Join the Madrileños at one of their annual parties and enjoy a very different kind of holiday.
There seems to be some street party or other going on somewhere in Madrid every day of the week. This page gathers together the very best festivals taking place in the Spanish capital. Whether you’re into fine arts, contemporary music, or you just want to let your hair down and party with the locals, there’s a festival on this list for you!
2 Feb: To celebrate Mary and Joseph taking the little baby Jesus to the temple, the Feast of Candles is celebrated throughout Spain on February 2nd. It’s really a mid-winter festival to celebrate the coming of Spring and in Madrid it involves clowns dressed as farmers staging mock bullfights with wooden cows before ‘sacrificing’ them and handing out their ‘blood’ – or ‘Sangria’ as we call it! We’re not quite sure what this has to do with Jesus but it sounds like a lot of fun!
Dos de Mayo
May 2: The Dos de Mayo festival marks the anniversary of the uprising against French rule that started in 1808. The whole event kicks off the night before with a huge fireworks display in the Jardines de las Vistillas. Then, on May 2nd, there’s a military display in the Plaza de Oriente and street parties and concerts throughout the city, especially in Malasaña which was an important battle site.
San Isidro Festival
May: San Isidro is the Patron Saint of Madrid and the whole of May is dedicated to celebrations in his honour. You can expect street parties, bullfights and a recent addition, the Sound Isidro music festival, showcasing music both from around the country and, indeed the world.
Jun-Aug: If you’re looking for something a little more refined, then PhotoEspaña has you covered. It’s a major festival of photography and visual arts taking place throughout the city, both indoors and outside. There’s a programme of talks, courses, workshops and exhibitions covering the best talent, both established and emerging, in Spanish photography.
Suma Flamenca Festival
6-18 June: No visit to Spain is complete without a bit of flamenco and Madrid has one of the most renowned flamenco festivals in the Suma Flamenca. Centred around the main hub in the Teatros del Canal, the whole city comes alive with performances of traditional Spanish dancing at many different venues across the city.
Mad Cool Festival
6-8 July: A newcomer to the music festival circuit, Mad Cool Festival has now had two very successful years and planning is underway for 2018. Located in and around the Magic Box indoor tennis stadium and its car parks, the festival in 2017 boasted Green Day, Foo Fighters and Kings of Leon, amongst many others, as part of its lineup.
7 San Cayetano, San Lorenzo and La Paloma festivals
Early August: The first two weeks of August sees the most traditional street festivals you’ll find in Madrid. Put on more for locals than tourists, though welcoming all the same, the festivals include live music, alfresco dining and a range of activities to suit all ages.
The oldest parts of the city – Austrias and Lavapiés – are at the heart of the celebrations and if you want to get involved then point yourself in the direction of the Plaza de la Paja and you can’t go far wrong.
3rd week of August: If you’ve seen the ‘running of the bulls’ in Pamplona and thought it looked fun, but perhaps a tad too dangerous or cruel, then look no further than Mataelpina. This small town in the Sierra de Guadarrama, just outside Madrid, has replaced the bulls…with giant balls!
The polystyrene balls are up to 3m in diameter and they chase people through the streets of this mountain town. And because there’s no change of being gored to death it’s safe for kids too.
9 September: Even though it’s only one-day, the DCode festival still manages to pack a lot of great stuff in. Taking place at the Complutense University of Madrid, the 2017 headliners are Interpol, Band of Horses, The Kooks, Liam Gallagher and Daughter. It’s only been around for a few years but it’s already got a great reputation offering amazing music all day long at a reasonable price.
31 December: New Years Eve is celebrated the world over and Madrid is no exception. There’s a ball drop from the Puerta del Sol where thousands of Spaniards gather. Tradition dictates that you should eat a grape for each of the 12 tolls of the bell at midnight, to bring good fortune for the 12 months of the year ahead. Then you simply pop your champagne cork and let the craziness of the night envelop you – much like you would anywhere else!