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Eight Festivals in Madrid You Should Not Miss

1 de April de 2020 

Madrid is a great place to visit all year round. The city is known for its notable nightlife and richness in history and culture. Aside from its amazing nightlife and history, Madrid also boasts its noteworthy festivals. You would not want to miss experiencing at least one of their festivals. So if you’re planning a visit to the city, you can consider scheduling it during one of their festivals. We’ve listed some of their famous festivals that you might want to add on your to-do lists. 

  1. Epiphany (January)

Epiphany is an important feast celebrated across the country. Madrid celebrates and commemorates the Epiphany with processions around the city with the three wise men throwing sweets to children. Traditionally, Spanish kids do not receive gifts from Santa Claus on Christmas Day but from the Three Kings on the Epiphany. Spaniards also eat a King’s Cake or Roscon de Reyes on this day and whoever finds a small trinket will receive good fortune for the coming year.  


  1. Dos de Mayo (May 2)

Dos de Mayo is a commemoration of the uprising of the people of Madrid against the troops of Napoleon on May 2, 1808 in Puerta del Sol. This led to the War of Independence and the defeat of the French occupiers. A 17-year-old local girl Manuela Malasaña was one of the heroines of the war. Today, Madrileños celebrate the day with dancing, concerts, and sporting events at the Plaza del Dos de Mayo. 


  1. San Isidro (May 15)

San Isidro is the patron saint of Madrid. He was a poor farmer in the 12th century and was said to be capable of performing two things at once. Madrileños celebrate the feasts through theater, music, and family activities. Giants and Bigheads’ parade is one of the highlights of the festival. The parade features gigantic papier-mache figures exhibited through the streets. The fiesta also includes major bullfights held at Las Ventas bullring, which is the largest bullfight event in the world. The bullfights are participated by some of the best fighters and breeders. Many Madrileños wear traditional costume, women in intricately embroidered dresses and grey flat caps and waistcoats for men, during the festivities. The festival lasted for nine days.


  1. San Cayetano (August 2-8)

San Cayetano is one of the three August fiestas or verbenas of Madrid. The festival includes open-air festivities participated by the public. The celebrations are held in the Rastro and Embajadores. Expect to see Madrileños dancing in chulapos, traditional Madrid clothes. The streets are decorated with hanging lanterns. Other activities include costume competitions and open-air concerts. In terms of religious activities, a procession of San Cayetano is being held on the 7th of August around the Plaza de Cascorro and surrounding streets. Locals and procession participants tried to get hold of a carnation, as legend says that whoever gathers the most flowers will be favored by the saint.  


  1. San Lorenzo (August 9-11)

San Lorenzo is a 3rd century martyr. His festivity comes next from August 9 to 11. The activities are held in Lavapies, one of the most multicultural neighborhoods in the city. Just like San Cayetano, the celebration includes costumes, street dancing, and concerts. It also involves plenty of eating and drinking, most people head out at dusk to enjoy a drink and tapas. The festival also hosts activities for children. Religious activities include a special mass and procession in honor of the patron. 


  1. La Paloma (August 12-15)

La Paloma is the final summer verbenas of Madrid and the biggest and most popular. It is being held from August 12 to 15 around La Latina, one of the oldest areas in the city. The festival honors Virgen de La Paloma (Virgin of the Dove). It includes traditional zarzuelas (Spanish operatic theatre), street dancing, and plenty of eating, drinking, and partying. On the last of the festival, the traditional taking down of the painting of the Virgin is held. The canvas was initially hung by Isabel Tintero in the doorway of her home in Calle de la Paloma. The festival dates back in 1787 when the painting was found.  


During these three verbenas (which means street party or open-air dance. Madrileños wear their traditional dress called chulapas and chulapos, women wear polka dot dresses or ruffled skirts with a shawl while white shirt, grey waistcoat, and flat cap for men. They are dancing chotis, a traditional folk dance in which female dancers move around their male partners who remain on their spot. 

The streets are decorated with bunting. Restaurants and bars set up stalls outside can mingle with others and enjoy the activities on the streets. 


  1. Festival de Otoño (Autumn Festival)

Festival de Otoño starts during the first week of October and lasts for one month. It is one of the top music festivals in Spain participated by music, dance, and theater companies from around the world. Prestigious activities are held in the main theaters including Teatro Madrid, Teatro Albeniz, the Circulo de Bellas Artes, and the Teatro de la Zarzuela.  


  1. New Year’s Eve (December 31)

In terms of welcoming the New Year, Puerta del Sol has become Madrid’s counterpart of Trafalgar Square in London. Thousands of locals and neighborhoods gathered in the area waiting for the twelve bells at midnight. It has been their tradition to eat a grape everytime the bell sounds intending to finish the last grape on the twelfth bell. It is believed that it will bring them good luck for the rest of the year. The crowd spreads out around the city after the bells and continue with their own New Year’s celebration. 


If you have plans to attend some of the festivals, make sure to be prepared for an extra crowd. Be ready to party and have fun with the locals. You might want to try eating grapes while the bell rings at Puerta del Sol or wear their traditional costumes and dance on the streets. Experience Madrid’s festivities and their love for festivals and celebrations.  


Last update 01/04/2020 10:37:01

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