Feria y Mercado de Navidad/ Christmas Fair and Market

December is just around the corner, which means that the Christmas celebrations are starting!

Can you think of a better way to gradually get into the magic of Christmas than by taking a walk through these famous markets and fairs? From the smell of Christmas trees, to the colours and lights of the decorations, to the products of the local craftsmen, it’s a real immersion in the heart of this festival that awaits you.  Barcelona has many Christmas markets and fairs, both old and new, with their own history and identity. Among all these events, there are three that are part of the city’s history.

Feria de Santa Llúcia:

This is the oldest fair that revolves around the world of nativity scenes and Christmas traditions. It is therefore the most authentic fair in Barcelona. It was founded in 1736, so this year we are celebrating its 235th anniversary. For this reason, the organisers have gone to great lengths to put up more than 20 illuminated Christmas trees.

Located in the Avinguda de la Catedral, it has a total of 170 stands. It is the only fair in the world where you will find more than 140 spaces for the sale of strictly Christmas products, such as cots, figurines, foam, Christmas trees, accessories for your home and many others. In addition, you can also enjoy more than 25 spaces dedicated to gift items, such as textile accessories, ceramics, jewellery, leather, etc.

It runs from 26 November to 24 December!

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Feria de Reyes de la Gran Vía:

As it has every year since 1877, the Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes will host the Epiphany Fair (Feria de Reyes), which will open its doors from 17 December to 6 January 2022. It is the second oldest Christmas fair in Barcelona.

Initially, the 18 stands of this fair were dedicated to the sale of toys and sweets. Today, the number of stands has increased and diversified. You will of course find the famous traditional toys and stuffed animals, but also many traditional and handicraft products or various stands of Catalan crafts. This market is therefore perfect for finding last minute gifts!

Don’t forget to stop at the famous Churrerías, spread throughout the fair, to try the famous “churros con chocolate caliente”, which will warm you up while stimulating your taste buds!

Tio de Nadal, christmas, celebration, tradition, market, craft, family gift

Feria de la Sagrada Familia:

Celebrated for the first time in 1972, the Feria de la Sagrada Familia is the most recent of all the Christmas fairs in Barcelona. It takes place on the same dates as the Santa Llúcia fair, and this is not by chance. In fact, it was created when there was no more room for stalls in Santa Llúcia. Several craftsmen decided to set up shop next to Gaudí’s masterpiece.

This fair has a lot in common with its two “big sisters”. You will find all kinds of figures and elements for nativity scenes, Christmas trees and plants, gift items, food and sweets. On the food side, the “churrerías” will naturally be present, and you will also find a chestnut and sweet potato stall.

In addition, there are free family activities such as competitions, workshops, music and theatre.  They also have a photocall with a giant “Tió” and a “Caganer”.

Don’t hesitate to take a walk through one of these Christmas markets!

La Castanyada: the international chestnut festival

This traditional and popular festival, deeply rooted in Catalonia, is celebrated on All Saints’ Day (1 November), but also the day before (31 October).

The tradition of this festival is to eat chestnuts. Chestnuts are traditionally eaten on the day before and the day of Castanyada, but they can be found at street vendors in Barcelona at any time in late October.

What is it?

Chestnuts are roasted chestnuts on charcoal grills and often sold wrapped in newspaper, perfect for warming company when it is cold in Barcelona. Panellets are also very common in Barcelona at this time of year. They can be described as small almond-flavoured balls covered with pine nuts. These snacks are served in coconut, lemon or chocolate flavours. They are beautiful and traditional, and you can find them mainly in local bakeries. If you visit Barcelona during this period, this is a must-have dessert, which can also be used as a souvenir!

If you have a salty palate, you can also find sweet potatoes during the Castanyada. These little delicacies will warm you up from the inside out, often accompanied by a glass of sweet traditional muscatel wine.

chestnut, autumn, october, november, eating, food street, barcelona

Where does this festival come from?

Castanyada is a pagan tradition – like Magosto in Galicia or Asturias or Halloween in the Anglo-Saxon countries – whose origins date back to the 18th century. There are several legends that explain these beginnings. It is said that before All Saints’ Day, families gathered to watch over their dead. In order to survive, they stocked up on the first fruits of autumn, mainly chestnuts, legumes and sweet potatoes washed down with sweet wine (today’s Muscat). This custom gave rise to the emblematic figure of the “castanyera”, who prayed while the chestnuts were roasting.

Another theory is that the festival was for bell ringers, who rang the bells all night to remind the faithful of the need to pray for the souls of their dead. Whenever they rested, they regained their strength by eating what people brought them, in this case the fruits of autumn.

How is it celebrated?

Although most festivities in Catalonia include wild street parties, dancing, costumes and fireworks. The castanyada is more of a quiet celebration, with most families going to the cemetery to lay flowers and then spend time with their loved ones. If you are in Barcelona during this festival, do as the locals do and visit one of the city’s most beautiful cemeteries, the Poblenou Cemetery.

cemetery, visit, poblenou, Barcelona

New cycle paths in Barcelona to encourage the use of soft mobility.

Apart from being a leisure activity and a family sport accessible to all, cycling is becoming one of the best means of urban transport. More ecological than the car, healthier than public transport, and faster than walking, the bicycle is more than ever a sustainable solution to the ills of today’s society, and the Barcelona City Council has understood this.

In recent years, Barcelona has made a major effort to increase the city’s network of cycle paths and become a cycle-friendly city. From 2015 to today, the kilometres of cycling infrastructure have doubled to the current 240 kilometres of network. These steps are in line with the objectives set out in the 2024 Urban Mobility Plan (PMU), where the City Government commits to strengthening sustainable travel, moving towards a more sustainable, healthy and safe mobility.

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The need for sustainable mobility has been taken on board by city dwellers, even after COVID 19. The month of September saw an increase of 22.4% in cycling on working days, which proves this trend. In view of the increase in the use of this means of transport, the municipal government wishes to increase and improve the current network of cycle paths. In total, the new package includes 28 new actions that will take place between 2021 and 2023.  This includes 44.3 kilometres of the cycle network: 32.6 kilometres of new cycle paths will be created and 11.7 kilometres of the current network will be improved.

This means that by 2023, the city will have 272.6 kilometres of cycle network. To make this possible, Barcelona City Council is planning an investment of 30.8 million euros.

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Among the new cycle paths you can find

– Plaça Catalunya (Ciutat Vella – Passeig de Gràcia and Rambla Catalunya)

– Còrsega (Freser – Castillejos)

– Vía augusta (Laforja to Bonanova)

– Fabra y Puig (avinguda Meridiana – plaça Virrey Amat)

– Escòcia (Arnau de Oms – Avinguda Meridiana)

– Independència – badajoz (Sant Antoni María Claret – Passeig Marítim)

– Mallorca (Clot Tarragona)

– Joan de Borbó (plaça Idrissa Diallo – Escar)

– Travessera de les Corts (Numancia – Joan Güell)

– Avinguda Roma (Tarragona – València)

And many more to discover on the website of the Barcelona City Council!