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TOURIST INFORMATIONLOCAL FESTIVALS24 JANUARY 2021

FESTIVALS OF MADRID

Fiestas de San Cayetano

 

FESTIVALS OF SAN CAYETANO, SAN LORENZO AND LA PALOMA

Date: Festival of San Cayetano  5-8 August Festival of San Lorenzo 8-11 August; Festival of Virgen de la Paloma 14-17 August

 

 

These three festivals are the most popular ones of Madrid, and they are celebrated one after the other during the summer in the neighbourhoods of Cascorro, Lavapiés and La Latina, attracting a wide range of crowds. The cultural mixture during these festivals is so prominent that the posters in the streets promoting have started to be printed in Chinese and Arabic too. 

For more than 15 days, the streets in these neighbourhoods are full of "verbenas" (open-air bars) and concerts to cheer up the neighbours and the tourists. The traditional outfits during these festivals comprise those of "maja" (inhabitant of the working-class neighbourhoods of Madrid in the 18th and 19th centuries) and "manola" (Madrid woman characterized by flamboyant zarzuela-type costume), and those of "chulapo" and "chispero," following the traditional clothes.

Festival of San Cayetano

This is the first of the three festivals most relevant of Madrid, honouring San Cayetano, patron saint of the Providence and protector of the women in labour. Due to the location of the church dedicated to this saint, the verbena takes place mainly in the neighbourhood of El Cascorro and El Rastro, where people drink sangria (an iced drink made of red wine with fruit juice), lemonade, and enjoy the music dancing at the decorated plazas and streets. Following the tradition, after the religious parade, the people take a flower from the decorated floats and pray to the saint for food and work for one more year. 

Festival of San Lorenzo

The festival dedicated to San Lorenzo takes place in the neighbourhood of Lavapiés, where the old Jewish and Moorish quarter used to be. In fact, it is said that the church of San Lorenzo was built on a synagogue due to its relative small size. Among the traditional outfits during the verbena, the typical "manolo" one is the most prominent, referring to the nickname "manolo" for those whose name was "Manuel."

Festival of La Paloma

After the two previous festivals, there is the festival of La Paloma in the neighbourhood of Fuentecilla. The celebration starts on the 15th of August at around 8pm. The devotion for Virgen de La Paloma in Madrid dates back to 1790, when a woman called Isabel Tintero placed the first image of this virgin at her home entrance. From that moment on, neighbours went to her house to ask for remedies and protection for their family. Because of the devotion for this virgin, Virgen de La Paloma was selected as the patron virgin of Madrid. The celebration to honour this virgin started with verbenas in the late 19th century.

Fiestas de la Paloma

 

FESTIVALS OF SAN ISIDRO

The festivals of San Isidro take place on the 15th of May, the day when this saint from Madrid supposedly died in 1130, being honoured every year during this festivals.

Origin

As its Arabic name means, Madrid is considered to be a city of "water abundance" and the legend tells that the farmer Isidro with the help of the angels to plough the fields very quickly made the water spring up when he was a well-digger, supplying the city with water. He lived between the 11th and 12th centuries, becoming a saint in 1622 and being canonized.

Celebration

The celebration of this day consists in walking by the River Manzanares to the chapel of San Isidro to drink water from the spring with his name. It is also very typical to eat the traditional cocido outdoors in the so-called Padro de San Isidro dressed up with the clothes of "chulapos." Musicians and the traditional "barquilleros" (people who make wafers) are also part of this celebration, contributing to the folklore in the capital this day. 

Other outstanding events during this day are the concerts, the parade of "gigantes" and "cabezudos" (giants and big-headed figures), verbenas (open-air bars), mass, etc. There are also some bullfighting events during the festival.

Feria de San Isidro

VERBENA DE SAN ANTONIO DE LA FLORIDA

The festivals of San Antonio de la Florida are deeply rooted in Madrid and take place in one of the most peaceful areas, in the district Moncloa-Aravaca, by the River Manzanares. During the 12th and 13th of June there are street bars outdoors at the end of Paseo de la Florida, beside Parque de Bombilla. The celebration place has to do with the location of the chapel dedicated to San Antonio de Padua, the honoured saint since 1732. This chapel is declared a national monument hosting some Goya's frescos. 

Cuadro de las fiestas de San Antonio de la Florida

Amog the different cultural events during this festivity, we find the tradition of women coming to the baptismal font, full of pins, to put your hand in and see how many pins are stuck to your hand, one for each suitor, keeping these pins for the prophecy to be fulfilled during a year.

Another tradition is to collect "panecillos de santo," an example of traditional confectionery, related to the feeding of the poor by San Antonio. 

In the enclosure of the street bar, in Parque de la Bombilla, there are food and drink stands as well as funfair attractions and concerts with national music bands. 

 

FIESTAS DE LA MELONERA

The festivals of La Melonera take place every year in early September, being the 12th the most important day. The celebration is carried out in Parque de la Arganzuela, being the events organized by the district with the same name since the 18th century. These festivals are also known as those of the Nativity of Virgen del Puerto with the name of La Melonera because there used to be melon stands around the chapel dedicated to this virgin, a national monument. For this reason it is very typical to eat melon and drink sangria. 

Fiestas de La Melonera

The 12th of September there is mass at the chapel's plaza and afterwards the image of the virgin is taken out parading in the surrounding area. During this event many people from Madrid were the traditional outfits. 

Other activities becoming very relevant during these festivals are the children activities with games, contests, exhibitions, etc. 

 

ROMERÍA DE LA VIRGEN DE GRACIA DE SAN LORENZO DE EL ESCORIAL

Romería de la Virgen de Gracia, a kind of pilmigrage, is a very popular event that starts early in the morning of the second Sunday of September and the image of the virgin is taken out of its chapel, beautifully decorated, to a sanctuary, where Misa del Alba (Mass at dawn) takes place. During the pilmigrage to the sanctuary, the pilgrims pray the rosary and the after the mass, the people eat by the chapel and take part in the traditional constests, dances, and local products sales.

Procesión de la Virgen de Gracia

GAY PRIDE FESTIVALS

This is the Gay Pride Day dedicated to LGTBI people (lesbians, gays, transgenders, bisexuals and intersexuals), the celebration with the greatest number of attendees and the most diverse in Madrid. This celebration lasts 5 days during which the streets of Madrid are filled with flags with the rainbow colours and a wide range of activities such as concerts or exhibitions take place, being the Gay Pride parade the most significant event. In all these events there are hundreds of associations participating linked to the LGBTI community and promoting the rights of this community. 

Día del Orgullo LGTBI

The festivals opening ceremony takes place in Plaza de Chueca, the epicentre of the neighbourhood dedicated to the LGBTI community at the end of June and the beginning of July. A large demonstration for LGBTI rights takes place the first Saturday after the 28th of June, the International Gay Pride Day. Obviously heterosexual people take part in all these activities too.

This festival combines both party events and demonstrations for LGBTI rights with the following demonstration itinerary: usually starting at Atocha around 6pm until Plaza de Colón, going through Paseo del Prado, Plaza de Neptuno and Plaza de Cibeles. Other years the parade went through Gran Vía ending at Puerta de Alcalá. Different Spanish political parties and workers unions take part in it and volunteer at information stands and other activities. 

 

FESTIVAL OF TETUÁN

The festival of Tetuán are also an alternative to the Gay Pride Parade, since these festivals in the neighbourhood of Tetuán take place the first weekend of July to honour the patron saint, Virgen de las Victorias, named after the battle of Tetouan won by the Spanish troops in 1860. To honour the virgin, the image is taken out on a parade through the streets of the neighbourhood. 

The concerts and other performances usually are carried out at Plaza de la Remonta commonly with famous artists as well as children and sports activities such as "Gran Premio Ciclista de Tetuán" (a cycling competition). For food tasting and sampling a bar is set up at the plaza along with a fair.

 

FIESTAS DEL CARMEN

The festival of Virgen del Carmen usually takes place between the 12th and 20th of July, since Virgen del Carmen Day is on the 16th. This day is enthusiastically celebrated in the districts of Chamberí, La Latina, Villaverde Alto and Puente de Vallecas. Each of these districts keep this festival as a long tradition. In the neighbourhood of Chamberí, for example, it started to be celebrated in the 20's, whereas in Vallecas it started in mid-20th century. 

The celebration includes sports, exhibitions, educational games and handcrafts, cultural activities, music, theatre, cuisine and the fair. 

Cartel de las Fiestas del Carmen

CARNAVALES MADRILEÑOS

The carnivals are the most dynamic and vibrant festival in the capital. For 5 days, the streets of Madrid are full of colour with hundreds of costumes and fun performances for any public.

They begin after the opening speech by a popular public figure from Madrid, and right after there is the first parade with a yearly theme. The itinerary goes by Parque del Retiro, Puerta de Alcalá until Plaza de la Cibeles. At this plaza there is a big party after the parade. Depending on the yearly theme there are a series of actors performing characters related to it, there being also music and fireworks

Pregón del Carnaval

Beside the carnival parade, there is a big baile de carnaval (carnival ball) and a costume contest in Salón de Baile at Círculo de Bellas Artes. The entry to Gran Baile is not free, but it is a great opportunity to see all the well-prepared and extravagant costumes.

Another outstanding event is Encuentro de Murgas y Chirigotas at Plaza de la Villa, where the best carnival troups gather dressed up in colourful costumes to dance and enjoy the funniest criticism of the most recent events.

The closing ceremony of the carnival happens with Entierro de la Sardina (the Burial of the Sardine), a typical event already celebrated in the times of Goya, consisting in symbolically stowing the costumes, stopping the boasting and the party and burying the sardine. For Entierro de la Sardina, there is also a parade from Plaza de San Antonio de Florida to Fuente de los Pajaritos at Plaza de las Moreras in Casa de Campo, a big park where the fish is buried.

Finally, there is a big bonfire symbolizing the burning of negative energy with the ashes as a symbol of peace. 

VERANOS DE LA VILLA

Veranos de la Villa is a festival dedicated to the arts created by the people of Madrid and the tourists to not forget the sofocating temperatures in the city during the summertime, especially in July and August, there being a wide range of cultural activities for everyone. 

The festival deals with almost all of the arts, from the music to the theatre, dance and cinema. The facilities that host those activities are Teatro Circo Prince, Centro Cibeles, Conde Duque, Jardines de Sabatini or Matadero Madrid. There are symphony bands, choirs, and orchestras giving a soundtrack to all of them.

Actuación teatral de Veranos de la Villa

LA NOCHE EN BLANCO

La Noche en Blanco was first celebrated in September 2006, even though other European cities hold this kind of festival for years before. Until 2010 there was a yearly edition in September, but it was then when it was decided to celebrate it once every two year. Unfortunately, the 2012 edition could not be celebrated for the lack of funds. 

The main purpose of this festival, celebrated at night, consists in offering the citizen to the contemporary art. This was an European cultural initiative that started in Paris in 2012 and it has extended to other cities such as Brussels, Sao Paulo and Rome. It was created with the values of sustainability, citizenship and free to everyone. 

It is organized by Concejalía de las Artes de Madrid and it offers a great number of spectacles, video projections, concerts, and street performances. All these events take place in the different streets, buildings, parks and plazas of the city.

Actuación teatral de la Noche en Blanco

 

DÍA DE LA HISPANIDAD

Día de la Hispanidad or Spain's National Day, on the 12th of October, intends to celebrate the union bond between Spain and the rest of the countries where the Spanish language is spoken commemorating the historical discovery of the American continent. It is a very special date for Spain, since it meant a linguistic, economic and cultural expansion after Colombus travelled to the New World in the name of the Spanish Catholic King and Queen during the expeditions between 1492 and 1502.

The celebration of this day is carried out with a great military parade between 10am and 12pm ending at Plaza de Colón, where the king and head of state presides a ceremony along the other members of the Crown, and different State political representatives. The parade takes place between 10am and 12pm. During this day all museum open for those who want to immerse themselves in the arts and culture, but the free entry hours are limited.

Also, people can enjoy concerts, exhibitions, visits to palaces and museum outdoors, not forgetting that the hours may change from one year to another.

Exhibición aérea del Día de la Hispanidad

 

THE 2 OF MAY FESTIVAL

This festival on the 2nd of May commemorates the day of the people uprising in Madrid in 1808. This event triggered the Spanish War of Independence againt the Napoleonic troops. This war lasted until 1814, and Spain was divided between those who supported the French constitutional ideas and those who supported the absolutist king Fernando VII.  

This festival is celebrated in different neighbourhoods of the city, but especially in Malasaña, being named after Manuela Malasaña, a humble taylor who defended herself from two French soldiers with a pair of scissors. 

The activities programme is intended for everyone and including a great number of various spectacles and activities with music, dance, cinema and, of course, folklore.

Los fusilamientos del 3 de Mayo de Goya

 

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