Christmas festivals, markets, and concerts: What to do in December

The final month of the year always brings about wonderful Christmas activities to enjoy, here's our picks of what to do in December in Catalonia

The Christmas market at the Old Estrella Damm Factory in 2018 (by TRESC)
The Christmas market at the Old Estrella Damm Factory in 2018 (by TRESC) / Cillian Shields

Cillian Shields | Barcelona

December 1, 2019 02:00 PM

Christmas markets | Throughout Catalonia | All month

December time is synonymous with the Christmas markets that pop up all over the country. From the famed Santa Llúcia one just in front of the Barcelona Cathedral, to smaller artisanal pop-ups offering people the chance to get their loved ones unique, hand-crafted, thoughtful gifts this season. 

New this year is the market at Port Vell in Barcelona, operating from December 5th to January 5th. The fair marks the 150th anniversary of the port, and is even complete with a ferris wheel. 

Other notable markets to get to before the big day are: Nau Bostik Christmas market, Sagrada Familia Christmas fair, Mataró Christmas Fair, the Girona Christmas Fair in Plaça Independencia, and the Christmas Fair in Rambla Nova in Tarragona. 

Christmas tree market | Espinelves | Nov 30-Dec 8 

The Fira de l'Avet a Espinelves, is the best place in the country to buy your Christmas tree. Organizers are expecting up to 90,000 people to visit, and sell around 4,000 decorative seasonal trees. There will also be plenty of other stalls selling various Christmas related items. 

City of Dreams Childrens’ Festival | Fira Barcelona | Dec 27-31

If you’re looking for post-Christmas plans with the family, look no further than the City of Dreams Childrens’ Festival, with over 120 activities for children aged 0-12. Around 25,000 visitors are expected this year to take part in fun and educative games such as karaoke, arts, sports, and food workshops. Plus there’s even a family-friendly escape room to enjoy!  

Poble Espanyol Christmas Fair | Poble Espanyol | Dec 6-8

Long weekend family plans made easy at the Poble Espanyol Christmas Fair! Children can enjoy Catalan christmas traditions like the caga tío, as well as plenty of attractions, Christmas movies, and crafts workshops, and of course Santa’s Grotto! Meanwhile, adults will be kept busy with an artisan beer fair and a gastronomic show with local products and pairings. Don’t forget your rollerblades either to enjoy the roller disco! If you don’t own any, you can always rent a pair at the fair. 

Traditionally-Made Beer Winter Festival | Vilanova i la Geltrú | Dec 14

If the mention of artisan beer in the previous paragraph grabbed your attention, perhaps the winter craft beer festival in a seaside town just south of Barcelona may be of interest. A one-day traditionally-made beer winter festival will teach you what the appropriate beers are to enjoy in the cold weather, with tastings on offer, and a huge selection of artisan beers from around 20 beermakers from across Catalonia and Spain to choose from.

Concert picks | Barcelona venues | Various dates

Once again, Barcelona is a hub of creativity, and December brings with it another fantastic lineup of concerts. Californian funk-masters !!! (pronounced like ‘chk chk chk,’ three quick clicks with your tongue) return to the Apolo with a new album on December 12, where they last closed out Primavera Sound in 2017. 

Same night, same venue, different great act. La Bien Querida brings her indie rock tunes to the La 2 room in the Apolo also on December 12. Before then, Catalan reggaeton up-and-comer Bad Gyal takes to the stage at Razzmatazz for two nights on November 30 and December 1. 

L’Auditori shows | L’Auditori - Barcelona concert hall | Various dates

If you’re looking to enjoy a more upmarket feast of music in a beautiful setting, L’Auditori concert hall in Barcelona has a fantastic offering this festive period. Russian pianist Varvara performs Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata on December 3, while the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra plays Händel's Messiah for three days over December 13, 14, and 15. Note that the final performance on December 15th is an early show beginning at 11am, while the others are evening concerts.

World Padel Tour | Palau Sant Jordi | December 19-23

The game of padel has shot up in popularity over the last couple of decades, to the point where, similar to tennis, the professional echelons of the game now go on tour, competing in tournaments across the globe. The arrive to Catalonia for the Barcelona Master Final right before Christmas, and you can have your chance to see the best in the game battle it out for as little as €13! 

Clásico | Camp Nou | December 18

The La Liga clash between Barcelona and Real Madrid had been scheduled to take place in October, but for security reasons the game had to be postponed, ultimately to December 18. With both teams neck-and-neck in the league table, and Zidane’s Madrid side desperate to prise the Liga title out of the hands of the Catalans, it will undoubtedly be an enthralling encounter in Camp Nou. 

Alternatively, if you want to catch a Barça game on a weekend and for cheaper, there’s an offer on right now for 50% off tickets to the Camp Nou. The Mallorca match on December 7 and the Alavés game on December 21 are the games that are available in this offer. Search “FC Barcelona” in the Groupon search bar and you will find it!

Rec Festival | Tarragona | December 3-8

Rec Festival is one of the best film festivals in the world, showcasing fresh new directors as well as the early works of legends. International fiction and documentary films make up the core of Rec’s being, with a focus on cinema auteur too. Be sure not to miss Parasite, and Les Miserables will be a show-stopper as well. 

Gameplay exhibition | CCCB | December 19 - May 3, 2020 

Barcelona’s Contemporary Culture Center opens an exciting new exhibition near the end of this month, taking a look at gaming. Their website puts it best: "Gameplay" journeys to the origins of video games, analyses their language and highlights the impact they have had on popular digital culture and on art and society. The exhibition is designed as a space for recreation and reflection where visitors can play and (re)discover video game culture.”

Monkeys and the planet exhibits | Museum of Natural Sciences | Throughout December

Human beings are related to every other living organism on the planet, if you extend back to the origins of life on planet earth, the connection can be clearly seen. From your pet dog, feral hogs, even the trees on the street, we all share one starting point. However, monkeys are closer related to us than any other species on the planet, and our histories and intricately linked. ‘Monkeys: A Primate Story’ opens in the Museum of Natural Sciences on December 11, lasting until next April 26. 

While you’re there, another exhibition you should do your best to visit is the Planet Life exhibition, which only opened on November 10. The showcase examines what state the planet is in today, asking how, and looking ahead to the future of what could be, as humans, animals, rivers, mountains, and countless others have left their mark on Earth.