The wassailing of Christmas and New Year is over, but in Spain the best is yet to come, with the advent (or – more precisely – Epiphany) of the Three Kings on January 5th and all the associated festivities.
After that the city winds right down and you’ll find quiet, tourist-free streets, empty stools at your favourite bar, museums to yourself, and, best of all, the bluest skies of the entire year.
Forty ballerinas from the Russian National Ballet, along with the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, come together to perform the magical Swan Lake in the plush environs of the Gran Teatre del Liceu for three days only. Tickets are selling out fast, so book as early as you can, and don’t forget to dress the part.
When: 1st, 4th & 5th January
Where: Gran Teatre del Liceu
More info: liceubarcelona.cat
A new monthly venture from Barcelona’s ever-growing band of youthful and hip ethical gourmands. Expect food stalls from Slow Foodies, craft beer breweries, single-origin coffee aficionados and the best ethnic eateries around the city, as well as kooky fashion and plenty of vinyl. Set in the rather lovely gardens of the Palo Alto industrial complex.
When: 3rd & 4th January
Where: Carrer de Pellaires 30, Poblenou
More info: paloaltomarket.com/
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me – three kings in full regalia, two lorryloads of boiled sweets and one citywide parade of spectacular floats, giant animatronics and prancing stallions. The kings are greeted by the mayor in the late afternoon and then make their way through the endless lines of upturned children’s faces for the next three or so hours.
When: 5th January
Where: Around the city
More info: bcn.cat/nadal
Last chance to see this delightful little exhibition, which brings together a collection of small, beautifully elaborate paintings and sculptures from the Prado museum in Madrid. There are works by Velázquez, Goya, Titian and others.
When: Until 10th January
More info: obrasocial.lacaixa.es
Warm the cockles of your heart and tips of your fingers with a cup of hot chocolate in the lovely old Granja, which serves every sort imaginable, from the straightforward suizo, topped with whipped cream to chocolate flavoured with chilli. At the far end of the café is a section of the city wall dating back to Roman times.
Where: Carrer de Banys Nous 4, Barri Gòtic
Museu del Disseny
After many years in the making, the Design Museum is finally up and running, and incorporates the former Textile and Clothing, Decorative Arts and Ceramics museums. Housed in a futuristic building (known as the ‘Hammer’, for its shape) hanging precariously over the Plaça de les Glòries, it offers free entrance until 15th January.
When: Until 15th January
Where: Plaça de les Glories Catalanes 37-38, Poblenou
More info: museudeldisseny.cat
Els Tres Tombs
The feast day of St Anthony, patron saint of animals is celebrated with a horse-drawn parade that takes three turns (tres tombs) around the neighbourhood of Sant Antoni, after which he is named. Look out for the giant papier-mâché pig – which symbolizes the form the devil took while tempting the future saint – and another two tons of boiled sweets, scattered over the eager crowd.
When: January 17th
Where: Sant Antoni
More info: bcn.cat
Bristol-based singer-songwriter Fink blew everyone away with his last, electric, gig in Barcelona in 2013, so expect this one to sell out. The Sala Bikini is not the most central of venues, but the acoustics and production values make up for it.
When: 23rd January
More info: bikinibcn.com
Sebastião Salgado: Genesis
The latest in Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgados series of themed exhibitions looks at the origins of the world in which we live, via photos of unknown landscapes and unvisited tribes, and nature at its most wild.
When: Until 8th February
More info: obrasocial.lacaixa.es
For obvious reasons, Ai Weiwei won’t be attending his exhibition in Barcelona any time soon, but his protest against the Chinese government lives on in the shape of these forty pieces, including photos, installations and videos.
When: Until 1st February
Where: La Virreina
More info: lavirreina.bcn.cat