When talking about Spain, destinations such as Barcelona, Seville or Mallorca may come to mind, however, wonderful cities like Madrid remain somewhat overshadowed. The iconic Spanish capital is ideal to visit all year round! Especially at Christmas Eve, Madrid becomes a magical city, where you can find countless exciting activities to enjoy a unique holiday with your partner or family. From admiring the twinkling Christmas lights in the city center to a memorable dinner with admission to an exclusive ice rink included, these are the top 5 Christmas experiences in Madrid you can’t miss this festive season.
1. Christmas Lights Tour: a Glowing City to Discover
During Christmas, Madrid is flooded with lights and colorful decorations. Each year the illumination features proposals from Spanish artists, designers and architects. More than 230 sites have been lit up this year, with 6,700 string lights, 115 cherry trees and 13 huge glowing fir trees spread all over the capital. The giant natural fir tree in Plaza de España and the 35-meter golden tree in Puerta del Sol are my favorite this year!
The figurative Nativity scenes (Belenes) are a must-see attraction, including the Neapolitan Nativity scene in the Royal Palace and the Nativity scenes at Cibeles Palace and at Community of Madrid’s building in Puerta del Sol. The big Christmas ball located at the confluence of Alcalá Street and Gran Vía, the shining menina at Paseo del Prado and the nativity scene at Plaza de Colón inevitably will catch the eyes of both, locals and visitors.
This route can be done on foot or you can take the Naviluz Bus Tour to go through some of the most emblematic streets of the city and enjoy the Christmas lights in a different way. Madrid’s Christmas lights began to shine last November 26th and will do so until January 6th.
2. Christmas Markets: Plaza Mayor and More
One of the unmissable Christmas plans in Madrid is to visit the Christmas Market in Plaza Mayor, while it’s not the only one, it is certainly the most popular. This traditional market originated four centuries ago after the evolution of a previous seasonal market, where merchants from all over Spain used to sell fruits and vegetables every winter in Madrid. Gradually, they were replaced by candy and nougat stands. Nowadays, you can also find toys, trees, candles, ornaments, and basically anything you need to decorate your home for Christmas!
This year you can also explore a very nice Christmas market in the revamped Plaza de España, and the usual Christmas market of El Corte Ingles in the Plaza de Callao, as well as the fabulous gastronomic market in Plaza de Isabel II, with Madrid Opera House in the background, to take with you the best nougat, polvorones and holiday cakes.
3. Musicals and Ballet Shows: Best Winter Season Performances
Madrid is a city with a wonderful artistic vibe. The numerous theaters on Gran Vía are proof of this, filled with spectators in search of both culture and entertainment. One of the best shows in town this winter is Nutcracker brilliantly performed by the Kiev Ballet. Tchaikovsky’s thrilling play enhances Madrid’s Christmas spirit with an unforgettable performance choreographed by the world-famous ballerina Ana Sophia Scheller.
Other worthwhile shows include “Tina”, the Tina Turner musical, already in its final performances, “Singin’ in the Rain”, a classic set in the golden age of musicals, and the always cheerful “Mamma Mia”, for non-stop sing-alongs with your friends and family.
4. Christmas at Rosewood Villa Magna Hotel: Best Ice Skating Along with Fantastic Gatronomic Experiences
The Rosewood Hotel Villa Magna offers an excellent 5-star Christmas experience until January 28th that you can’t miss! The hotel gardens have turned into the best skating rink in Madrid. You can add more fun to the evening with different gourmet options at their premises. Specifically for this festive season, they have created the Après-Skate Lounge, where you can enjoy a mulled wine and champagne paired with oysters and raclette, or simply taste Madrid’s traditional churros with chocolate. For those with a sweet tooth, the Flor y Nata Bakery serves the best Christmas cakes and roscones, which you can even order ahead of time for Three Kings Day on January 6th.
The best part is that access to the ice rink is complimentary to all customers of Las Brasas de Castellana Restaurant, Amós Restaurant, the new Après-Skate Lounge and Afternoon Tea at Flor y Nata.
5. Three Kings Parade: Exclusive Balcony with an Exceptional View
All Christmas days are special in Madrid, but the cherry on top of the festivities is the Three Kings Parade every January 5th. Locals and visitors congregate along Paseo de la Castellana to witness a colorful procession of floats that starts at Plaza de San Juan de la Cruz and finishes at Cibeles fountain.
Hotels along the avenue definitely have the best views overlooking the parade so an ideal plan is to reserve a private balcony from which to share such a special and exciting event with your loved ones in a different way. From the suites of Miguel Angel Hotel and InterContinental Madrid Hotel, you will have the best panoramic views of the parade!
Madrid is a vibrant city full of life and movement! If you visit the Spanish capital during Christmas time, you will immediately fall in love with its beautiful streets full of lights plus you will have plenty of festive activities to experience. Most of these suggestions come back every year with a different twist or there will be new plans to make the most of your holidays. You will inevitably get caught up in the Christmas spirit and will wish to return again.