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Summary: With mild temperatures, traditional Catalan events and foods, and Gaudis fascinating structures, unique Barcelona is a vibrant destination for a special city break. Its no wonder Barcelona is the 4th most-visited European city; this Catalan city buzzes with culture, seasonal fayre and entertainment year-round and does not go to sleep during the winter months. There is always a festive event somewhere, and Barcelona is more accessible without the summer tourists. It`s not a bikini holiday, but for an alternative winter break, this festive city is perfect. Most people think of Las Ramblas when they think of Barcelona. This wide tree-lined, 1.2 km, Pedestrian Boulevard sweeps through the city centre where the visitor is treated to a sensual feast. At the southern end, a 60 metre high monument to Spains famous explorer Christopher Columbus looms above the harbour, where every Christmas day brave and madcap revellers begin their 20-metre swim across the harbour. Artists sell portraits of tourists (a great Christmas gift) and impressive brightly painted live statues stun visitors with their perfectly-still theatre. I prefer to take one of the many streets shooting off the Ramblas and explore the little jewellery, gift shops and unusual boutiques where I buy unique presents and many exciting treasures for myself. With fewer tourists its much easier to find great http://www.lastminute.com/hotels-d8910-barcelona-hotels.This eccentric city is a great destination for a winter break with mild temperatures of 13°-17°. Stare up in awe at Guadis fairy-tale Sagrada Familia cathedral, a World Heritage Site despite not yet being finished after 130 years. The intricate and fantastical carvings adorning every millimetre of the building are a wondrous feat of imagination. I love Barcelonas vibrant classical Catalan Christmas markets, The Fira de Santa Llucia being the most famous. Look for ornate nativity pieces, much more original than baubles and tinsel. The traditional Catalan `caganer`, a little squatting figurine with his trousers round his ankles, is very amusing. Apparently, this delightful man is a traditional Christmas decoration. Look out for the traditional smiling Caga Tio logs, which children fill with treats, then bash with a stick to retrieve the sweets on Christmas Day. On Christmas day I walk along one of Barcelonas 8 beaches. Barcelona beaches were voted amongst the top 10 city beaches in the world, and with white sands just 10-20 minutes` walk from the city you can look out at the blue sea under the sunlit azure sky. Youll be in jeans rather than a sarong, but the sun will be shining. The sea temperature at this time of year averages about 13°, you might even paddle! The Catalans really know how to party, and it`s great fun joining in the Three Kings Parade on the 5th January trying to catch the sweeties the kings helpers throw out at the crowds. I cant resist the smell of the roasted chestnuts and sweet potatoes cooking on little stalls around the city, or the hot chocolate and fried batter as dusk descends. This is the best place to find traditional turron (nougat) to send home as gifts for Christmas stockings. Barcelona is extraordinary year-round, but in the winter it is great for the curious traveller looking for the perfect winter city breaks. Visitors will find themselves in a whirlwind of street fetes, unusual markets, 24-hour art and drama, stunning architecture, artisan delights and traditional Catalan foods and culture, all under a cool cobalt sunlit sky. http://www.lastminute.com/site/travel/holidays/citybreaks/barcelona.html winter snow