Festa Santa Eulàlia Barcelona's Winter Festival

Updated Mar 04 2022

The Santa Eulàlia Festival in Barcelona, also known as the main winter festival of the city, as it is held in the central period of the winter season or known simply as “La Laia” (another name for Santa Eulàlia), is surely the most important popular festival of Barcelona after La Mercè festival. One of the reasons why so much importance is given to this festival is because it celebrates the memory of Santa Eulàlia, the co-patroness of Barcelona.

Who was Santa Eulàlia

Born in the current Sarrià district of Barcelona, Santa Eulàlia was a child who professed the Christian religion between the end of the 3rd century AD and the beginning of the 4th century AD.

According to legend, when she was only 13 years old and faced with the constant repression of Emperor Diocletian against the Christians, she turned to the governor of Barcino, present-day Barcelona, to recriminate these actions.

The governor did not fear the young age of the girl and forced her to renounce the Christian religion. In response to her refusal, Santa Eulàlia was sentenced to a total of 13 martyrdom, one for every year of her age.

After stoically suffering each of the martyrs, she was finally crucified. Her remains now rest in the Cathedral of Barcelona, whose official name is the Cathedral of Santa Creu and Santa Eulàlia of Barcelona.

Information and activities during the Santa Eulàlia Festival

Tradition and popular culture are the main focus of the activities scheduled during the Santa Eulàlia Festival. Both are united in each edition with the intention of offering Barcelona residents, as well as to anyone who wishes to join the celebrations, a variety of activities, events and interesting proposals.

And while it is true that the vast majority of the programme’s activities focus on popular culture and traditions, entertainment has not been forgotten, as the ultimate goal is that everyone who participates can enjoy themselves and have fun, whether with their family, their partner and also with their friends.

2023 edition: Dates, official programme and other details
Santa Eulàlia 2022

Dates: 10th, 11th and 12th February 2023 (to be confirmed).
Where: several locations in the Ciutat Vella district.
Price: the activities are free.


Santa Eulàlia Programme: most interesting and important activities and events

Although there are many activities and cultural proposals scheduled during the Santa Eulàlia Festival, there are some of them that, for different reasons, such as having a long tradition behind them, a great spectacle and innovation in its staging or the ability to attract crowds of people in each edition, is worth highlighting.

Thanks to the festival protocol that has been in place for a number of years, scheduled activities tend to remain constant. Even so, some new activities are often incorporated, with the aim of encouraging the citizens of Barcelona and the rest of Catalonia to continue participating in the festivities.

Featured events location map

Plaça Sant Jaume: the main location for several events

The place where many of the most representative activities and events of the Santa Eulàlia Festival take place is Plaça Sant Jaume (square).

Therefore, it is the place where a large number of activities from the programme take place; reading the traditional opening speech that inaugurates the festivities and which is read from the balcony of Barcelona City Hall; the impressive display of the Falcons of Barcelona and the traditional folk dances of Catalonia, which take place on a stage set up for the occasion; the long-awaited castellers human towers display; the lively dance of the popular bestiary of the city during the so-called Protocol of the Eagle and even some of the activities included in the Llum BCN Festival.

Santa Eulàlia festival photo gallery

Llum BCN Festival: Popular festival traditions

The Llum BCN Festival (in English, Festival of Light), is one of the most innovative events during the Santa Eulàlia Festival and, as its name indicates in Catalan, the real star of the show is light.


During its celebration, several public and private locations in the city, both squares, courtyards and other outdoor spaces, as well as historic public and private buildings, and/or those of certain interest in the Ciutat Vella district, become the setting for urban light shows.

Although the proposals change with each edition, it often includes video mapping projections on the façade of some buildings and various shows and performances that use their own lighting elements and the great visual impact provided by the particular lighting of each location. Students from different schools of lighting, design, architecture and art in Barcelona usually take part in the Llum BCN Festival.

Llum BCN Festival dates and location

Due to the great specific importance that the Llum BCN Festival has experienced over the last few years and so that its celebration does not alter the programme of the more traditional activities of the Santa Eulàlia Festival nor the crowds of people enjoying them, in some years the Llum BCN Festival is sometimes held on different dates to the other activities of the festivities.

Dates: 3rd, 4th and 5th February 2023.
Where: squares, patios and buildings in Ciutat Vella district.
Program and map 2022: Consult the information here (2023 to be published).

Les Laies

The co-patroness of Barcelona, as it should be, is one of the great protagonists of several of the activities that are organised during the festival. Among the most outstanding are the Parade and Dance of Santa Eulàlia, the exhibition of giants and “gigantonas” “Les Laies” and the “Eulàlia” dance show that takes place inside the Cathedral of Barcelona.

Where: several points around Ciutat Vella.
+Info (2023): Official programme (see the link above).

Bestiary, giants and big heads

The varied cast of bestiaries, giants and big heads (in Catalan, “bestiari”, “gegants” and “capgrossos”) of the city of Barcelona (and in several occasions also from another Catalan town who has been invited to take part) take over the streets and squares of the district of Ciutat Vella.

A few days before the celebrations, these characteristic elements of the popular tradition are exhibited in some characteristic place in the district, normally in the Palau de la Virreina or in the Patio Manning (next to the Center of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona), both in the neighbourhood of El Raval. And during the rest of the year, the vast majority are exhibited in the Casa dels Entremesos, in the neighbourhood of Sant Pere, Santa Caterina and La Ribera-Born.

Where: plaça Sant Jaume (square) and other spaces in Ciutat Vella.
+Info (2023): Official programme (see the link above).

Open doors and free visits

On 12th February, Santa Eulàlia Day, several museums and public and private spaces in Barcelona organise an open doors day. Activities and workshops are even organised to make the day a true holiday. Below you will find a selection of the places that, a priori, we think are the most interesting when visiting and accessing its interior.


The schedule and entry conditions may vary from place to place. Some museums or spaces may decide to allow free entry not only on 12th February, but also on all the days that the festivities last. We suggest you visit the official website of each of these places for more information.

Santa Eulàlia 2023 open doors

Castellers, Falcons and other traditions

Surely, one of the events that attracts the most people is the Castellera (human towers) display which is held in the plaça Sant Jaume (square). Even so, no less spectacular are the figures and shapes of the Falcons of Barcelona, so we encourage you to go to enjoy their incredible skills, also in the Plaza de Sant Jaume.

Other outstanding popular traditions are the displays of popular dances and the “ballades de Sardanes” (Sardanas dances) as well as the “Matinada de Grallers” that, in the very early morning, are dedicated to waking up the Gothic Quarter with their melodies, and the spectacular correfocs (fire-runs), which also offer a version aimed at children.

Where: several streets and squares in Ciutat Vella.
+Info (2023): Official programme (see the link above).

Is Santa Eulàlia a public holiday in Barcelona?

Por normal general, el día de Santa Eulalia (12 de febrero) no es un día festivo en Barcelona. Lo que ocurre es que, los años en los que algún día que está definido como festivo cae en domingo, la Generalitat de Catalunya o el Ayuntamiento de Barcelona (en función del tipo de fiesta que sea) eligen otro día considerado particular o de cierto interés como nuevo festivo. El año en el que se da esta circunstancia, es habitual que el día de Santa Eulalia pase a ser un día festivo en la ciudad de Barcelona.

As a general rule, Santa Eulàlia (12th February) is not a public holiday in Barcelona. What happens is that, the years when a day that is considered a public holiday falls on a Sunday, the Government or the Barcelona City Council (depending on the type of holiday it is) choose another day that is considered special or of certain interest as a new public holiday. On the year when this happens, Santa Eulàlia Day usually becomes a public holiday in the city of Barcelona.

Discovering the origin and evolution of the Santa Eulàlia Festival

Despite the fact that the legend of Santa Eulàlia dates back to the 4th century A.D., being canonised in 633, and taking into account the fact that it was officially the only patron saint of Barcelona until 1868, the celebration of the Santa Eulàlia Festival as we know it today, has a fairly recent and easily identifiable origin.

It is true that in past centuries there has been evidence of some celebrations in memory of Santa Eulàlia, such as dances and popular games, but they were in specific periods and did not have any continuity. In 1983, the “colles” (groups) of giants of the Pi and plaça Nova had the initiative to organise a series of activities to form some festivities that matched the historical figure that represents the co-patroness of Barcelona.

Thanks to the later support of the “colles” of Giants and Bestiary of Ciutat Vella, a programme was completed that included several popular cultural proposals. The fact that these entities were responsible for shaping the current Santa Eulàlia Festival, explains why they have so many activities related to tradition and popular culture and why the vast majority of cultural activities are organised in the district of Ciutat Vella. Today, and since the 90’s, the festival has a defined protocol and programme, to which certain modifications have been added.

Official portal to supplement the information

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