The festive street lights have been switched on, shop windows sparkle with seasonal displays, and yes, the popular Christmas markets around Spain are now in full swing. Tradition and festive good cheer weave together among the many stalls which offer gifts and decorations, as well as themed activities and events for all the family to enjoy. Here are two of our favourites.
Fira de Santa Llúcia, Barcelona
29th November – 23th December
Located in the square below the city’s medieval cathedral, this delightful market dates back to 1786. You’ll find Christmas trees of all sizes, wreaths and mistletoe, and plenty of artisan stalls with hand-made jewellery, crafts and gifts. Special events and activities for kids are scheduled throughout its residency. A nativity scene is a centrepiece of Catholic households, and many stalls offer an array of figurines from the nativity narrative, including a Catalan participant, the caganer who squats to relieve himself in a discreet corner. Contemporary representations depict this character as any celebrity that’s in the public eye, from Spanish royalty to Barça key players, politicians and pop stars. Another uniquely Catalan tradition in the cagatió. This is a hollowed out log painted with a smiling face and a red barretina hat. He is “filled” with sweets, nougat and small toys. The children look after him in the run-up to Christmas, “feeding” him and covering him with a blanket. On Christmas day, however, they take a stick and sing a song that orders him to defecate gifts for them! La Fira de Santa Llucía is a great place to discover these fascinating and colourful local traditions.
Puerto Portals, Palma de Mallorca
18th December – 6th January
The Christmassy ambience of this market offers a touch of magic with its Central European style wooden huts and festive illuminations. A uniquely Spanish touch exudes from its decorations and gifts. Traditional foods and artisan toiletries fill the air with an unmistakable scent, and creative gift ideas to slip under the tree or into a stocking abound. One of its highlights is the ice-skating rink which is open daily until 21:00. There is a packed programme of special events, including concerts, workshops for kids, storytelling and circus performances.