flights and hotels. Who doesn’t love saving a bit of cash while traveling?
- Christmas vibes: If you’re a fan of holiday cheer, Barcelona’s got you covered with its Christmas markets, lights, and festivities.
- Cooler temperatures: While the mild weather might be a pro for some, others might prefer the warmer days of spring or summer for visiting Barcelona.
- Shorter days: With only about 9 hours of daylight in December, you might feel like you’re running out of time to explore all the amazing sights this city has to offer.
- Rainier days: With an average of around 9 rainy days during the month, it’s a bit wetter than some other times of the year, so don’t forget to pack an umbrella!
Weather in Barcelona in December
December in Barcelona can be pretty mild and pleasant. The average daily temperature is around 11°C (52°F), with daytime highs reaching around 14°C (57°F). At night, the temperature does drop to around 5°C (41°F), so you’ll want to make sure you pack a warm jacket for the evenings.
Sun and Rainfall
While December isn’t the sunniest month in Barcelona, you can still expect about 4 hours of sunshine per day. There are typically just 3 days of rain during the month, which means the majority of the time, you’ll have dry weather to explore the city. But don’t forget to pack an umbrella, just in case!
Dressing for the Weather
As one of the coldest months, Barcelona’s December weather isn’t beach weather, but it’s much less oppressive than the summer heat. To ensure you’re comfortable while exploring the city, you’ll want to wear layers. Begin with a light base layer, like a t-shirt or long sleeve shirt, and add a sweater or light jacket as needed. Bring a heavier coat for nighttime when temperatures drop.
As for pants, you might be fine with jeans or chinos during the day, but consider warmer options like thicker leggings or thermal-lined pants for evening outings. A pair of gloves, a hat, and a scarf can also help keep you warm during your outdoor adventures in Barcelona. The bottom line: pack a mixture of warm layers and lighter options to prepare for the mild but occasionally chilly weather in Barcelona in December.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab your passport, book your flight, and secure that discounted hotel room – it’s time to discover the beauty and charm of Barcelona in December.