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Barcelona, dreaming of a bright Christmas

If someone handed you the reins (or reindeer, as the case may be) to organise your own Christmas, where would you start? Of course, there’s no one way. But Christmas combines cultural, gastronomical, artistic and design elements into one festive, cohesive whole. Barcelona has done just that for Christmas 2020. Here’s a look at what the city has to offer this yuletide season.

Ray of light

Filament of imagination

Maria Güell is one of those responsible for brightening Barcelona this Christmas. As head of The Invisible lighting design lab, Güell has been chosen as a guest artist by Oriol Martí Sambola, the city’s creative director for Christmas, to design a huge light installation, set to involve projections dancing across special fabrics. Her work in previous years has seen Plaça Universitat, a large pedestrianised area in the city centre, transformed into a festive spectacle that city-goers wandered through happily. The Christmas lights are far from the only city projects that The Invisible’s Barcelona-based team has worked on – nor is Guëll the only artist tasked with making Barcelona’s festivities beautiful. But her work this year is certainly set to be among the most striking. Look out for it when the city is lit up.

Think feast

Seasonal flavour

Since opening Cocina Hermanos Torres restaurant in Les Corts district, the Torres brothers – Sergio and Javier – have established something of a culinary institution in Barcelona. Their garden-fresh haute cuisine with a twist would make jolly even the most discerning gastronome. Look out for a special Christmas menu, which will be bursting with rich, carefully appointed flavours.


Jingle lady

Caroled away

When Paula Valls began musical training aged five, she never dreamed that she’d be composing Barcelona’s 2020 Christmas jingle. But here she is, with a yuletide ditty that brings together more than a dozen musicians, including singers, a pianist, bassist, guitarist and string instrument players. “This jingle should give people something to shake their hips to,” says Valls. “This city is one of the most beautiful places over Christmas,” Valls says. “The jingle is an excuse for us all to celebrate.”


Family show

Leading a merry dance

Dancer and choreographer Sol Picó is no small deal in Spain – awarded the country’s National Dance award in 2016, her career spans more than three decades and her performances have graced cities across Europe. While she was born in Alcoi, Barcelona has become somewhat of a spiritual home for Picó. “Though I am not Catalan, I feel welcome and wanted,” she says, highlighting that the state awarded her one of its highest honours, La Creu de Sant Jordi, this year. To celebrate the city’s Christmas lights turning on, Picó is choreographing an eight-person show, with a live band and based on a narrative of a family drama. It’s a subject that’s close to home for many after this turbulent year. As for Picó, when she’s done she’ll be heading back to spend time with her own family in Valencia.


Oriol Martí Sambola

Barcelona’s creative director of Christmas

As Barcelona’s creative director of Christmas, Oriol Martí Sambola oversees everything from the city’s festive lighting to its seasonal markets. Exciting as it sounds, it’s a serious job and Martí pulls a lot of strings. Here, he tells us about his career path, the direction of Christmas 2020 and a couple of things to look forward to.

Q. How did you become Barcelona’s creative director of Christmas?
A. I’ve been in the world of the arts and public space for 20 years, directing performing arts, markets and founding a major street-art association. The city’s proposal to create a Christmas for Barcelona was attractive to me as I was born and still live here.

Q. What direction are you taking for Christmas 2020?
A. We want to bring together the economic and cultural components of the city. Christmas is important for shops, markets and restaurants – business factors which also tie into the city’s cultural dynamics.

Q. What else is in store?
A. There will be 40 days of activities in the 10 districts of the city and we’ll be opening with a dance show by Sol Picó. It’s a hymn to celebration – and to never losing hope.


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