Christmas markets are a classic at this time of the year and within its stalls there is something for everyone: crafts, food, decoration, etc. The most famous of them is undoubtly the big market in Plaza Mayor, an icon of Christmas in the city. Among the beautiful buildings that make up this historic site, there are more than a hundred stalls where you can find Christmas ornaments and trees. Next to this square, the Plaza de Santa Cruz offers also stalls with wigs and costumes to have a good time.
If you are looking for ideal gifts for the Holidays, your favorite craft market will be in the Plaza de España (Spain's Square). In here, more than 200 artisans from all over Spain will be selling jewelry, sculptures, clothing, leather goods, ceramics and more. Food stalls, on the other side, are located in Isabel II (or Opera) Square, Santo Domingo Sq., and Jacinto Benavente Sq., with churros, chocolates and other sweets treats.
Looking for something a bit different? The 'Cat Market' (Mercadillo del Gato), on Gran Vía St., offers handmade fashion items and other curiosities in a spectacular space: the Cultural Center of the Military Casino, opened by King Alfonso XIII decades ago.
Dates and times:
Plaza Mayor: November 29 to December 31.
Plaza de Spain: December 13 to January 5.
Cat Flea Market: December 13 to January 5 (closed 25 and December 31 and January 1).
This is another classic way to enjoy Christmas. In the city center there are located some ice rinks, like the one at Plaza de la Luna, behind Callao Square, which is accessed through a street lit for the occasion. You can also find another one inside the Palacio de Cibeles, the old Post Office, a beautiful building that serves as the setting for the famous fountain of the goddess Cybele. There is another in the crowded neighborhood of La Latina and last in Goya Square (next to the Palacio de los Deportes).
Dates, times and prices:
Plaza de la Luna: 23-November to mid-January. Open daily from 10h to 22h. Price 5€ weekdays and Saturdays 7.5€ (equipment included).
Palacio de Cibeles: from December 21 to January 7. Open daily from 11h to 21: 30h, except 24 and 31 December, which will open from 11am to 18pm. Price 6€.
La Latina: from December 14 to December 28. Open from 11h to 15h and 16: 30h to 20h. Free admission.
During Christmas, the Christians have the tradition of decorating their homes with figures of Jesus' Nativity. In Spain, this traditions is known as El Belén. In Madrid, different museums and other buildings have exhibitions in their rooms with colorful and old belenes for the enjoyment of the holiday traveler. Thus, in the Town Hall, inside the Palacio de Cibeles, the Neapolitan Belen of the Dukes of Cardona, with over 200 pieces of 18th century is displayed until February 1, 2015. Also the Town Hall, this time in the Fernán Gómez Cultural Centre, has installed the traditional Belén of José Luis Mayo, with 250 artistic pieces.
In Puerta del Sol, the heart of the capital, the Association of Belen in Madrid exhibits its work of more than 500 figures until January 6, 2015. Until that date also opens the curious Belen of Carboneras with its Baroque figures located in the Convent of the Nuns Jerónimas in Conde de Miranda Square. And for who like the most historical statues, the Belén of the Royal Palace is opened until January 11 with its beautiful collection begun by King Carlos IV.
MUSIC IN CHRISTMAS
Entitled "Suena en Navidad" (it sounds at Christmas), this is the list of all musical events prepared for the occasion in Madrid, as the Christmas concert of the Symphonic Band, the Flamenco Christmas Songs in different locations, the New Year's Concert or the Kings Concert with Miguel Ríos.
THE TWELVE GRAPES' TRADITION ON NEW YEAR'S EVE
Tradition says that on New Year's Eve, exactly at twelve o'clock on December 31, you have to take a grape for each chime sounding from the clock of Puerta del Sol. There, every year, thousands of people wait for each of the grapes to bring them luck for the twelve months of the following year. TV and media also covers this event.
Our recommendation: try the emotion of the twelve grapes a day earlier, on December 30 in the preuvas. That night, hundreds of people gather to simulate the New Year. The celebrations are just as festive and with far less overwhelming crowds.
Among the most commercial streets of the city, which congregate around Puerta del Sol (Preciados, Carmen, Gran Vía), hundreds of shops, bookstores, malls and shopping centers look crowded all hours at this time. Right there, in the back of the famous store 'El Corte Ingles', is Cortilandia, a free show of huge figures and music for the younger guests.
MADRID AND CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
Like all big cities in the world, Madrid also enjoy special lighting during the Holidays. The capital is decorated with lights that different fashion designers created especially for its avenues. Thus, walking the streets of Madrid at Christmas means enjoying the designs of Agatha Ruiz de la Prada or Devout & Lomba among others.
THE THREE WISE MEN PARADE
In Spain, Santa leaves a large part of his fame in the hands of the Three Wise Men, the three Kings who came from the East to give gifts to Baby Jesus. On the evening of January 5, the streets of every city in the country are filled with joy and emotions in different rides that form the procession of his three Majesties on their arrival. Hours later, at night, these Wizards will be responsible for distributing the gifts and leave them under the Christmas tree at every house where, for sure, children have left cookies and milk for the Kings and their camels. The Parade in Madrid is the most special of all because of its spectacular and length. This is a huge party with magic, acrobats, floats and candies that flood the main streets of Madrid.
THE CHRISTMAS' TRAIN
The Railway Museum organizes every year on Christmas a train with wooden carriages that were made in 1920 for a very special ride with theatrical shows and the presence of the Three Wise Kings on January 5th. For schedules and more information, visit their website.