What to do during Christmas in Madrid 2015
When I first got to Madrid in 2002 I have to say I was not particularly impressed with what was on offer at Christmas time. Of course, the city put up beautiful lights all around the center and a big Christmas market in Plaza Mayor. The market though had very little variety and most of the product was pretty tacky. It didn’t come close to the beautiful German Christmas markets of central Europe. The biggest difference from back home that I noticed was that the season is a whole week longer. January 6th is celebrated as Three Kings Day with great anticipation. It is really as big, if not bigger, than the 25th for all the kids. Three Kings Day is the day they open most of their presents; they even have a big parade in which the three kings ride into town and make their way down to Plaza Mayor.
But Madrid has come a long way in ten years, and this year is no exception. In addition to all the monuments, museums, and activities in Madrid, the city is packed with great things to do whether with or without kids. I have never seen so many different activities on offer in Madrid. Here are my top things to do and see in Madrid for Christmas 2015.
(DATES ARE BASED ON LAST YEARS EVENT-UPDATE TO COME SOON)
See the Christmas Lights
Hours of the Christmas lights in Madrid 2015: light are turned on daily at 6:00pm and are on until at least 10:00pm.Thursday to Saturday they are on until at least 11:00pm. On Christmas Eve until 3:00am and Midnight Christmas through New Years. Until 6:00am
Dec 26, Jan 1 & 6 until 12pm
Dec 31st from 6pm to 6am Jan 1st
Jan 5th 6pm to 3am
The Navibus: Christmas Lights City Tour
One of the newer additions to Madrid’s Christmas activities is the “Navibus” (Navi is for Navidad, which is Christmas in Spanish) This bus takes you on a tour of all the Christmas lights throughout the city. The bus departs and finishes at the same stop: on Calle Serrano, in front of number 30 between Goya and Jorge Juan (across from Plaza de Colon, Jardines del Descubrimiento). A bus leaves every 5 to 7 minutes; the tour lasts about 45 to 50 minutes and costs 2 euros per person.
The route will take you through these areas: Serrano, Plaza Independencia, Calle Alcalá, Plaza Cibeles, Gran Vía, Plaza Callao, Jacometrezo, Plaza Santo Domingo, Calle San Bernardo, Calle Velazquez, Calle Ortega y Gasset
Try a Christmas Tour
During December there are the following tours: you must register before and seating is limited!
1:)Christmas cycling (6, 11, 18, 23, 26, 27 and 30 December at 19:00, Tourism Centre Plaza Mayor)
2.)Christmas for runners (13, 20 and 27 December at 19:00, depart Plaza Mayor)
3.)Christmas Traditions (6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 27 and 28 December at 17:00, depart Tourism Centre Plaza Mayor)
4.)Historic nativity scenes (13, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 23, 26, 27 and 30 December at 11:00, depart Tourism Centre Plaza Mayor)
Special visits for people with hearing impairment (14 and December 16.), Physical disability (14 and December 16), intellectual disability (18 and December 20) and visual impairment (17 and December 19)
Definitely interesting, tickets cost about 5 or 6 euros depending on the activity and children under 5 years can enjoy free.
Plaza Mayor has the market that has been around the longest, but now you can find some kind of market in almost every plaza offering Christmas ornaments, lights, food, artisan products, crazy colored wigs and costumes for kids (I still do not quite understand why), jewelry, candles, and gifts. There are markets in Plaza España, Santo Domingo and this year there is a artesian food market in the Plaza de Opera.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! Being a Catholic country, Christmas would not be complete with out a Nativity Scene. Wherever you see a line of people waiting downtown, it is very likely they are waiting to see a nativity. They go crazy with building nativities from all types of materials like cork, live characters, and animals.
One of the largest is: BELÉN de Francisco Salzillo in CentroCentro at Palacio Cibles Dec 4 to Feb 2nd
Tuesday to Sunday 10:00am to 8:00pm except Dec 24, 25, 31 and 5 of Jan, closes at 2:00pm
Here is a route to take if you want to see the Nativities.
1.)Nativity City Council Madrid Plaza del Sol
(Belén de la Comunidad de Madrid en la Puerta del Sol)
In the Real Casa de Correos de la Puerta del Sol)
Entrance on Calle Correos
Hours: Monday through Sunday, from 10 to 21 h. free admission
2.) Royal Church of San Ginés
(Belén de la iglesia de San Ginés)
C / Arenal, 13
Baroque Mystery, From 9-13 h. and 18-21 h
3.) Corpus Christi Convent of the Nuns Jerónimas
(Belén del Convento de las Carboneras)
Plaza del Conde de Miranda, 3
Mystery and Three Kings.
From December 7 to January 8. From 9 to 13:30. and from 16.30 to 19.30. Sundays and holidays from 10 to 13.30. and from 16.30 to 19.30
4.) St. Michael’s Basilica (Belén de la Basílica Pontificia de San Miguel)
C / San Justo, 4
Nativity popular monumental sculptor José Luis Mayo Lebrija.
From December 12 to January 10, 10 and 13 h. 21 and 17.30 h. (except during hours of worship)
5.) Church-Basilica of Our Father Jesús de Medinaceli (Belén de la iglesia-Basílica de Jesús de Medinaceli)
Plaza de Jesus 2
Baroque Mystery. Popular birth.
From December 16 to January 8.
Monday to Thursday from 7 to 13.30 h. and 17-21 h. Friday, from 6.30 to 23 h. Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 8:30 am to 14 pm. and 17-21 h
6.)Nativity at Palacio Cibeles(Belén en Palacio de Cibeles)
Plaza Cibeles 1
Having German background I have always loved a classic Christmas and it wouldn’t be complete without a Christmas choir. This year there is the XIX Festival Gospel es Navidad
At: Fernán Gómez. Centro Cultural de la Villa , Sala Guirau
Thursday 12 of December to Sunday 15 de December 2013
Thurs to Sat – 8:30pm
Sunday – 7:30pm
Hot Chocolate and Churros
Churros and chocolate is always popular, but during Christmas it’s one of those long running traditions. The lines are always long but if you love chocolate, it’s worth the wait!
San Ginés. Established in 1894 on Pasadizo de San Gines, no. 5
La Mallorquina: C/ Mayor, 2.
El Riojano: C/ Mayor, 10.
If you find yourself up on Plaza Castilla, there is a churros stand on the southeast corner of the rotunda that has great churros and chocolate. One of my favorites and no line.
Madrid has several temporary ice skating rinks around the city. You can find them in Plaza Callao and Plaza la Luna
5 € / per hour (Mon-Fri) y 7,5 € / an hour (Sat-Sun, Christmas Eve and New Years)
Tobagan la Plaza de la Luna. Price is: 3-5 euros
Gloves are required. They sell them on location if you do not have them
Cortylandia at El Corte Ingles
A traditional right of passage for every Spanish child is to visit the five story animatronic Christmas display at the department store El Corte Ingles on Calle Preciados. I originally happened across it my first year by walking along a side street, hoping to avoid all the Christmas foot traffic near Callao. Suddenly I found myself surrounded by hundreds of families with the small children anxiously awaiting the big show that happens every hour on the hour.
Christmas Display at El Corte Ingles
Calle Maestro Victoria
Monday to Friday: in the morning, 12, 13 and 14 hours, and by the afternoon,18.30 and 19.30 and 21 hours
Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays: in the morning, 12.30, 13.30 and 14.30hours, and by the afternoon, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 hours.
Days 5, 6 and 7 December, 12,30, 13.30 and 14.30 hours, and by the afternoon,17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 hours.
12 and 19 December: in the morning, 12, 13 and 14 hours, and by the afternoon, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 hours.
On 24 and 31 December: in the morning, 12.30, 13.30 and 14.30 hours, and bythe afternoon, 17.30, 18.30 and 19.30 hours.
25th December: by the afternoon, 17, 18, 19 and 20 hours
January 1: the afternoon 18, 19, and 20 hours
If you need more information or want help, hotel bookings or assistance planning your trip email me at [email protected]
For information on city of Madrid events try www.esmadrid.com/en and for Comunidad-backed events www.madrid.org. See also www.fiestas-de-madrid.com.
Spanish speakers should also look at www.lanetro.com, a good listings site.