5 Magical Spain Christmas Markets to Lose Yourself in this Holiday Season
Plaza Mayor Christmas Market, Madrid #visitspain
La Fira de Santa Llúcia Christmas Market, Barcelona #visitspain
Roasted chestnuts on the street, Seville #visitspain
Lifesize nativity scene #visitspain
Ok carolers, sing it with us... “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” That’s right, it’s the holiday season in Spain! The smell of roasted chestnuts fill the bustling city streets, sparkling holiday lights illuminate the biggest of avenues and tiniest of alleys, handcrafted nativity scenes decorate each plaza, and our favorite...Christmas markets! There’s nothing that embodies the holiday spirit in Spain better than its lively, magnificently magical Christmas markets. From homemade foods to handmade crafts, you can truly find everything your inner child (and outer adult) could ever dream of. Not to mention, you can buy some fabulous stocking stuffers! While you can certainly find countless festive markets big and small throughout the country, we’ve gathered five of the most traditional and iconic markets to visit this holiday season. Put on your holiday hat and take out that camera! Ready to dive in?
Mercado de Navidad de Plaza Mayor in Madrid
If you’re in Madrid during the holiday season, you absolutely cannot miss Madrid’s biggest and most emblematic Christmas market. Mercado de Navidad, literally translated to “Christmas Market”, takes up the entirety of Madrid’s Plaza Mayor, the city’s main historical square. It’s a scene straight out of a fairytale - sparkling lights dangle from the sky in the shape of gifts, kids laugh with animated jokesters in costume, and 104 stands create a maze of wonder, filled with handcrafted nativity scenes, ornaments, toys and other artisan goodies to take home for the holidays. (Open from Nov. 24th - Dec 31st.) Also check out: Feria Mercado de Artesanía in Paseo de Recoletos (new location) and year-round El Rastro market.
Fira de Santa Llúcia in Barcelona
Situated right outside of Barcelona’s main Cathedral, this market characterizes Catalan Christmas spirit. The market can be traced all the way back to (at least!) 1786, when merchants would sell their Christmas goods to local families. Today, the Christmas tradition is kept alive for tourists and locals alike. Wander through hundreds of festively decorated stands selling nativity figures, hand-carved decorations and local sweets. Insider tip: keep your eyes peeled for Tió Gegant or “Caga Tio” (which translates to “poop log”...), that yes, is a log that allegedly poops out sweets. On Christmas Eve, Catalan children beat the personified logs with sticks and sing songs, in hopes that it will “gift” them with sweets. (Open from Nov. 30th - Dec. 23rd). Also check out: Fira de Nadal at the Sagrada Familia
Feria del Belén (Seville)
In case you haven’t caught on by now, “Belenes” or nativity figures are an ever-so-iconic part of the Christmas magic in Spain. Artisans throughout Spain have been crafting Belenes for centuries, and the Feria del Belén in Seville is the perfect place to immerse yourself in this historical holiday tradition. Find the most detailed and elaborate figurines crafted by dedicated artisans, whose hands have been carving away at shepherds, sheep, Mary, Joseph, Jesus, The Three Kings, angels...you name it, and the market has hundreds of handmade and unique variations of it. (Open from Nov. 15th - Dec. 23rd) Also check out: Mercado Navideño de Artesanía in Plaza Nueva
Mercado de Navidad (Granada)
Follow the smells of freshly baked breads, traditional cakes and Moroccan spices into the festively lit Plaza Bib-Rambla, where Granada’s Mercado de Navidad livens up the historical square. The market gathers local artisans of all different specialties, from traditional Christmas craftsman selling classic beléns and other delicate decor, to modern artists showcasing their handmade jewelry and funky fabrications. (Open all of Dec. 2018 – 6. Jan. 2019) Also check out: the market in Puerta Real and other year-round market shopping.
Sant Tomas, Bilbao
We had to put at least one market on here dedicated to the embodiment of holiday season: FOOD. As the gourmet capital of Spain, it’s no surprise that the Basque Country is the region best-known for its holiday-time food markets. Brace yourself, foodies! In Bilbao, crowds of locals gather to sample, buy and enjoy everything from local cheeses, chorizo, jamón, “talo” corn tortillas, homemade honey and “rosquilla” donuts, to cups of txakoli wine, mulled wine...seriously, the list is never ending. As you chow down on local favorites, listen to traditional Basque improv singers and accordion players as they play the festive soundtrack to a day full of culinary celebration. (Dec. 21st). Also check out: Sant Tomas markets in San Sebastian.
Written by: Casie Tennin November 27, 2018.