If you are in Madrid and can’t think of what to do with your friends this weekend, here are 14 interesting ideas of what you can do in Madrid at Christmas to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere and discover the Spanish culture!
1 Christmas Market in Plaza Mayor
The Plaza Mayor in Madrid is undoubtedly one of the most visited places by tourists in Spain, and during Christmastime there are even more reasons to do so. At this period of the year the main square is illuminated with hundreds of colorful bulbs and artisans put their traditional stands with figures and objects to decorate our Nativity scenes at home, weird wigs and funny hats and also joke items to have fun at family gatherings. It will be open until December the 31th and its schedule is from 10 am to 9 pm from Sunday to Thursday, and from 10 am to 10 pm on Fridays, Saturdays and holiday eves.
2 Handicrafts Market in Paseo de Recoletos
If you are looking for something to decorate your home or an original gift for your friends and family at Christmas, you have to go to the Recoletos Craft Market. There you will find from a nice silk scarf, to a hand-drawn lamp or paper earrings in the shape of an airplane. There are varied, different and original things, do you need more reasons to go? It is located between Plaza de Cibeles (very close to the school!) and Plaza de Colón, and it will be open until December the 30th.
3 Madrid Local Government’s Nativity Scene
As every year, the Local Government of the city of Madrid celebrates Christmas with a large Nativity Scene made by the Madrid Association of Nativity Scenes artisans. This year the scene is divided into three large islands, which simulate the three continents that were known at that historical period of time. Admission is free and you can visit it at La Puerta del Sol, from 10 am to 6 pm (on December the 3rd it will be open from 12:30 pm to 10 pm, and on December the 25th and January the 1st it will be closed to the public).
4 Living Nativity Scenes
Have you heard of any living nativity scenes? Are they common in your country? If you have never seen one, we recommend you to visit one of these: Belén Viviente de Buitrago del Lozolla, Belén en el Castillo de los Mendoza in Manzanares el Real and Belén Viviente Solidario de Alpedrete. All of them are free, and are organized in towns near Madrid and you can get there by intercity buses. For more information, check this website.
5 Hot chocolate with churros in San Ginés
Another of the most typical Christmas things to do in Madrid is to have a hot chocolate with churros in San Ginés, a traditional chocolate café located a few meters from Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor. Some Madrilenians take it after celebrating New Year's Eve with friends, on the morning of January the 1st. Although it is open all day, during the holidays we recommend you going early because there are long queues, especially to take a seat on the terrace (they have stoves to keep you warm).
6 Christmas lights with Naviluz bus
What is a better way to experience Christmas than enjoying the Christmas lights and decorations from a tourist bus? Taking the Naviluz bus you will be able to see the most emblematic streets of the city and enjoy the lights in a different way than the rest of the tourists and locals. The trip lasts approximately 45 minutes and tickets can be purchased at Alsa.es (the price ranges from 3 to 6 euros).
7 Botanical Garden’s Naturaleza Encendida
During the month of December the Botanical Garden in Madrid organizes a festival of lights and sound called “Naturaleza Encendida” (Lit Nature). With this show you can discover the beauty of the many plants and ancient trees there in a much more original way and take selfies with which you can boast on social networks! There are approximately 15 kilometers of LED lights and sculptures of more than 3 meters, and this year its theme is marine. Check all the information about this event and buy your ticket on the official website.
During the month of December another of the Madrid customs par excellence and of those who come to the capital to visit their family is to go to see Cortylandia. It is a music show with large figures that "sing" and "dance" to the beat of catchy tunes. It is intended for children but it is surprising how many adults like to go because it remind them of beautiful moments of their childhood and they like to sing the well-known song that has the same name as the show.
9 Christmas carols concert
During Christmastime there are many concerts in Madrid of many diverse genres (funk, folk, soul, jazz, indie...). If you want to listen to live Christmas music, we highly recommend you the concert of the Madrid Youth Choir on December the 22th and the Zambomba Flamenca Reyes and Christmas on 23th, both in the Plaza de la Villa under the program “Madrid sounds like Christmas”. In addition to this, in the Plaza de Pontejos (very close to Puerta del Sol) there will be every day, spread over five passes, until the 23rd of this month Christmas concerts performed by different choirs.
10 Ice skating
Surely you've run into any, this winter Madrid has been filled with ice rinks everywhere. You can enjoy skating in Plaza de España, Atocha (next to the Reina Sofía Museum), Colón (a very big one), in Plaza de Cibeles or Matadero Madrid. Choose the one you like the most! The schedules are quite extensive and the prices are affordable.
11 Guided tours
The Madrid City Council has launched a program of guided walking tours through the streets of the city to learn about the culture and history of this place. There are 4 visits each week, in groups of 20 people and it will take approximately two hours. The themes are: Typical Christmas Shopping, Christmas Traditions, The Ratoncito Pérez (The Pérez Mouse) and Madrid and Legends, haunted houses and lights at Christmas. Which one do you prefer? On this website you can see the tours and times at which they will take place and here you can buy the ticket (it costs only 3€!).
12 San Silvestre Vallecana Race
Let's run! What a strange tradition, isn't it? Running because the year is coming to an end. Maybe it is a good way to lose weight after all the abundant lunches and dinners during these days. The San Silvestre race starts on December the 31th at 5:30pm from Concha Espina Street at the corner of Plaza Sagrados Corazones and ends at the Rayo Vallecano Stadium, in the Vallecas neighbourhood. You will run through the main streets of the city (10 kilometers). Its purpose is charitable, as part of the money is destined to the research of childhood cancer. You can register here.
13 Great Epiphany Concert
On January the 5th at 7:30 pm the Symphonic Orchestra and the Spanish Radio and TV Choir will give a Christmas concert, with music by Mozart, Beethoven, Korsakov, Donizetti and Ennio Morricone. You can listen to it live at the Teatro Monumental (the ticket costs from 30 euros) or, if you prefer, you can watch it on television on the La 2 channel or Clásica radio channel.
14 Three Magic Kings Parade
Finally, an almost obligatory activity if you are in Madrid on January the 5th is to see the traditional Madrid Three Magic Kings Parade. The route will be, as usual, from Nuevos Ministerios to Plaza de Cibeles, where the Three Kings will address the children and congratulate us on Christmas. The parade will start at 6:30 pm from the Plaza de San Juan de la Cruz and on 8:45 pm the Three Magic Kings are expected to be in Plaza de Cibeles.
Can you think of any other cool things to do? This year let's enjoy Christmas atmosphere in Madrid. We are waiting for you!