There are now thousands of Christmas Markets to visit worldwide. While the obvious choice is to jet off to Germany and drown yourself in gluhwein whilst munching on a Bratwurst, you should perhaps consider visiting one of Spain’s cities and soaking up some Spanish Christmas tradition. Here is our pick of the best Christmas markets to visit in Spain…
Barcelona Christmas Market
Where should I head? The main Christmas market in Barcelona is the Fira de Santa Lucia located on the Avingunda de la Catedral just in front of Barcelona Cathedral. Other Christmas markets in the city worth visiting are La Sagrada Familia Christmas Market which takes place on 2 Saturdays in December, this is especially for children and Santa even makes an appearance to collect letters from children and hand out presents and balloons. The Callectiu d’Artesans de l’Alimentacio is located at Santa Maaria del Pi and this is a great place to pick up lovely wines, cheeses, cakes and pates.
When? The main market next the Cathedral is open daily from 30 November to 23 December from 10:30am to 8:30pm. The Sagrada Familia Market is open daily from 10am to 10pm but keep an eye out for Santa’s Saturday visits which are from 6pm to 8pm.
What should I buy? As Barcelona is a Catalan city the locals have their own slightly different traditions which include buying a Caga Tio – a log with a smiley face on, that Catalans keep in their homes from the 8th December, the date of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception until Christmas Eve when they burn it. You can pick up one of these cheerful faced characters from many of the stalls on the market. It is also a good place to buy leather goods and jewellery if you are shopping for gifts.
What else can I do? Barcelona is a fantastic city so exploring is always fun. Visit the Magic Fountain of Montjuic where there are free water and music shows every Friday and Saturday from the end of November and on Christmas Day and 5 January. These take place from 7pm to 9pm.
If you can hang around until after the New Year then make sure you catch the Three Kings Parade on 5 January. Spanish tradition says that the Three Kings bring the presents and not Santa Claus so this is a big day of celebration and 6 January is Kings Day when all the kids get their presents.
Links: Barcelona Tourism
Madrid Christmas Market
Where should I head? Madrid Christmas market is spread out over the many squares in the city. The central Plaza Mayor is the starting point for most tourists and locals wanting to take in the markets and you will also find a traditional carousel here. Several other squares in the city also host markets or craft fairs; the Plaza de Callao specialises in the sale of Christmas decorations and you will also find an ice rink here; the Plaza de Santa Cruz has a large traditional market selling all sorts and the Soledad Torres Acosta Plaza has an ice rink and ski slope!
You can walk between the various markets and the whole city is decorated and lit up beautifully for Christmas.
When? The main markets start on 1 December and run until 31 December but some of the smaller craft markets appear as early as 15 November. Most markets open at 10am and close at 10pm, on Fridays and Saturdays they are open until 11pm on the Plaza de Mayor and Plaza de Callao.
What should I buy? In Spain the nativity scene or Belén is just as important as the Christmas tree when it comes to decorations. The stalls all across the market sell figurines that make up the nativity scene so if you want to fit in with Spanish tradition why not pick some of these up yourself. Fancy dress and crazy wigs are also must have for New Year celebrations in Madrid and you can buy these on the Plaza de la Santa Cruz market.
What else is there to do? Take a bus top tour of the city on the Navibus, a special Christmas bus service that takes you past the most spectacular areas of the city illuminated by Christmas lights.
Links: Madrid Tourism
Granada Christmas Market
Where should I head? Granada is not a massive city and it is really easy to navigate. The markets here have a cosier feel and are less hectic than those in Madrid or Barcelona. Head over to the Plaza de Bib-Rambla just next to the beautiful cathedral and you’ll find stalls brimming with festive treats.
When? The market runs from 6 December to 7 January but times vary. From 6 to 14 December and 20 December to 7 January the market opens between 11am and 2:30pm then again from 5pm to 10pm. From 15 to 19 December the markets are only open in the evenings from 5pm to 10pm.
What should I buy? If you have a sweet tooth Granada is a good choice for you. Try the traditional Churros, a donut-like batter deep fried and rolled in sugar then dipped in hot chocolate sauce. Also try Polverones y Mantecados, a traditional Christmas sweet made from lard and ground almonds (not sure about this one?!) La Haba is the Spanish version of a Christmas pudding so try one of these as well.
What else can I do? Granada is in a fantastic location just a short drive from the Sierra Nevada Mountains so why not take a trip out of the city and do a bit of skiing? If you want to stay in Granada and keep active (and maybe burn off some of those sweet treats) why not take part in the night time fun run that takes place on the last Friday before Christmas each year? The race starts at 8:30pm and you have to wear fancy dress! It’s a great way to see the city and get involved in a local activity.
Links: Granada Tourism
If you are planning a trip over to Spain for Christmas, or in 2014 check out our great selection of holiday homes here.