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Posts Tagged ‘celebration’

spanish people love to celebrate and christmas is no exception in that regard! the festive period that proceeds christmas covers a large part of the december month and is build up by many national bank holidays. if you come to barcelona during the month of december, you should definitely have the following special dates in mind in order to fully experience the catalonian christmas vibe:

• 6 December – constitution day (bank holiday)
• 8 December – day of the immaculate conception (bank holiday)
• 25 December – christmas day (bank holiday)
• 26 December – boxing day (bank holiday in catalonia)
• 1 January – new year’s day (bank holiday)
• 5 January – parade of the three kings
• 6 January – three wise kings’ day (bank holiday)

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christmas lights in barcelona

christmas celebrations in spain basically implies many colourful christmas lights spread out over the city´s main streets and boulevards, extensively decorated nativity scenes and many food stalls selling sweet almonds or roasted chestnuts. all of this creates a lovely festive atmosphere that forms a warm welcome for all the tourists visiting spain at this time. for spanish people this time is characterized by many family gatherings and local customs as spain is a country with comprehensive cultural roots. below we will discuss the some of the most important events, main traditions and must-see sights in barcelona.

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hotel majestic 5* fully decorated for christmas

the real christmas holiday season in spain kicks off on december 8th with dia de la inmaculada concepcion (day of the immaculate cnception). this is a religious celebration and catholics around the country rejoice the magical “conception” of virgin mary in the local churches, but it’s also the time when the proper christmas preparations can start and all the stores in barcelona come to life with all kind of perky holiday decorations and music to cheer up the shoppers.

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el corte ingles, all lit up for christmas

to continue on the shopping note, christmas markets are probably the most common feature that pops to mind when talking about the christmas time for many people. barcelona is a city that upholds a strong christmas market tradition and every year both inhabitants and tourists can enjoy the beauty of the lit up stalls and the many special decorations and attributes that can be found there. the two most famous markets are the fira de santa llúcia christmas market and the fira de nadal at the sagrada familia.

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fira de santa llúcia

the fira de santa llúcia was first set up in 1786 and has since been one of the most important christmas fairs in town. its location, in front of the cathedral, and the fact is it is one of the oldest fairs in town contribute its importance as well. as is deeply rooted into the catalan christmas traditions, the market brings many stall that sell candles, scarves, sweets and of course nativity scenes, do not expect mulled wine here but enjoy over 270 stalls and live music instead. a very popular and traditional figure is “el caganer” (the pooper), to be found hidden in catalan nativity scenes and to be bought at all christmas markets. another special creature is the christmas “caga tio” (a smiley face log) from which the children receive their presents.

the market is open every day from the 28th of november till the 23rd of december from 10h30 until 20h30.

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many “caga tio” atributes are sold at the christmas markets in barcelona

the christmas market fira de nadal which is takes place in front of the sagrada familia every year and even tough it is much smaller than the fira de santa llucia yet very impressive due to its magical setting. It also focusses more on attributes that can be used to create a nice nativity scene. among others, one can find a wide selection of honey, sweets and candles.

this market is open every day from the 29th of november till the 23rd of december from 10h00 until 22h00.

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torre agbar during the month of december

when talking about christmas, the real city decorations can of course not be overlooked! here in barcelona the emblematic christmas lights were switched on by the mayor of barcelona, last friday and can be enjoyed in more than 300 locations and streets of the city. in catalan they are called “els llums de nadal”. the famous magic fountain of montjuic is part of the christmas lights as well and a special christmas water and music show can be enjoyed here in the december month. this show is always free and can be watched on fridays and saturdays in december and on 25th december and 1st january between 19:00 to 21:00. please keep in mind to dress warmly! another part of barcelona’s christmas lights is the torre agbar tower in the sant marti district, which lights up and shows a special christmas lights show displaying animated designs including christmas tree decorations.

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the montjuic fountain christmas-style

the three wise men parade on the 5th january is called the night of the three kings and marks more or less the end of the holiday season. here in spain, the christmas tradition is that the three kings bring the presents for the children instead of santa claus like in many other countries around the world. this night there is a big parade celebrating that the three kings have arrived and then, the day after the parade, on the 6th january, the children get their presents.

enjoy the most wonderful time of the year in barcelona!

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catalonia as a region is famous for many things, its beautiful beaches, is great modernista architecture, its passionate football mentality  and also for its delicious cava. the latter is  called the ´´champagne of spain´´ and is produced in one of the oldest viticultural regions in europe. this region, the penedès, is located a little south-west of barcelona and definitely worth a trip if you are visiting the capital of catalonia. its bubbles and culinary traditions have been attracting tourists and sparkling wine-lovers for decades and that is not for nothing!

a small historical recap shows us that this wine producing region finds its origin back in the days of the roman empire. the specific attributes that we were used by the romans then can now be found in the wine museum of vilafranca del penedes, one of the area´s most important wine towns. then, during the time of the moorish occupation, the wine produced here was exported to countries all over europe and even beyond, to south america (we are talking about the 18th century here!).

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endless vineyards in el penedés

then, things took a very interesting turn as the phylloxera plague occurred. this plague changed the course of growth and the type of the grapes as they were now slowly changed into white ones instead of red ones. the latter resulted in the start of the production of cava around the 1870s. the white grapes are currently the most dominant ones in the region as the red wine production only plays a small role in the landscape of the vineyards in the penedès region.

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white grapes now prevail in the region

the penedès area is currently seen as one of the most modern and innovative spanish wine regions. their grapes have been widely researched by wine pioneer miguel torres and he is the one who provided the region the fame it enjoys today. 95 % of all the cava produced in spain finds in origin in the penedès region and in 1991 the region got recognized as a DO region, in catalan: a denominació d’origen region. this means that the wine produced here is officially recognized and it is even seen as one of the best of spain after the rioja area.

Ruta del Vino del Penedes. Caves Pere Ventura

the famous codorniu caves in the penedes area

cava is produced using grapes from different regions and blending them into a perfect mix of delicious bubbles. if you get bored by just drinking the ´´normal´´ plain cava, you should definitely try the rosé version that consists of 3 different types of grapes, the xarel.lo, macabeo and parellada. moreover, there are many young wines produced in this region, white ones that are very fruity and crisp whereas the red one are more full-bodied and aromatic, characterized by an intense red color. although, the is apparently some choice in other wines, cava stays our favorite!

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cava label

we recommend to visit the penedès as it is the centre of one of the most fascinating wine regions in spain, full of history and culture. the spanish rail system is a very handy way to travel down the penedès and from barcelona, it’s just 90 minutes to tarragona. this trip takes you along the a catalonian coast where you will find some beautiful small towns such as cadaqués, a colourful fishing village was the birthplace of salvador dali. you can stop at several wine cellars along the trip and do a winetasting while your at it! another options is to stop in the beautiful beach town sitges (check our earlier post about this famous town) and enjoy a day at the beach and a night full of partying. all in all, we can state that this regions has an overwhelming amount of choice when it comes to leisure combined with the typical catalonian culture.

please contact us for more information or requests!

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the stunning landscape of the penedian vineyards

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now that the sun is back on track it is time to enjoy a well-deserved break by the sea. and where better to hit the beach than in the charming town of sitges, located 35 km southwest of barcelona. this worldwide renowned city is most famous for its many beaches (there are 17!) and its vibrant nightlife. especially the waterfront with the numerous ´playas´ (beaches) is the perfect place to enjoy a delicious paella, play some volleyball with your friends or have a picnic while watching the magnificent sunset.

however, if working on your tan is not captivating enough, there is always the possibility to go and check out the fashionable crowd that strolls over Sitges´ endless boulevard. no doubt that you will encounter some interesting characters as many of Sitges´ visitors and inhabitants are gay. this aspect gives the city a special touch and contributes to the great variety of people and activities that create the open and friendly atmosphere. all caracteristic for this small town.

Sitges Boulevard

sitges´ boulevard

Sitges beach

sitges´ beach 

many people say that sitges has something for everyone and that is hard to deny! with its many festivals and local fiestas during the whole year, the cultural heritage of the city is celebrated and everybody is welcome to join the festivities. this past weekend was dedicated to the celebration of festa major and next in line is the international movie festival in october. 

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sitges´s old town

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festa major 

sitges is the perfect destination for a weekend break or a short getaway from busy barcelona. trains take you from barcelona to sitges in approximately 35 minutes and run every 20 min from barcelona’s main stations. below some more pictures of the stunning beaches, the beautiful old town and the endless boulevard of sitges. 

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catedral de sitges

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sitges´ harbour and boulevard

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arriba,

abajo,

al centro,

pa dentro!

…would say the spanish when sharing a drink with friends. it is just one of the hispanic drinking rituals, a game, a phrase said before having the drinking which literally means up, down, to the centre, inside! and it is not the only tradition they ´serve´ with their many drinks specialties! apart from a wide range of famous wines (perhaps most notably the rioja and the ribera de duero), the spanish people have embedded in their traditions some other delicious drinks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic, which have become must-tries while in spain.

 

sangria – the world-renowned king of spanish drinks, it has become synonymous with the spanish summer, the august heat, or one-of-those-spanish-things you have to try in spain. it is a mix of red wine (hence the name, which comes from ´sangre´, the spanish word for ´blood´) and lemon or orange juice, a variety of fruit and for a true kick a splash of brandy or rum, depending on where it has been prepared. a true summer must!

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cava – typical catalan drink from the penedes region. it is the most popular spanish sparkling wine, usually white or rosé. this drink is best appreciated during spanish celebrations, whether during a wedding, a birthday or the winter holidays.

cava by arlo j and by angela llopcava  cellary in penedes

 

horchata de chufa – some might say that while in valencia, there are two things you must try, one is the famous and highly-sought paella, the other one is the less-known milky-looking drink that is horchata. it is a non-alchoholic summer drink, made of water, sugar and chufas, which are valencian tigernuts. horchata is one of the main legacies left by the moors during their domination over the spanish territory, so by trying it you can be proud you have tasted some hundreds years of spanish culture!

horchata and fartons by dayer3 and by duncanhorchata is best served with another valencian treat, the sweet ´fartons´

 

cider – this is a typical low alcohol drink from the asturias region, with its own  protected designation of origin ´sidra de asturias´, a natural apple cider that has been produced here for centuries. the cider tradition is not as wide-spread here in spain as it is, for example, in the uk. here the cider has remained traditionally apple based, following the old asturian recipes, without mixing it with other fruit or artificial flavours.

not only in the north of spain, but throughout the country, you will be expected to enjoy a cider by pouring it the traditional way. this is done by holding the bottle horizontally high above your head and letting the drink pour slowly into the glass you are holding as low as you can. this tradition has a scientific reason behind it, as it allows the cider to oxygenate and become bubbly, but ultimately it is a fun way of drinking and it allows you to act and look quite silly doing it!

sidra by iván villar and by lluriPhotonot everybody looks this professional when pouring cider the traditional way!

 

rebujito – this is a typical sherry mix popular in the southern region of andalucia. it combines sherry, a mixture of sugar and soda, ice and mint. add a slice of orange and two straws to make it ideal for lovers, which is the way it was originally served! even though the idea of this cocktail is not 100% spanish, with roots in the english ´sherry cobbler´, it is now known in spain as the star of the andalucian festivals, starting with the famous april fair in seville.

rebujito by fran linerosflamenco dancers enjoying a rebujito during the april fair

 

orujo – a strong spirit made from the skins of grapes, known in other parts of the world as schnapps or marc. here in spain it is a type of ´aguardiente´, which shows how strong the drink is, since it can be translates as ´burning water´! the orujo is very popular in the north, in the region of cantabria (where it even has a festival, and where people take the art of tasting it very seriously) and moving a bit to the west, in galicia, where you will also find the ´orujo cream´. this is a traditional creamy mix of orujo, condensed milk, coffee and cocoa powder, with a touch of vanilla. if you are serving this drink to impress your galician friends, make sure you prepare it in advance, as it tastes better if you let it rest overnight.

orujo by aherrero and by jose.jhga chupito of aguardiente (a shot of this burning water) and its cousin, the orujo cream, which is typically home-made

 

´anís del mono´ – literally translated as the ´monkey´s anisette´, is another very popular liquor from badalona, in catalonia. this is a truly emblematic drink and brand in spain, everything from its history, its factory, its advertising and packaging, its founder and its story is legendary and somehow wrapped in a magical aura. more than 140 years old, the brand has allegedly used charles darwin as an inspiration for the image on the bottle, also it launched spain´s first lighted billboard in puerta del sol, in 1913. the bottle itself almost has a celebrity status, it has a statue in badalona, it has appeared in ´the godfather´ movie, it has been also painted by juan gris and exhibited in the reina sofia museum.

anis by lapendejajuan gris´ 1914 collage of the anis label, the famous bottle and the statue in badalona

 

drinking is, without doubt, a large tradition in the spanish life, whether at home with a meal, or out with friends, or for a special celebration, or friday after work… but their way of drinking is more a social activity than a meaningless act of drinking, it is a celebration of being alive and enjoying life, enjoying the presence of the dear ones, the quality of the food, the weather, or the never-ending discussions about the political and social events of the day…

spanish people consider drinking in moderation to be a healthy sign; because of that, when they cheer, they actually say health in spanish:

¡salud!

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