Things to Do in Madrid at Christmas

Christmas is the perfect time to share and enjoy Madrid. Unlike other European cities, Madrid has a mild winter, with temperature rarely reach zero degrees, clear skies and little rain. Temperatures in Madrid in December are between 35°F and 51°F, with an average of 44°F. Good weather favors the activity on the streets, including concerts, markets and food stalls.

Madrid Christmas Lights 2013

©Ana María Guardia

Madrid Christmas Lights

Madrid authorities organize an annual display of lights and decorations that turn the city into a feast for the senses. Recession has forced the city to cut down the hours of the light show from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. only Sundays to Wednesdays, and from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Of course! On Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve the lights remain on until 3:00 a.m.

Special schedule applies on December 24th and January 5th, will be from 18:00 to 03:00, on December 25th, January 1st and January 6th, will be from 18:00 to 00:00 hours, and on December 31st from 18:00 to 06:00.

Decorating the city is a tradition and honor awarded to prominent figures in art, design and decoration. This past year some of the scenes were created by famous fashion designers Ángel Schlesser, Hanníbal Laguna and Purificación García.

For those interested in watching the whole city Christmas decoration, there is a service called Navibus. This bus does a route of 50 minutes through the city lights and decorations from Calle Serrano going through Plaza Independencia, Calle Alcalá, Plaza Cibeles, Gran Vía, Plaza Callao, Jacometrezo, Plaza Santo Domingo, Calle San Bernardo, Calle Velazquez and Calle Ortega y Gasset. The stop is in number 30 of Serrano Street. There is a bus every 5 to 10 minutes.

In 2014, the lights will be turn on December 28th.

People walking along Gran Via at Christmas

©Daniel Lobo

Nativity Scenes

Christmas trees and Christmas lights are a relatively new tradition in Spain. Being a Catholic country, Christmas would not be complete with out a Nativity Scene. Here, every house shows its own Nativity Scene. Some of them are rare and antique pieces kept in the family for generations. Doing the nativity scene is a Spanish tradition that brings together the family during the holidays.

There are also important Nativity Scenes located along the city as a decoration, like the one in CentroCentro or in Plaza Mayor. Part of the local tradition is to go around the city visiting the best nativity scenes and enjoying the Christmas spirit.

People at Plaza Mayor Christmas Market Madrid


Christmas Markets

Madrid markets often make special schedule at Christmas. They also decorate their alleys with Christmas ornaments and lights. Besides, the regular markets there are certain areas in the city where temporary Christmas markets are settle in.

Plaza Mayor Christmas Market

The biggest Christmas market in Madrid is the one settle in Plaza Mayor. The square is filled with a vast array of stalls offering mainly decorations, Christmas trees, artisan products, farmer products, organic food, candles and jewelry. Besides the stalls, the market also counts with a carrousel and other fair appliances.

Tradition states that after visiting the market you need a good snack, like churros with hot chocolate or coffee with pastries. There are plenty of places around Plaza Mayor to enjoy a good snack and rest your feet.

Plaza Mayor Christmas Market December 2014

©M a n u e l

Plaza España Christmas Market

Although the market in Plaza Mayor is the most famous, you can also enjoy a nice market in Plaza España. This year will be open from December 13th to January 5th. This market is also known as the Community of Madrid Craft Fair. In recent years it has become increasingly popular regarding the importance of the handcraft work has acquire in the Spanish market. In this street market you can buy unique handmade products of all kinds made by more than 200 artisans from across the country, some even internationally renowned.

Santa Hustle Madrid December 2014


Madrid Santa Hustle

In 2013, the first Madrid Santa Hustle was organized with an amazing participation. This curious tradition began in some American cities and has spread worldwide. In Madrid, this race is a recent addition to the holiday’s season, which could eventually rival with the famous San Silvestre Race –held in Vallecas each December 31st.

This year’s the 5.5-kilometers Santa Race will be held December 13th along the Paseo de la Castellana. The city of Madrid and the event’s sponsors have proposed the challenge to break the Guinness World Record for most participants in a Santa Claus Hustle. We’ll see if they succeed!

If you are spending the whole holyday season in Madrid, check also New Year’s Eve in Madrid and Celebrating Epiphany in Madrid.

Find things to do in Madrid, Spain, one of the world’s trendiest destination.


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