It’s a lot of fun when it’s fiesta time in Madrid. The shops close, decorations are hung up in the street, bars are set up outside and the whole city joins in with the celebrations.
There are many bank holidays in Madrid, local parties in different neighbourhoods and hundreds of fiestas all across Spain. We’ll just focus on Madrid city centre and I will give you a rundown of all the big, fun, loud fiestas you can find in Madrid.
These are my favourite Madrid fiestas and local holidays. They are all sure to create a fun party atmosphere and are great to join in with as a tourist.
When are the best fiestas in Madrid?
I think it’s good to know when a fiesta is happening in Madrid, to help you plan your visit. We once had friends visit and unknowingly booked them into a hotel that was right at the heart of a fiesta. They had a great time and thankfully were up for partying the day and night away.
But if you’d like some peace and quiet or want to avoid any possible road closures, big crowds or general inconvenience during your trip to Madrid steer clear of these fiestas.
Semana Santa – March/April
Semana Santa is Holy Week in Spain and the Easter celebrations cover a week long holiday in Madrid. It’s a very religious celebration with a series of separate ceremonies and processions occurring from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday.
Obviously having a whole week off work and school puts everybody in the party spirit. Spanish flags adorn most of the cities balconies and windows. Big family lunch celebrations take place in restaurants and friends get together in the evenings to make the most of the time off.
To learn more about Easter celebrations in Spain from a US student studying here read this post by Sierra.
For specific information regarding the Semana Santa religious services in Madrid check out gomadrid.com
Dos de Mayo – 2nd May
A day to commemorate when the people of Madrid rebelled against the French troops occupying the City under Napolean in 1808. This remembrance fiesta is very important and is often referred to as “the day of Madrid”.
Plaza del dos de Mayo is a bustling square in the Malasaña barrio and the heart of the days celebrations. This Madrid neighbourhood is actually named after one of the battles hero’s, a local teenager who was killed in the aftermath. A memorial statue takes centre place surrounded by gardens and children’s play areas. During fiesta, this area and the nearby bars are all busy with local young people and families.
Parades, concert and games happen all over the city. Only bars, restaurants and cafes stay open and everyone comes out to meet each other, share their pride at being Madrileños and enjoy the day.
San Isidro – 15th May
San Isidro is the patron Saint of Madrid and all farmers. This day is one of the biggest fiestas in Madrid. Locals like to celebrate the cultural history of their city and dress up in traditional farming clothes, then spend the day singing, dancing and laughing.
There is a huge park South West of the city centre on the other side of the river called La Pradera. Crowds gather here on the afternoon of San Isidro for a picnic then lots of fun activities. Also, major city landmarks such as Plaza Mayor and Temple de Debod hold festivities. The traditionally dressed “chulapo” and “chulapa” dance a “chotis” and eat traditional sweets. A famous bull fight is held at Las Ventas bullring in the early evening then concerts and street parties are held around the La Latina barrio.
Gay Pride – June/July
In recent years Madrid has become known as one of the biggest Gay Pride celebrations in Europe and people come from all over the world to join the fiesta. Chueca is the place to be for Madrid Gay Pride and the local bars, restaurants and shops will adorn every possible spot with a rainbow flag.
Stages are set up and events start on 28th June, the official International Day of LGBT Pride. A schedule of performances and parties are set out by the local Gay and Lesbian bars and nightclubs. The fiestas continue in Madrid for over a week until the final parade day.
The parade is usually a big, vibrant and lively procession down one of the busiest streets in Madrid on the last Saturday of festivities. Plans and dates do change slightly year to year, check here for exact info on the current years plans.
La Paloma – 15th August
Fiesta de la Paloma is to honour the Virgin dove and is a vibrant and lively party in La Latina. More specifically the streets of Calle Calatrava, Cava Baja and the side streets and surrounding plazas.
It’s probably the most concentrated and busy fiesta in Madrid. The streets are closed and colourful decorations are hung up all over La Latina. Every bar and restaurant will set up drinks service in the street and by late evening there is a sea of people partying and drinking.
It’s another great excuse for the traditional Madrileño clothes to be worn by locals. La Paloma is actually the last of 3 fiestas held in this area of Madrid, the 2 prior are in el Rastro and Lavapies, the neighbouring barrios. So, the partying hits a big crescendo and is a lot of fun for tourists to join in with.
Fiesta Nacional de Espana – 12th October
This is Spanish Constitution day and a national day off work, which means lots of celebrations. In Madrid there is a ceremony where the King raises the Spanish flag, a military parade and the air force put on an aerial show.
Lots of people will spend the day at home with family but as with all bank holidays in Madrid, the bars and restaurants will be full of people meeting up and celebrating.
All Saints Day – 1st November
All Saints Day is a holiday when people all over the country return to their home town and remember loved ones who have died. People will lay flowers on the graves of relatives. Cemeteries and road surrounding get very congested as everybody joins in with this tradition. Churches hold big services across the country.
Special foods are eaten to honour the dead such as nuts, sweets and cakes. It’s a celebration of life more than death and way to never forget those who have passed. In Madrid celebrations mix with Halloween on 31st October and Day of the Dead festivities on 2nd November, resulting in a 3 day fiesta.
Day of the Dead is a similar celebration held in Mexico. Where colourful shrines are set up to remember dead family members and offerings of fruit and paper flowers are laid on the shrine. Due to the high number of Mexicans in Madrid and those with Mexican ancestry this day is also celebrated here. In many plazas you’ll see shrines set up alongside food and drink stalls, candles lit, paper bunting and skulls used to decorate the area.
I hope you found this guide to the most fun fiestas and locals holidays in Madrid interesting 🙂
If you’re planning a visit to Madrid and want to arrange it around a local holiday take a look at this awesome website that lists all public holiday dates
Where mentioned, specific dates are correct for 2018. Sorry my pics aren’t the best quality, I tend to have a few beers during fiesta!
For information on how Christmas is celebrated in Spain and what happens in Madrid read our guide – Christmas in Spain & where to find festive spirit in Madrid
Want to know more about summer festivities and big summer music festivals in Spain? check out – The biggest summer music festivals in Spain
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