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Santa Llúcia Christmas fair returns with fewer stalls and capacity control

The most unique edition of the historic festive market is underway until December 23

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27 November 2020 02:45 PM

by

Cillian Shields | Barcelona

Barcelona's oldest Christmas market, Santa Llúcia, has opened up for the 2020 festive season on Friday morning in spite of the pandemic, and will run until December 23. 

It kicked off only at half speed due to rain falling in the Catalan capital which watered down the opening of the market. 

The 233rd edition of the Christmas fair is certainly the most abnormal in the history of the fair, marked by restrictions in place to suppress the spread of Covid-19. 

This year’s fair is still in its same location as always, in front of the Barcelona Cathedral in the Gothic neighbourhood, but there are two entrances and two exits in place to control capacities, thus guaranteeing safety distances between visitors and shoppers. 

The number of stalls has been reduced from 280 to 133, and the contact details of visitors are taken at the entrance.

Uncertainty

Sellers have expressed concern and “uncertainty” about how this year’s fair will go. The economic crisis provoked by the pandemic has hit both sellers and buyers, yet stall owners hope for a big turnout at Santa Llúcia regardless. 

This is the case of Caganers.com, one of the biggest vendors of the Catalan Christmas decoration of defecating figurines that tell Catalan News they have seen an increase in online sales this year. 

"This year people have been very confined and we are noticing it,” Josep Maria Alós, co-owner of Caganers.com, explains. 

This year many of the most popular ‘caganers’ have featured characters wearing face masks to mark the coronavirus pandemic. 

Alós says that this year they have kept their five stalls at the fair to "avoid congestion" and thus "allow people to diversify a bit."

For the sellers, setting up in Santa Llúcia is more expensive this year compared to others, because there are some “fixed expenses which have to be shared by fewer sellers this year,” as Ricard Pujadas, owner of the stall Pujadas 1956, explains.

“We don't know how it will go this year, we need a lot of people to visit,” Pujadas adds.

Christmas lights

The evening before the beginning of the famous Christmas fair kicked off, Barcelona's festive lights were switched on

They stretch around 100km of streets and illuminate newer streets and squares this year, in order to give the city a more festive feel. 

Barcelona city council has allocated €1.7 million to light up the public spaces of the city to give it an extra special festive feel this year to encourage more shopping in local and neighbourhood stores that have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. 

Christmas celebrations marked by the pandemic

Christmas and New Year's celebrations are going to look much different this year compared to others due to the pandemic. 

The Santa Llúcia market has been able to go ahead, but this year there will be no public nativity scene as usual, nor will there be the normal fireworks to ring in 2021. 

As of yet it's not been confirmed whether or not the Three Kings Parade will go ahead on January 5. 

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  • A couple peruse the stalls of the Santa Llúcia Christmas fair in the centre of Barcelona, November 2020 (by Carola López)

  • A couple peruse the stalls of the Santa Llúcia Christmas fair in the centre of Barcelona, November 2020 (by Carola López)

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