Madrid is famed the world over for its colourful and exciting festivals. Madrileños love to party, and throughout the year you will find a whole range of festivals packed full of colour and excitement. Here is a selection of the best, so stock up on sangria and get ready for a fiesta!
2 de Mayo
This festival celebrates the 2nd May 1808, when the uprising against the French occupiers began in Puerta del Sol and led to the War of Independence. It consists of parades, marching bands and dancers in Plaza de 2 de Mayo in Malasaña, which is where the best events take place, as well as bull fights, sporting events and concerts. Head to San Bernardo or Tribunal on the Metro to get there. There is also a fireworks display on 1st May at Jardines de las Vistillas, reached on the Metro at Opera.
This is a month-long celebration beginning on May 15th, and honours the patron saint of the city. Bullfights take place throughout the following month at Las Ventas, and is the biggest event of its kind in the world. Over a week of celebrations are held elsewhere to celebrate the festival, with many locals dressing up in costumes. It also consists of the Romería, a pilgrimage to the meadow of the saint to drink from the fountain of the hermitage. Sol is one of the best areas to watch the locals dressed up in local garb, and can be reached on the Metro.
This takes place on August 15th when most of the residents of Madrid have headed to the coast for their holidays. This is the biggest summer religious festival in the city, when a portrait of the Virgen de la Paloma is carried around the centre of the town by the firemen of the city. Madrid´s Latina centre turns into one big party during the festival. Thousands of people also race through the streets, and cold water is thrown from the apartments to cool the people outside on the streets.
The Virgen of Almudena is the female patron saint of Madrid, and her celebration takes place on November 9th. The festival takes place at Plaza de la Almudena, and starts with a Mass at the Plaza Mayor, followed by processions throughout the city. The traditional food on offer during the festival is the Roscón de la Almudena, a sweet bread roll that sometimes contains a small gift.
This means Holy Week and takes place around Easter. It is comprised of numerous processions where the Virgin Mary and Jesus are carried, and these occur throughout the week. As it is more a period of reflection, many of the processions can appear quite sombre and as a result this is not a time for the usual celebrations held in the city.
This is the famous bullfighting fair which takes place in the Plaza Monumental Las Ventas bullring in May each year, lasting until the middle of June. There are also numerous concerts and dances throughout the month to accompany the bullfighting.
Photo of San Isidro festival, Madrid, by Andrew Dinh