I have been in Madrid in May as it is a fine period for the weather between cold winter and super hot summer. No particular problem with the Feria di San Isidro; Madrid is always full of life.
It seemed to me that the festivities turned a lot about the daily bullfights at the famous arenas of Las Ventas. Toreros and "aficionados" all over our hotel and Las Ventas full booked. The Feria di San Isidro is a mix of a religious feast on 15 May and a most important bullfighting festival from 7/05 - 31/05/2009.
Best is to stay away in the late afternoon from the subway lines 2 and 5 who bring the crowds to Plaza de LAS VENTAS.
This year from 10/05 - 02/06/2011. Each day there are corridas.
See the biggest flag in all of Spain fly freely in the Spanish Sunshine.
Local Holidays for Flag waving include:
National Day 12th. October
San Isidro Day 15th. May
Constitution Day 6th. December
King's Day San Juan 24th. June
Madrid, mid August. One half of the city's population is on vacation, fighting for the last portion of decent beach in Torremolinos. The other half enjoys a metropolis which has suddenly become a small village, where you can drive (and park!) everywhere, traffic jams are a fairytale and the street becomes a Verbena. A pessimist will say that Madrid is half empty during August. For me, it is definitely half full.
More text and pictures in the travelogue
On the 15th May is the local Festivity of San Isidro. There are many celebrations around, specially on that day.
But on all that week and the previous, you will find many many concerts, exhibitions and so.
More info at www.munimadrid.com
BTW, if you come in that week, reserve in advance, just in case...
May the 2nd is Community of Madrid local festivity, commemorating the beginning of the Resistance against the Napoleonic invasion of 1808 (blah blah blah, boring historical fact). The real live fact is that it makes a wonderful long weekend holiday at the beginning of May, which is the very best month to visit Madrid, imho.
During that weekend, there are plenty of cultural activities in the city. Among my favorites, I'll put the free concerts at Plaza del 2 de Mayo (Malasa?a district). Live music, tasty and grassy food, plenty of beer... My kind of place! :-D
Though not as fervent catholic as the myth states, religious traditions had strong roots in Spain, particularly during Easter. During Semana Santa, the processions took by assault the streets of every mayor city or village of the country, and Madrid is not an exception.
Please, check my “Easter in Madrid” travelogue, for further info about this religious celebration.
In Spain, 6th January is an important date - in fact the most important date - in the Christmas calendar (el calendario deNavidad)......
This date is known as Los Reyes Magos, named after the Magi - three wise men who supposedly followed a bright shining star to arrive at the manger where Jesus Christ was born.
So, as part of the festivities to celebrate, towns throughout Spain have a procession of the Kings. In Madrid, this takes part through a central part of the city, starting at Nuevos Ministerios and following the path down Paseo de la Castellana towards Plaza de Colón and further beyond. Thousands of people turn out onto the streets to watch the many different colourful floats passing, in expectation of the giant sized ´Kings´, who come bearing gifts.....
Thousands of sweets are thrown into the crowds for the children to share, and so you will find the many excited children lining the front of the crowd along the procession.
Also on this special day, a cake is eaten - roscón de reyes, which you will see all over the city filling the windows of many a pastelería. The cake can be bought with/without cream (con/sin nata) and is covered in green and red ´jewels´... inside the cake a treasure is hidden. A small King figurine is baked within it, to be found by just one lucky person when they take their slice. In a café yesterday, my friend was the lucky one!
I have added pictures here of a roscón for you to see, and will later add some of the street procession.
At the pic you can see the traditional dress of Madrid. They are mainly wear in the local festivities of San Isidro (15th May). At this pic you can see my younger daughter Celia wearing it at a school show :-))
The San Isidro fiesta, starts on the 15 of May and goes on for nine days.
That Fiesta is dedicated to San Isidro which is the patron saint of Madrid. San Isidro is Madrid's most melodious fiesta. The main stage is always in the Plaza Mayor and during every day and night of the 9 day festival, it is easy to find various concerts and traditional dancing.
Easter is one of the most important religious holidays in Spain. Most cities have Easter processions on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, and Madrid's and Toledo's processions count among the most important. If you are lucky enough, as I was, to be in Spain during Semana Santa, then you must catch one of these processions. You must also enter churches to see the statues of the Virgin surrounded by candles and flowers (see photos).
The Carnival take place in the barrios of Madrid, for several days. You can see, again, parades, people with costume, fancy dresses, masks. Lots of happiness and fun
For the exact dates it is better to take a look at www.guiadelocio.com/madrid or just buy it (guia del ocio) its cost 1 euro and its gives all information necessary.
Lots of festivals in Madrid take a place during summer time (July-August).
Veranos de la Villa is the main one and the best way to learn more about it and about the fest locations is to check their web at:
First tow weeks of August is a good opportunity to visit "La Latina" zone of Madrid, and enjoy there the local fest of Los Tres Santos.
The Tres Santos refer to (San Lorenzo, San Cayetano, La Virgin de laPaloma)
For me, the best time to visit Madrid is during September and October . It's not hot anymore as it used to be a month or tow ago. Weather inspire you to travel around and do more things, including take a part at the local fest at the end of the summer.
during this time the Fiesta de Otonio presents music and theatre performs that can last untill x-mass.
Jazz , Blues and Gospel are the last fest of the year. Those events lock, in an unofficial way, the year. A minute before the X-mass Madrid host the music festival, so if you are in town during winter and just before winter vocation here is a nice thing for you to do.
To ring in the new year, gather in and around Puerta del Sol to capture live concerts, fireworks and the Madrid spirit. At midnight it is customary to place a grape in your mouth each time the bell rings: 12 grapes, 12 bells. I was told not to chew or swallow until the all 12 were in my mouth.
If your hotel doesn't provide you with the bubbly and grapes purchase it from the many vendors in the area.