Christmas is when the weather gets colder, the cities are prettier, there are lights everywhere and people enjoy getting together with family and friends. Christmas in Madrid is well known for having festive activities and being one of the top destinations in Spain to celebrate. Here we give you some reasons to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year in Madrid.
Although it is not a European city that is widely known for its Christmas markets, Madrid does have a pretty spectacular one at Plaza Mayor and it is not to be missed. From November 26th until December 31st 2021 the Plaza Mayor transforms into a Christmas wonderland where you can find booths selling a variety of festive items and a large Christmas tree in the centre.
Plaza de Ópera
From November 30th until the 8th of January the Plaza at the opera transforms into a wonderland for those of you with a sweet tooth. The market at Plaza de Ópera is a place where you can find handmade sweets. Vendors offer typical Christmas products from other parts of the world too.
Mercadillo de Navidad – El Corte Inglés Castellana
The Corte Ingles located near Nuevos Ministerios will have a Christmas market in the large courtyard area in front of the store. The market will be filled with stalls selling everything from gifts to decorations and even mulled wine! Check out more about this market here.
2. Traditional Spanish Christmas Food:
Turroón can be similar to nougat, though it is typically quite hard and chewy like toffee. Tourrón comes in two different types Blando (soft) and Duro(hard). The hard version of Turrón comes from Alicante city while the soft version comes from Jijona in the Alicante province. Turrón is typically eaten around Christmas time after dinner served with Coffee or Brandy and cut into rectangles.
Roscón de Reyes is a cake that looks like a bagel that is usually filled with cream and cut in half and normally topped with candied fruits making it almost look like a jeweled crown. This sweet treat is usually enjoyed for breakfast on the morning of January 6th. Most Roscón de Reyes come with a kings crown inside the box and whoever finds the figure of the king inside the cake gets to wear it.
Marzipan is a popular Christmas treat that dates back to the reign of Philip II who handed them out to the less fortunate at Christmas. They are a simple treat made of crushed almonds and sugar that are then baked and enjoyed with tea, coffee, cava or Colacao! Traditional presentations of marzipan are the filling, the figuritas and the marquesas.
Polvorónes and Mantecados are Spanish shortbread Christmas cookies, which are often made with lard. They are usually extremely dry and crumbly and have a pasty texture when chewed. They come in a variety of flavours including almond, orange, chocolate and lemon.
Cava is Spanish sparkling wine that is made the same way champagne is produced but with different grapes. Cava can be either white (blanco) or rosé(rosado). Cava is a popular drink all year round but is generally more popular throughout Christmas and NYE.
3. The Christmas Lottery:
Ever since 1812, the Spaniards have kept the tradition of buying the national Christmas lottery. ‘El Gordo’ also known as the fat one is considered the biggest lottery worldwide. The price of a whole ticket is €200.00 but you can buy a tenth of the ticket for €20.00. Most people prefer to buy different numbers as it gives them better chances of winning. An estimated 98% of the population who can take part in the lotto hold at least one ticket. If you see a long queue around Christmas time for the lotería, this is what they are queuing for!
One of the best activities to do at Christmas is to put on a pair of skates and go ice skating! Where better to go ice skating than the Palacio de Heilo in Madrid. It is open to the public on Friday’s from 17:30 – 21:00 and Saturday’s and Sunday’s from 13:00 – 15:00 and 17:30 – 21:00. Tickets can be bought at the ticket booths 15 minutes before the session starts. Don’t forget masks and gloves are mandatory!
€10 with your ice skates
€12 renting ice skates
€12 with your ice skates
€14 renting ice skates
On the 6th of December, children around Spain are rewarded for their behaviour from the previous year. Presents if they were good or coal if they were bad. However, the night before the three wise kings travel through the streets of Madrid in a parade from Plaza de San Juan de la Cruz and go down Paseo de la Castellana to Plaza de Cibeles, where they deliver a message to all children. The parade starts at 18:30 and continues until 21:00.
Every year people from every corner of the globe gather in Puerta del Sol to ring in the new year. The people who gather in the square at Sol watch the clock from the Real Casa de Correos and eat one grape for the countdown to midnight. It is said if you eat the 12 grapes before the clock strikes midnight you will have a prosperous year ahead of you as there are 12 grapes for the 12 months of the year. Most people in Spain take part in this tradition if they see it live or if they watch it on TV, it is an occasion not to be missed. The countdown to midnight marks the start of a pretty sleepless night in the capital of Spain as party-goers take to the streets to celebrate the new year.
Be it a winter weekend break or your first time away for the holidays you’ll feel right at home with the Christmas festivities taking place around Christmas in Madrid during December and January! Looking to start a new career in the beautiful city of Madrid? We have globally accredited TEFL courses to help you kick start your new year! Check out our Instagram and Facebook too so you can stay up to date with everything.