Madrid, Spain’s vibrant capital, transforms into an enchanted setting during the Christmas season. If you’re a foreign student eager to immerse yourself in Spanish festive culture, here’s your guide to making the most of Christmas in Madrid.
What to do in Madrid to enjoy Christmas?
Start your Christmas adventure at Puerta del Sol, the epicenter of the celebrations. Here, the famous golden sphere descends to mark the start of the new year. During Christmas, the square is filled with dazzling lights and a festive atmosphere. Don’t miss the opportunity to try the traditional Spanish grapes on New Year’s Eve, a unique experience!
Stroll along Gran Vía, one of Madrid’s most emblematic streets. During Christmas, this bustling thoroughfare is illuminated with bright lights and festive decorations. Shops and department stores, such as El Corte Inglés, are also decorated, creating the perfect setting for your Christmas shopping.
Head to the Plaza Mayor, where a Christmas market comes to life. Colourful stalls offer handmade gifts, festive decorations, and culinary delights. Immerse yourself in Spanish tradition and sample some of the local delicacies while enjoying the festive atmosphere of the square.
Experience the thrill of ice skating in the Plaza de Colón. The ice rink is a lovely place to enjoy with friends as you glide under Madrid’s starry skies. A fun and festive experience you won’t want to miss.
Many churches and cultural centers display nativity scenes (Belenes) from the beginning of Mary and Joseph’s journey to the adoration of the magi.
If you’re looking for a quiet respite, the Retiro Park offers a more relaxed atmosphere. Although it’s not as brightly lit as the city center, you can enjoy the park’s winter beauty as you stroll among the trees and ponds.
Consider taking the Naviluz sightseeing bus for a tour of Madrid’s main streets and illuminated monuments. It’s a great way to see the city from a different perspective and capture the magic of the Christmas lights.
Check out the calendar of events and Christmas shows that Madrid has to offer. From concerts and theatrical performances to cultural activities, there are plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in Spain’s rich cultural tradition.
Walk through its streets and enjoy its Christmas lights.
You can start your tour in Plaza de España and admire its spectacular lights. There you will find a giant Christmas ball with a diameter of 12 meters and 43,000 LED lights that dance to the sound of soft background music.
Follow the route up Madrid’s Gran Vía, which at Christmas time becomes a magical artery illuminated by thousands of LED lights, until you reach the Metrópolis Building, at the intersection with Calle Alcalá.
It continues from Alcalá to Plaza de Cibeles and Puerta de Alcalá. Seeing its famous fountain, the façade of the town hall and the trees lit up for Christmas is unforgettable.
Then head through the streets of the Salamanca neighborhood with its rich lighting: beautiful Calle Serrano.
From there, head to the Plaza de Colón with its 10-metre-high 3D nativity scene with the silhouettes of the Sagrada Familia.
Walk down the Paseo de Recoletos with the luminaires reproducing the Spanish flag and then along the Paseo del Prado. Between Cibeles and Neptuno, one of the big attractions is a giant Menina, 10 meters high and 7.5 meters wide, illuminated by 37 000 lights.
On the Paseo del Prado, the Botanical Garden of Madrid is another of the key points of the Christmas lighting. Enjoy its Naturaleza Encendida (Lit Nature) show, which fills plants and trees with magic and color.
From there, head to the iconic Plaza de la Puerta del Sol with its huge conical fir tree, 35 meters high and 14 meters in diameter.
The illuminated entrances to Plaza Mayor, the Christmas decorations on Calle Mayor or around the Royal Palace and Plaza de Oriente are another great landmark to end this tour of Madrid’s Christmas lights.
Get to know Madrid’s Christmas Markets
Plaza Mayor Christmas Market
In the middle of Madrid’s Plaza Mayor, a Christmas Market is held every year.
You can enjoy it from 24 November to 31 December 2023.
It is made up of red stalls with pointed roofs where all kinds of Christmas articles and jokes are sold.
It is a tradition to go every year with the family and buy a new figurine for the Nativity Scene.
Castellana Christmas Market
It is made up of numerous stalls in the purest European style, where you can buy all kinds of details and articles to give as presents or decorate your home: decorations, gifts, typical sweets, gastronomy and much more.
You can enjoy it from 20 November to 5 January 2024.
There will also be food trucks where you can eat and drink to your heart’s content and many more surprises.
Plaza de España Christmas market
At the Plaza de España Christmas market you will find Christmas decorations and craft stalls.
It is made up of 40 stalls selling crafts and products.
From 23 November to 7 January 2024.
Paseo de Recoletos Craft Market Fair
The Asociación Madrileña de Oficios Artesanos organises this market every year from the 1st to the 31st of December.
A unique occasion to buy gifts of great handicraft value and with a lot of charm.
Madrid at Christmas time is a unique experience full of light, color and joy. With this guide, you’ll be ready to explore the city and immerse yourself in the magic of the Christmas season. Merry Christmas!