December Festivals in Spain

What to expect if visiting Spain at Christmas time

Christmas market at Plaza Mayor in Madrid
••• Christmas market at Plaza Mayor in Madrid. Manuel/Creative Commons

What's Happening in December in Spain?:

Christmas is the biggest lure in December in Spain, with Madrid and Barcelona unsurprisingly the focus of the activity.

See also:

Christmas in Spain

Main article: Christmas in Spain

There will be Christmas markets all over Spain throughout the month, with the bigger ones in the larger cities. There is a website for the Barcelona Christmas Market.

There are some interesting traditions in Barcelona, including the Tió de Nadal, also someone crudely known as "Cagatio", which means "shitlog", as he is supposed to "shit" your presents for you. I don't think this particular Christmas tradition will be appearing in any Coca-Cola commercials any time soon.

  • November and early December
    Event World Press Photo Exhibition
    Where? CCCB in Barcelona.
    What? Exhibition of photojournalism.

  • Early November until Christmas
    Event Feria de Belen de Sevilla
    Where?
    Around Seville Cathedral
    What? Buy or browse nativity scenes.
     
  • November or December
    Event SICAB International Horse Fair

    Where? Seville
    What? Equestrian fair.
  • December 8
    Event Inmaculada
    Where? Everywhere but particularly Seville
    What? Religious ceremony. Christmas starts here!
     
  • Evening of December 10
    Event 'Noche Vieja Universitaria'
    Where? Salamanca
    What? University New Year's Eve. The city's students get together to celebrate New Year's Eve early, before returning to their families to celebrate the real thing.
     
  • Mid-December
    Event Festival de Gospel y Negro Spirituals
    Where? Madrid
    What? Gospel Festival.
     
  • Mid-December
    Event Els Grans del Gospel

    Where? Barcelona
    What? Gospel festival. 
     
  • December 21
    Event Winter solstice
    Where? All over Spain.
    What? Bonfires in Robledo de Chavela (near Madrid), Olombrada (near Segovia), Castrillo de Don Juan (near Palencia) and Viniegra de Abajo (near La Rioja).
     
  • Third Saturday of December (TBC)
    Event Buff Epic Run
    Where? Montjuic hill in Barcelona
    What? Costume fun run.
     
  • December 22
    Event 'El Gordo' Christmas Lottery
    Where? All over Spain
    What? El Gordo, the massive Spanish lottery, is drawn. This lottery is so big, they start selling tickets in August!
     
  • Date TBC; usually last Sunday before Christmas)
    Event Migas festival
    Where? Torrax
    What? A celebration of the traditional fried breadcrumbs meal, in Torrax, Costa del Sol. See pictures here: Pictures from Migas festival
     
  • December 24
    Event Christmas Eve in Spain
    Where? All over Spain.
    What? A far bigger event than Christmas Day. Most Spaniards spend the evening with the families. Expect most shops to close early on the 24th and remain closed until the morning of the 26th.
     
  • December 25
    Event Christmas Day in Spain
    Where? All over Spain
    What? A quiet day, with most shops closed, though many bars open in the afternoon.
     
  • December 26
    Event Polar Bear Swim
    Where? Gibraltar
    What? A bracing swim in the chilly Strait of Gibraltar.
     
  • December 28
    Event El Baile de los Locos y del Oso
    Where? Fuete Carreteros, near Cordoba.
    What? Musketeers, dancing swordsmen and a man dressed as a bear in this local festival.
     
  • December 28 
    Event Santos Inocentes
    Where? All over Spain
    What? Spain's version of April Fools' Day. 
     
  • December 28 
    Event Enfarinats
    Where?
    What? Flour fight in Ibi, near Alicante. Click on the link for the amazing pictures.
     
  • December 28, 2013 (TBC)
    Event Verdiales festival
    Where? Malaga
    What? Verdiales is a form of flamenco.
     
  • December 31 
    Event Fun runs.
    Where? Madrid and Barcelona.
    What? Fun Runs take place in Madrid and Barcelona. Madrid has the  San Silvestre Vallecana and Barcelona has the Cursa dels Nassos. See the Cursa dels Nassos race route.
     
  • December 31 
    Event New Year's Eve (Nochevieja)
    Where? All over Spain
    What? Get twelve grapes and eat them with the gongs at midnight. Unlike in other countries, the Spanish tend to go out after midnight, spending midnight with family friends before the bars open a little later. The alternative is to go to the main square, where there will be a big crowd. 

    See also: