Madrid is split into different barrios (districts) and given that each one has its own fiesta celebrations at different times of the year, you will never be bored in Madrid. You will also find other places outside of Madrid city centre, which have their own festival traditions. Each place will have a time to shine during the year when it’s their turn to host a “fiesta”. Let’s have a look through the Madrid calendar and see what the city and the surrounding area have to offer.
Nochevieja (New Year’s Eve) in Madrid is a very important fiesta. It is of course celebrated all over the city, as indeed all over the world, but Puerta del Sol is the place where all the action takes place. There is a tradition of eating one grape for each chime of the bell at midnight.
Semana Santa (Easter week) – These processions and celebrations aren’t as big as they are in Andalucía in Southern Spain, but there are an increased number of church services and religious processions through the streets. The Plaza de las Comendadoras in the “Universidad” (university) district also hosts an Artisans and Ceramic Fair during this week. There is a small town called Chinchón not too far from the city where a Passion Play takes place, which attracts many people.
Fiesta de Mayo – Similar to our “May Day”, on the 1st May, celebrations are held in the nearby towns of Ajalvir, Casarrubuelos, Frenso de Torote and Torrelaguna.
Las Mayas – On the first Sunday of May, the district of Lavapiés has a tradition that every street chooses a May Queen, who spends the day sitting, and receiving flowers and homage from the public.
El 2 de Mayo – This is a Madrid fiesta celebrating the uprising of Madrid against Napoleon and the French troops on 2nd May 1808. The attempts were brutally repressed by the French and many people lost their lives. The square Plaza del Dos de Mayo played the most significant part in these events and therefore the celebrations take place there, in the area of Malasaña, in the University district.
Fiesta de San Isidro – this fiesta on the 15th May is an important day all over the city, as San Isidro is the patron saint of Madrid. There is a lot of focus on the bullfighting fair, the Feria Taurina, which takes place in Las Ventas bullring. The heart of the festival is Plaza Mayor, which has a stage in the middle during this time for music performances.
La Fiesta de San Juan – This fiesta is celebrated in the Retiro district, in the famous Parque del Retiro and involves a lot of drinking and dancing around the bonfire during the days of 23rd and 24th June.
On the 14th July, there is a bull-fighting festival in La Puebla de Montalban, near Toledo just outside of Madrid.
Fiestas de la Virgen del Carmen – Around the 16th July, the district of Chamberí hosts these religious festivities. You will find an array of events and music performances.
The Fiesta of Santa Ana – During the end of July, this festival takes place in a town called Alameda del Valle, involving a religious procession that carries a picture of Santa Ana for 3 kilometres from the church, to the Ermita de Santa Ana (chapel).
During the first half of August, there are three festivals in the city which go hand in hand. The San Cayetano, San Lorenzo and the Virgen de la Paloma host the famous Spanish “open-air street parties”, verbenas, in neighbouring areas. The areas of Lavapiés, La Latina, and Las Vistillas are decorated for the occasion, and people take to the streets in their traditional “chulapo” outfits (folk dress) and “mantones” (embroidered scarves) and dance the traditional Madrilean “chotis” dance. There is a lively atmosphere of dances and celebrations that involve the whole city. “Fiesta de San Lorenzo” is also celebrated by the nearby town of San Lorenzo del Escorial, still within the province of Madrid, on the 10th August.
Fiesta de San Roque – The small town of Chinchón hosts celebrations for this festival. People can go and watch bullfights and enjoy “anís” tasting, between the 12th and 18th August.
Fiestas de San Bartolomé – There are celebrations around the 24th August in the close university town of Alcalá de Henares, with processions, theatre and bullfights all as part of the entertainment.
You will find traditional encierros (“bull-running”) during the last week of August in the nearby town of San Sebastián de los Reyes.
“El Motín de Aranjuez” is celebrated in the town of Aranjuez at the beginning of September, marking the abdication of King Carlos IV in 1808. The public can enjoy open air concerts, firework displays, and bullfights in the town.
Fiesta de la Almudena– On the 9th November, this fiesta is another celebration of a patron saint, Madrid is filled with religious processions in the area surrounding the cathedral, where flowers are laid outside to worship the “Virgen de la Almudena”, the female patron saint of Madrid.
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