- Open Air
Every year, the Santa Lucía Christmas Fair sets up shop at the foot of the Cathedral.
Metro: L4 (Yellow) - Jaume I
L3 (Green) - Liceu
Each Christmas, Barcelona hosts the oldest and most popular Christmas Fair in Catalonia, the Santa Llúcia Christmas Fair. It’s been a fixture of the holiday season for over 230 years, and the earliest written references to the event date back to 1786, although presumably the first Fair was held many years prior.
The Fair opens to the public towards late November or early December, and closes a few days before Christmas. It serves as the unofficial start to the Christmas shopping season and partly overlaps with the first day that festive Christmas lights go up around the city. On December 13th, the feast day of Santa Lucía, the Fair hosts popular public programs and fun activities for all ages, with a giant Christmas Tió, Christmas stories, Christmas carols, and more.
The Santa Llúcia Fair has everything you need to get the house ready for Christmastime, with 300 stalls featuring religious imagery and figurines, Christmas lights and other decorations, as well as the so-called “green stalls”, equipped with moss, cork bark, laurel, eucalyptus, mistletoe, and Christmas trees. Finally, there are also stalls offering up handicrafts and musical instruments like hand drums.
Barcelona, like many other places, celebrates the tradition of creating your own nativity scene, which is especially popular among children. Nativity scenes can be made in all sizes, and using many different elements, so long as you’re sure to include the Virgin, Saint Joseph, Baby Jesus, the ox, the mule, the Wise Men, and the shepherd.
In Catalonia, the nativity scene also features another very important character: the Caganer, the star of the show and the figure with the deepest cultural roots.
Originally, the Caganer was portrayed as a peasant wearing typical Catalonian clothing, the barretina hat and a sash, and squatting to answer to nature’s call. Usually, the caganer is located in a “hidden corner” within the nativity scene, like behind a house or under a bridge, so that the little ones have to work to find him.
Today, many make caganers to resemble famous people known at the local, national, or global levels, like politicians, artists, or athletes. New interpretations are created each year, and people often take great delight in viewing each season’s new “characters.”