Many cities seem to come alive in summer in a way that wouldn’t even be imaginable in summer, and one of the ways they do this is with festivals, carnivals and other events, often for free, that liven up their streets and parks. Madrid is no exception, and while it is hardly as dull and grey as London in winter, summer is certainly the time to be there. This is a chronological guide to the free summer events in Madrid.
Literary types will want to be in town at the end of May and beginning of June when the Feria del Libro book fair takes place. Based in the Retiro Park there are stalls laid out from local and international bookshops and appearances by major famous writers from various genres. The atmosphere can be incredible with visitors coming from all over the world to enjoy the books, the wine and the conversation. This is also the ideal opportunity to discover more about Spanish literature which is often overlooked by English speaking readers.
Less refined perhaps, but no less fun, is the Rock in Rio festival which takes place each June. RiR has its own purpose built outdoor stadium so the facilities are excellent and, unlike many English festivals that may be more famous, this one is unlikely to be dampened by rain and end up as a de facto festival of mud wrestling. The line ups are a great mix of rock and pop acts and usually include some global superstars as well as up and coming artists. It is advised to book ahead as the festival is very popular with the backpackers thronging through Europe each summer.
The Veranos de la Villa is a mixed arts festival that stretches across the summer months of June and July. The eclectic programme includes film showings, theatre productions as well as music and dance events. Many of the elements of the festival are free and the rest have nominal charges so price is not an issue. The variety of the events on offer means that there is something for everyone and visitors can research on the website to find something they are most interested in.
Visitors with families will be most interested in the various festivals that take place in the Old Town during the middle of August. The three saints-day festivals are vaguely similar to the Notting Hill carnival in that they see local residents reclaiming their streets for a large party with a huge amount of activities. There are parades and concerts with wild and wacky costumes and decorations which kids will love and the atmosphere is friendly and welcoming.
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