/ The Madrid Guide
Madrid — By Nellie Huang on May 13, 2010 at 9:53 am
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San Isidro Festival in Madrid

Traditional dresses

The biggest festival in Madrid is right around the corner! In 2 days’ time, on the 15th May, the whole city is coming together to celebrate the annual festival of their patron saint festival in style. With fiestas and carnivals going on the whole week, celebrations have started on the 12th May and will last till the 16th May. An exciting range of festivities will be taking place through out Madrid: from open-air concerts to traditional dances, urban music festival and parades of gigantes y cabezudos. Expect to see locals dressed in traditional Madrileño costumes: girls outfitted in long flowy dresses, silk shawls and a red rose in their hair and men dressed in flat hats and waist coats. Time to gear up for the fiesta!

Here are some highlights of the festival that are worth catching:

Plaza Mayor: Traditional Dances

Plaza Mayor, the main square in Madrid’s old quarter, erupts with a different kind of energy during San Isidro. Playing host to numerous open air concerts, traditional dance performances and carnival stalls, it is also the stage for the older generation to strut their stuff in their traditional dresses. In the square, you’ll find many of them pairing up and dancing to the music. The numerous tapas bars and restaurants in the square will be packed to the brim so be sure to get there early! Throughout the week, activities here will start from 11am and last all the way till late evening.

Parade of the giantsCasa de Campo: Open-air Bars and Carnival

Further out of the city, the sprawling park at Casa de Campo provides a massive green area for people to dance and party. Open-air bars and food stalls will be feeding the crowd with typical Madrileño tapas and refreshing beers. This is the best spot to soak up some sun in May and enjoy a day immersing in festive mood.

Plaza de las Vistillas

A stage is set up at Plaza de las Vistillas, next to Palacio Real, as the main hosting ground for the San Isidro event. The statue of the patron saint, San Isidro, is parade to this spot and then placed here for the crowd to admire and worship. Similar to Plaza Mayor, many get on their feet and dance here, giving it a upbeat festive atmosphere. At night, there are several concerts held here, with classic Spanish band performances.

Puerta del Sol: Parade de Gigantes y Cabezudos

This unique parade of giant figures along the streets of downtown Madrid is one of its kind, only held during this time of the year. Each year, this parade takes place without fail. With the aim of spreading happiness and a little comical touch to the festival, the parade definitely does the trick of infecting the crowd with joy. Starting from Plaza de Santo Domingo, it will pass through Calle Preciados, Puerta del Sol and Calle Mayor before ending the show at Plaza de las Vistillas.

Plaza de Toro: Bullfights

Over at the Plaza de Toro Las Ventas, another kind of celebration takes places, one involving ferocious bullfights. Since the start of the San Isidro celebrations, bullfights have always played an important role. This festival marks the start of the bullfighting season in Madrid. Over 30 days of events, the world’s top bullfighters gather here to put their skills to the test. Get your tickets in advance if you want to catch a master bullfighter. Fights usually begin at 7pm and weekend shows involve the best bullfighters.

Bullfight in Madrid

Website: San Isidro Festival

Dates: 12-16 May

Where: Various locations around the city

Prices: All celebrations are open to the public, there is no entrance fee.

Photo credits: Flickr creative commons photo by Alex Bikfalvi (traditional dresses), Paolo G (giant parade), Wagas Ahmed (bullfight).

Related places:
  1. A
    Plaza Mayor, 28012 Madrid
    Plaza Mayor, 28012 Madrid, Madrid, , ES
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  2. B
    Casa de Campo, 0, 28011 Madrid
    Casa de Campo, 0, 28011 Madrid, Spain
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  3. C
    Plaza de Gabriel Mir?, 7
    LA PLAZA DE LAS VISTILLAS, Plaza de Gabriel Miró, 7, 28005 Madrid, Spain
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  4. D
    Calle de Bailn, S/N
    Calle de Bailén, S/N, Madrid, , ES
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  5. E
    Plaza de Santo Domingo, 1
    Plaza de Santo Domingo, 1, Madrid, , ES
    View Details and Book
  6. F
    Calle de Preciados, 28
    Calle de Preciados, 28, Madrid, , ES
    View Details and Book
  7. G
    Quo Puerta Del Sol, 28013 Madrid
    Quo Puerta Del Sol, 28013 Madrid, , , ES
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  8. H
    Calle Mayor
    Calle Mayor, Madrid, Spain
    View Details and Book
  9. I
    Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas
    Calle de Alcalá, 237, 28028 Madrid, Spain
    View Details and Book


  • Melvin says:

    Sounds great!

    I would just leave the bullfight away (that’s an unfair event & with that just for cowards, if you ask me…) :)

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