An idea of what to expect at Christmas in Madrid, including Christmas market locations and times.
Christmas Markets in Madrid in 2013
There are several Christmas markets (mercados de navidad, mercadillos de navidad or mercado navideño in Spanish) in Madrid, running for various durations over the Christmas period. The authorities are slow in releasing information about when these will open, so all days below are unofficial and are based on previous years' events. Christmas markets tend to open at around midday and close around 9pm or 10pm. The markets of most interest to visitors to Madrid are the following:
Plazor Mayor Christmas Market
The main Christmas market each year in Madrid is in Plaza Mayor. Its stalls usually open in the last week of November, probably November 29, 2013. It normally closes Stalls usually spill over into nearby Plaza Santa Cruz.
Plaza Callao, Plaza Santo Domingo and Plaza del Carmen Christmas Markets
All three of these are situated between Sol and Gran Via. Callo market should open around November 16, 2013, while the other two should open around November 24, 2013.
Plaza La Luna Christmas Market
Plaza La Luna, more correctly called Plaza de Santa María de Soledad Torres Acosta, situated just north of the major Gran Via street should open in mid-November 2013 and close on January 6, 2014.
Plaza de España Christmas Market
This artesanal market normally opens in mid-December and runs until early January.
Plaza Benavente Christmas Market
Just a few steps from Sol there is a smaller market that should open around November 24, 2013, and close around January 8, 2013.
See also: Weather in Madrid in December.
Christmas Lights in Madrid in 2013
Much of Madrid will be covered in Christmas lights, but the most spectacular will be those below. The Christmas lights will be turned on on November 29, 2013 and will be turned off on January 7, 2013.
- Gran Via in central Madrid.
- Puerta del Sol in central Madrid.
- Paseo de la Castellana/Paseo del Prado in central Madrid.
Calle Goya and Calle Ortega y Gasset in the Barrio Salamanca district.
- The various El Corte Inglés department stores are usually well decorated, too.
See also: Pictures of Christmas in Madrid
Nativity Scenes in Madrid
There will be nativity scenes (called Belenes in Spanish) throughout the city. They tend to open on December 1 and close in early February. The main nativity scenes will be at:
- The famous Post Office (Palacio de Cibeles)
- The Centro Cultural Casa del Reloj.
- The Museo de Historia de Madrid.
Christmas Trees in Madrid in 2013
The 'official' Christmas tree will be the one in Puerta del Sol, an enormous arbol de navidad that will be the equivalent to a 12-storey building, according to an article on ABC.es.
Christmas Bus (NaviBus) in Madrid
A bus that takes you to most of the city's Christmas lights has run in recent years. Prices are around 2 euros and will take you along Gran Via, past the famous Madrid post office, past the Retiro Park and into the Barrio Salamanca. This is not a hop-on-hop-off bus service - you can only get on and off at Calle Serrano 30, close to Plaza Colon. Madrid's tourist bus, on the other hand, will visit all of the sights on this tour bus and more and will allow you to get on and off. Click here to book a Hop-on-Hop-off Buses in Madrid.
Christmas for Kids in Madrid
- In the Jardines del Descubrimiento (Gardens of Discovery) near Plaza de Colon is a light and sound display for the kids, running from around December 22 until January 7.
Christmas Ice Rinks in Madrid
In 2012 (and, we can hope, also in 2013) there were open-air ice rinks in Madrid in the following places:
- Centro Cultural Conde Duque in Malasana, from mid-December.
- Plaza de la Luna from late November.
- Plaza de Felipe II in Barrio Salamanca, from November.
New Year's Eve in Madrid
Most people in Madrid are with their families at the stroke of midnight, going out to party at around 1am. As a result, most bars will be closed. If you want to celebrate in public, Puerta del Sol is the place to be at the stroke of midnight. Remember your grapes, an important tradition on New Years' Eve in Spain!
Three Kings Procession in MadridThe Three Kings Procession in Madrid starts from El Retiro and makes its way to Plaza Mayor. Read more about Three Kings Day in Spain.