Madrid Fiestas!

Madrid Fiestas is a useful tool in two ways. Firstly, you know which days the banks and shops etc will be closed but more importantly ... When & where the fiestas are!

Fiestas or public holidays form an important part of Spanish life and are based on dates that are important in the modern day Roman Catholic calendar. Originally many of these holidays were in the old Pagan calendar but with politics in the middle ages were soon assumed to be "part of the church". Don´t let the Spanish here you say that though!

It is normal that during Madrids various fiestas Tapas bars and restaurants produce special or more elaborate tapas at generally cheaper prices. They know they´ll get eaten!

Public Holiday, What to expect?

Public holidays are taken on the day they fall whether that be Midweek or weekend. In Spain the fiesta is not moved to the Monday or Friday to create three day weekends as is done in other countries. This means that a large percentage of people take days off, "puentes" (bridge), to create four or five day weekends.

Puentes see all the main transport infrastructure overwhelmed and overpriced therefore, if possible, Madrid Guide Spain recomends not travelling on these days.

Other public holiday happenings:

  • All Public offices close
  • All shops and 90% commercial centres Close
  • Bars and restaurants open as normal
  • Reduced services Public transport
  • Museums remain open
  • Extended opening hours at many attractions.
  • Reduced Medical and Emergency services
  • Increased Taxi fares and limited availability

NOTE: Public holidays in Spain are of two types: Regional & National. Just because ther is a Public holiday in Madrid it does not necessarily mean the rest of Spain is on vacation as well...

Madrid Fiestas

New years Day
1st Jan

Celebrated the world over as the start of the... new year. In Madrid fiestas take place in many bars however the main celebration is in the "Puerta del Sol" or "Sol" as it is more commonly known.

Tradition is that at the stroke of Midnight the clock strikes 12 times and for seach striking you eat a whole grape. Bars and households all follow this tradition and nobody knows how it started!!

Epiphany / Kings day
6th Jan

The day it is said the three kings bought gifts for Jesus. In the majority of households gifts are exchanged on this day. For those interested in visiting Madrids stores the sales start on the 7th.

Easter weekend
5th,6th & 9th April

Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Monday are celebrated without easter eggs or any such traditions. This is a time of serious church going and religious festivities. Various Madrid churches use this time for the moving of effergies from one chuch to another in large public ceremonies.

Day of the worker
1st May

A day off given in recognition of the worker, hardly one of the most animated of Madrids fiestas. Big protests are always planned for the centre of the city so best to avoid Sol, Plaza Ciebeles, Puerta de Toledo and Plaza Colon during this day.

Madrid Community day
2nd May

A fiesta celebrating the creation of the Madrid region. Various street performances and special events take place all over the city.

San Isidro / Saint Isidro
15th May

The most popular of the many Madrid fiestas (Is it possible to have too many?) this day starts 30 days of celebrations accross the city. San Isidro is the Patron saint of both Madrid and also Agriculture. The famous Bullfights of San Isidro are the most well known aspect of this holiday but parties can be found going on just about everywhere.

Check out our guide to the fiesta San Isidro.

Ascension Day
15th August

A celebration of the day in which the Virgin Mary was accepted into heaven. Celebrated in Madrid by processions and special church services. Of all the Religious services this is the least vigourously observed...due to everyone being on the beach!

Dia de la Hispanidad / National Day
12th October

This can not be defined as a Madrid fiesta in the party sense. Celebrating the birth of the Spanish unified nation this day is marked by military parades along the Paseo de la castellana. Great if soldiers in uniform is your thing but otherwise a little trying!

All Saints Day
1st November

A catholic based holiday in which special mass is celebrated. Normally a low key affair and the day in which everyone visits the graveyard to lay flowers, carry out maintenance and celebrate dead relatives.

Feast of the Virgin Almudena
9th November

The Virgin Almudena is in reality the virgin Mary however the Spanish name her differently in each region. Many Madrileños will eat out at restaurants either for Lunch or Dinner this day. The Cathedral Almudena in front of the Royal Palace holds a special ceremony

Consitution Day
6th December

In 1978, three years after Francos death in 1975, the people of Spain approved a referendum defining the Constitution of Spain. This set out how government would be run, what powers they had etc etc and determined the governmental system that Spain lives in today. Each 6th December constitution day is celebrated throughout Spain in rememberance of when the country became a democracy.

This day is principally seen as the start of the December holidays and a long weekend is normally taken in conjunction with the Feast of the immaculate conception. In recent years Contitution day has become popular for protest marches and political statements.

Day of the Immaculate Conception
8th December

Based upon the Catholic dogma that states that whilst becoming pregnant the Virgin Mary did not suffer the "original sin" as she was "filled by god" and as such the conception was "immaculate". Typically a day of additional church services in and around Madrid (and indeed all of Spain).

Christmas day
25th December

As in Christian countries the world over this day celebrates the birth of Jesus. However in Spain this day is not the day for exchanging gifts. This is done on the Kings day (6th Jan) when it is said the three kings bought gifts for Jesus. In some households a gift may be given on the night of the 24th but this is not the norm.

Now you know when the Madrid fiestas take place why not figure out where you want to go on these days?

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