Enjoy Sitges at Christmas

In common with the rest of Spain, the Christmas season in Sitges has its tinsel clad kick off on December 8th. This is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception when lots of decorations go up in many homes.  Christmas may not be the biggest celebration in the Sitges calendar but, with a little help from the large ex-pat community, the coastal town is still full of seasonal good cheer, lights, markets, performances and lots of Christmas spirit.

So, how can you make the most of your Catalan-style Christmas on the Mediterranean? Here’s a quick roundup of what we think are some of the nicest events for the family to enjoy around the town.

Enjoy A Carol Concert
Take your pick from any of the carol concerts held during the festive season. This year, they include the Christmas Concert at Casino Prado and Christmas Carol Singing at El Retiro Theatre Hall.  Both events take place on Saturday 22nd December and admission is free.

See The Crib

Visit the Palau del Rei Moro (Palace of the Moor King) for the crib and nativity diorama. Occasionally, there are long queues, but they’re worth it to see the statues and objects representing the birth of Jesus.

In Cataluña only, nativity dioramas feature the Caganer, this is the figure of a Catalan man wearing peasant clothes and the traditional Catalan red cap.  You don’t have to look too closely to see that he is squatting down with trousers round his ankles going to the toilet.  Now you may think that the figure of man defecating in the place where Jesus was born is in bad taste, but there’s actually a good reason for it.

According to myth, this is actually a sign of good luck as the man’s bowel movements fertilise the ground for the following year’s harvest.  And well, if you’ve got to go, a stable is a better place than the living room!  Many people buy Caganer figures to take home as a souvenir.

Marvel At The Christmas Lights
During December, Sitges is lit up like a, well, like a Christmas tree. The lights are usually switched on for the first time at the beginning of the month.

See A Traditional British Pantomime
Treat the children to some thigh slapping fun at the Escorxador Theatre. The English Theatre Company usually put on a panto with gags galore, music and laughter. Previous productions have included Aladdin and Jack and the Beanstalk.

Go To The Christmas Fun Park
This is another children’s favourite. The park is located at the Pins Vens Pavilion and opens for a few days from the end of December. It features games, activities and a bouncy castle.

Stock Up On Christmas Goodies
Look for festive treats and artisan foods at the annual Christmas Fair Santa Lucia at the Oasis Centre. Buy a Caga-tio, a traditional Catalan Christmas log that features a happy face. The name translates as ‘pooh log’ and children are meant to look after it, so that on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day it will defecate lots of goodies.

Attend Midnight Mass
The Catholic mass is celebrated in Església Sant Joan on Christmas Eve and features the Gregorian chant The Song of Sibyl.

Go To The Beach
More often than not Christmas day is sunny and mild and a leisurely stroll on the beach is a popular activity on Christmas Day with visitors and locals alike.

Dine Out On Christmas Day
Have someone else cook the turkey and all the trimmings by dining out in a restaurant. You will need to book early to guarantee a place at the table.

Watch The Parade Of The Three Kings
In Spain, the Fiesta de los Reyes (three kings) is a much bigger deal than Christmas Day and this is when Spanish children receive the majority of their presents. The fiesta is celebrated on January 6th, and the night before, many towns and villages host the Three Kings Parade, Sitges included. The arrival of the Kings is a spectacular event in Sitges and it seems like the whole town turns out.

The three wise men – Balthazar, Gaspar and Melchior – head up a parade that departs from Plaza Fragata and proceeds through the town. They are followed by decorated floats, musical bands and people dressed in costumes. En route, the kings throw thousands of sweets out to the crowds.  Here’s a tip – bring an umbrella and turn it upside down to catch lots of the sugary treats.

Further Afield
There are plenty more activities you can enjoy while staying in Sitges at Christmas if you don’t mind travelling out of the town. Here are 3 of our favourites;

   Midnight Mass At Montserrat – what better way to get into the Christmas spirit than by attending midnight mass in the stunning Monastery of Montserrat, about an hour drive from Sitges.

The beautiful and historic Monastery sits on the side of a rugged mountain and has stunning vistas of the Catalan countryside. Get there before sunset and enjoy amazing views to the snow-capped Pyrenees mountains. The official website is http://www.abadiamontserrat.net.

   Fira de Santa Llúcia Christmas Market in Barcelona – dating back to 1787, the traditional Christmas market runs from the 26th of November to the 22nd of December around the city cathedral in the historic quarter of the city.

Nearly 300 stalls line the main cathedral square and the narrow Medieval streets surrounding it. The atmospheric market consists mainly of artisan stalls selling hand-made Christmas nativity figures and decorations. The impressive cathedral is well worth a visit while you are at the market. The official website in English for the Fira de Santa Llúcia is http://en.firadesantallucia.cat/.

   Skiing In The Pyreneesif you want a guaranteed white Christmas then head to the slopes of the many ski areas within a 3 hour drive of Sitges. The slopes are generally quiet around Christmas as it is not a major holiday for the locals. The nearest resort, and well within day trip distance, is Port del Comte with its attractive pine covered slopes and easy runs for the kids.The resort is 150kms or 2 hour drive from Sitges.For more information and snow reports see – http://www.portdelcomte.net/main.php.