How will Christmas and New Year’s celebrations look in Barcelona?
Lights to be turned on November 26, but the Plaça Espanya NYE fireworks display won’t go ahead
Christmas is likely going to look much different this year compared to other years. Sure, there will still be presents, cannelloni and torrons, and lots of poo as ever, but like everything else in 2020, this year’s festive period will be marked by the Covid-19 pandemic.
By late December, the health crisis could be following a positive trend after weeks of restrictions put in place by authorities to stop the spread of the virus, or it could follow a negative trend leading to tighter lockdown measures.
Here’s what the festive season may look like in Barcelona, with plans in place at the moment that are always subject to change depending on the evolution of the pandemic.
Christmas lights show by Sol Picó
Barcelona’s Christmas lights will be switched on on November 26 and last until January 7. Their lighting up will be celebrated with a show from the Sol Picó dance company.
The lights will be put up in new spaces too, such as Plaça Catalunya and the 39 municipal markets. They will illuminate 100 km of streets and a budget of over €1,700,000 has been allocated to the lighting that gives the city such a festive feel.
The Sol Picó show will take place in front of the old Born Market, and will start at 6 pm on November 26.
Santa Llúcia Christmas fair
The Christmas market in front of the Cathedral in the Gothic quarter that sells decorations, gifts, and of course caganers, is a beloved emblem of this time of year in Barcelona.
Santa Llúcia is currently expected to go ahead this year despite the pandemic restrictions, Catalan News learned, but it will have fewer stalls in place, access controls, and a reduced capacity for visitors. Only around half of the normal number of sellers will be present, while the Civil Protection body has indicated that the total capacity will be capped at a point where every visitor will be guaranteed 2.5 square meters of space.
All going well, the fair is expected to take place from November 27 to December 23.
No public nativity scene
The Barcelona city council has already announced it won’t put up the nativity scene in Plaça Sant Jaume as per usual this year.
Joan Subirats, the city’s deputy mayor in charge of culture, explained the “difficulties” of keeping such a facility installed during the pandemic. Instead, an exhibition at the entrance of the old city hall building will take a look back at the last ten years of nativity scenes in the square.
Cavalcada - Three kings parade
Subirats also said the council "does not give up on" the possibility of holding the parade of the three magic kings on January 5, one of the most important Christmas traditions in Catalonia. Every year on the night of January 5, the three kings visit to deliver children presents, and this is celebrated with a parade that evening through the city.
This year, the city council are studying possibilities of how to keep the tradition in place this year, but in a different format.
New year’s fireworks
A New Year’s tradition in the Catalan capital is the huge gathering and firework display on Avenida Maria Cristina and Plaça Espanya. Around 94,000 people attended last year, but authorities say it is “obvious” that such a large gathering won’t be repeated this year.
Instead, Barcelona is considering a decentralized fireworks celebration to ring in 2021. A similar plan was seen during the La Mercè festivities in September, and city councillors are pushing for small gatherings, only with friends and family.