Where to see the best Christmas lights in Barcelona
COMPLETE GUIDE OF BARCELONA CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
Every Christmas season in the evenings the streets of Barcelona shine with a network of over 100km / almost 65 miles of Christmas lights, reaching over 400 locations from the most central landmarks and avenues to the main streets of each district, there set up in collaboration with the local commerce associations. International designers compete to be in charge of the displays, and the contracts are renovated every few years so every year there’s new lights to discover in one place or another. The strings of lights used nowadays are sustainable so the power consumption is reduced to the max.
The Christmas lights in Barcelona are switched on on the last Thursday of November, and they are on every evening until January 6 (why January 6? read our post about the Three Wise men to discover why the Christmas holidays are so long in Spain). That day they are switched on at 6.30AM after a ceremony that includes both speeches of notable people as well as some kind of dance and music show. From that day on, the lights will switch on every day 5.30PM to 10PM, and on Fridays and Saturdays they’ll stay on for one extra hour. On New Year’s Eve and January 5, they’ll stay open until the next morning at 1AM (so the Wise Men can enjoy them while they do their job bringing presents to our kids, of course!).
Best Christmas lights around the streets of Barcelona
Passeig de Gracia area
The Christmas lights of Passeig de Gracia tend to be some of the most glamourous in town - which is not strange, since it's the street that gathers all the expensive shopping in town - think Champs Elysees or Madison Avenue. Well, one year the the lights there represented silhouettes of gift boxes, and the locals complained saying that the message was too commercial and consumerist, so the designers have learnt the lesson and these last years their creations have been mesmerizing.
Start your visit from the top, from Diagonal Avenue (or if you are a good walker, you may want to start walking down Gran de Gracia first, to see the lights in that other street, too). Then as you walk down Passeig de Gracia, here are the key points that you need to look for:
- La Pedrera (92, Passeig de Gràcia). The façade of this Gaudi building is decorated for Christmas, and while the building itself isn’t illuminated, the rooftop changes colors while they do their Pedrera by Night visits.
- Hotel Majestic (68, Passeig de Gràcia). This luxurious 5 star hotel decorates its façade with giant white Christmas balls and elegant lights.
- Casa Batllo (43, Passeig de Gràcia). This other Gaudi building goes all out for Christmas. Its balconies are decorated with twinkling lanterns, and the façade gets a dramatic illumination. Plus every 30 minutes, from 6.30PM to 9.30PM (and Fridays and Saturdays until 11PM) there’s a special light and music show. It lasts only 3 minutes each time, so don’t be late! Christmas Eve, New Years’Eve and January 5 it goes until midnight.
- Arago street and optional detour. This is one of the most important traffic arteries in the city, and the same pattern of lights repeats along it. You can see the lights from the crossing, and keep walking down Passeig de Gracia, but my recommendation is to take a little detour and take Arago to the right for a couple of blocks. You’ll cross first Rambla de Catalunya, with fine Christmas decoration between the branches of the lime trees that line up the street. Then you’ll hit Balmes street, a street busy with traffic but with more Christmas lights along it. Follow it 3 blocks down until you reach our next stop:
- Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes. This wide avenue that crosses the city from West to East is also decorated with Christmas lights. For a few years the decoration left the locals puzzled and a bit embarrassed because the lights were simply letters representing onomatopoeias of “Christmas-related” sounds such as clink-clinck (for glasses cheering), nyam-nyam (yum yum)… It was a bit ridiculous, so we are happy the street is back to more classical decoration.
Plaça Catalunya area
- Festival de Nadal. The center of the plaza is occupied by a stage and tents where from 11AM to 9PM will take place all kind of shows, workshops and entertainment for the entire family.
- Corte Ingles department store. The Christmas lights decorating the outside of the building are a classic in the city. The shop windows on the street level are also staged following Christmas themes, Christmas carols play on the speakers and the page of the Wise Men collects the kids letters. Sometimes there’s Santa at the door, as well.
Gothic Quarter and Old Town
- Ronda Sant Pere. A commercial street that starts next to Corte Ingles, and every year is decorated with lights.
- Plaça Urquinaona. A square that gets lost on a complex crossing of main streets, you’ll also find lights there.
- Via Laietana. Now walk down towards the sea through this avenue that crosses the Old Town. You might want to take a small detour to see the Palau de la Musica Catalana concert hall, which should be illuminated from 7.30PM to 10PM.
- Mercat de Santa Caterina. Half way down via Laietana suddenly the street opens to the sides. On the left, the colorful market of Santa Caterina, that like all the markets in town will be decorated for Christmas. Check it out, but come back to ViaLaietana afterwards.
- Barcelona Cathedral. Instead, on the right opens the Plaça Nova, where until Christmas Eve will take place the Fira de Santa Llucia, the most famous Barcelona Christmas market. And even if it’s not there, the Cathedral is illuminated in the evenings until 10PM.
- Carrer del Bisbe. This medieval alley starts to the right of the Cathedral. The majestic neo-gothic bridge over it connecting the Generalitat Palace and the Casa dels Canonges is also illuminated at night.
- Plaça Sant Jaume. Then Carrer del Bisbe takes you to the political center of Barcelona. The City Council there is usually illuminated with some discreet LED Christmas lights, and in one corner stands a large Christmas tree. You’ll also find here the city nativity scene.
- Carrer Ferran. This street lined up with bakeries, cafes and bars has also usually Christmas lights on them. But if you prefer a quieter path, Carrer del Call on its right takes you also to our next stop, but through the backstreets instead:
- La Rambla. Maybe the most famous street of Barcelona, this pedestrian boulevard connects Plaça Catalunya with the port. You want to walk it back up (to your right), heading back to Plaça Catalunya. For Christmas the trees are illuminated with strings of lights coiling around its trunks and branches. On the way up you’ll see some other landmarks illuminated with their usual evening lights (not Christmasy, but nice): the Liceu Opera House, the Asian-looking Casa Bruno Quadres with its dragon lantern, the Boqueria Market with a Christmas tree by its gate, the church of Bethlehem…
- Portaferrissa. Take this alley to the right, with an old fountain and a ceramic mural representing the medieval wall and the iron gate that once closed the city here. Portaferrissa is a lively commercial street with shops that attract mostly teens and young adults. Towards the end it splits in two. Make the left to continue our itinerary (the right takes you back to the Cathedral).
- Portal de l’Angel. The end of this itinerary is a wide pedestrian avenue lined up with international and Spanish clothing brands such as Zara, Mango, H&M… It’ll be busy with locals doing their Christmas shopping, and you’ll probably see some street musicians performing at some point. The street is of course also lit up with Christmas lights.
Other areas where to see Christmas lights in Barcelona
- Sagrada Familia Church. Technically, Gaudi’s church doesn’t get decorated with Christmas lights… BUT it has an entire façade dedicated to Christmas, the Nativity Façade, that lits up at night, 6PM in December and 6.30PM in January, until 10PM. Plus the tower of the Virgin Mary, with its glass star on top that reminds you of a star of Christmas lits up, too, together with the 4 towers of the Gospels.
- Avinguda Paral·lel, Plaça Espanya and Carrer de Sants. Great if you visited the Hill of Montjuic in the late afternoon or if you are staying in the Sants area. If you have time, you may want to extend your stroll all the way to the Sant Antoni Market, also adorned for Christmas like the other city markets.
- Passeig de Sant Joan. Once declared the second best street to live in the world, the Christmas decorations extend between the Arch of Triumph and Gran Via.
Christmas lights gardens
Els llums de Sant Pau
The Pedralbes district also gets full of Christmas magic. Previously celebrated in the gardens of the Pedralbes palace, now in the nearby gardens of Torre Girona, this light show that takes you into a surprising world of vegetal and animal light beings that aren’t just beautiful but also teach you about how nature works. Learn more and buy tickets here >>
Mars de llum de Nadal
The proposal of the Maritime Museum combines the magic of Christmas lights with a different way to visit their collection of old vessels, choir concerts and the discovery of the Baluard gardens, the gardens along the medieval walls that are rarely open to the public.
Best Barcelona Christmas lights tours
Barcelona christmas light bus tour
Like every Christmas, the Barcelona Bus Turistic hop-on hop-off bus opens a special route to show you the city Christmas lights. But unlike the daytime service, here you aren’t supposed to get in and out of the bus. It’s a bus itinerary without stops other than the red streetlights, and there’s only two departures every evening: 6.30PM and 8.30PM. The ride takes 1 hour and 20 minutes, and it requires a special ticket different from the daytime ticket.
Private Barcelona Christmas lights tour
Do you prefer a very exclusive and personalized experience? Contact us so we can design your own personal private tour of the Christmas lights of Barcelona. Get your own private tour guide for a couple of hours to explore the city illuminations as you learn about the local traditions, history and monuments (prices start from €275). Or add a private driver in a classy mercedes vehicle if you don’t like walking and prefer to drive around (chauffeured tours start from €675). We can even combine your Christmas lights tour with some tapas, or a flamenco show, or we can drop you off at one of the Christmas gardens so you can continue exploring it on your own!
Are you ready to enjoy the Christmas lights in Barcelona?
Marta is the founder of ForeverBarcelona. She is a passionate tour guide that loves Barcelona and loves writing too. She is the main author of our Blog, and is committed to sharing her knowledge about Barcelona and her best tips with our readers.
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