Traditions of Madrid, Spain

Category: Madrid

Like most historically rich cities, Madrid, the largest and capital city of Spain, has an abundance of local traditions to call its own, including a number of annual festivals that are as colorful as they are lively. Below we will explore some of these traditions in a bit more detail, painting a picture as to why Madrid continues to be one of the top tourist destinations in all of Europe.

The Holidays Fiestas de San Isidro

No list of Madrid traditions would be complete without mentioning how Madrilènos—the citizens of Madrid—ring in the holiday season. Christmas, for example, has a particularly special flavor in the city, as thousands of shoppers take to the streets of Plaza Mayor for the annual Christmas Market, complete with all the lights, decorations and goodwill that makes this time of the year so festive and heartwarming. New Years Eve, too, is very enjoyable. Each year, a countless number of locals and tourists gather in the Puerta del Sol, partying, celebrating and counting down the minutes and seconds to another New Year filled with hope and promise.

Bullfighting

Nowhere in the world, perhaps, is bullfighting as important or as revered as it is in the capital city of Madrid. As the weather begins to warm in mid to late March, the Plaza de las Ventas is once again transformed into a giant venue featuring some of the planet’s most exciting and well-attended bullfight events—a sport locally referred to as corridas. Although tourists can catch one of these events from March through October, the May festivities, organized as part of the San Isidro Fair, are especially thrilling and not to be missed.

Flamenco

In Madrid—and throughout Spain—the fiery form of dance called Flamenco is one of the oldest, richest and most artistic traditions. Tourists will regularly encounter couples acting out this lasting symbol of Madrid in party-all-night bars, nightclubs and tablaos, the Spanish term used for Flamenco venues throughout the country. The beauty and exhilaration of this fast-paced dance, which features bailaoras (dancers), cantaores (singers), palmeros (people who accompany the performance with rhythmical clapping) and talented guitarists, is almost impossible to resist.

Other Madrid Traditions

While there are far too many Madrid traditions to list them all within the confines of this brief guide, some of the more significant of these include:

The Feast of San Isidro. A festive time honoring Madrid’s patron saint, the Feast of San Isidro, celebrated annually on the 15th of May, features food, fun and plenty of outdoor entertainment.
Cabalgata de Reyes. Cabalgata de Reyes, or Procession of the Three Magi, is held each year on the 6th of January, as is the locally-renowned Madrid Carnival.

El Rastro Flea Market. While many might say a flea market is anything but a tradition, there are thousands of Madrilènos who would disagree. Every Sunday morning, come rain or shine, hordes of people make their way to the El Rastro Flea Market—an outdoor shopping bonanza where you’ll find everything from trinkets to second-hand goods to antiques and artisan rarities.

As you can see, Madrid is a special place like no other in the world, with rich, long-standing traditions and one-of-a-kind festivals celebrating the history of this beautiful city and the strong and undeniable pride of its citizens.