10 Top Tips for December in Madrid
the city turns into a multicolored world of joy with cheerful people strolling the bustling streets
If you are travelling to Madrid during the month of December and you want to know what you should be watching, tasting, listening to or simply taking in, we have kindly come up with our top ten things to do in Madrid to help you out - enjoy!
On December the 6th, Spain commemorates a Constitution that began in 1978 - the National First Law. Every year, on the 6th of December, the Parliament opens its doors to all those who wish to visit and take a look at the chamber where laws are discussed and passed. You can also take a seat on the same chairs as the government and stand where politicians make their speeches into the camera…
When: December 6th 2011
Tour the City’s Lights
Take a night tour throughout the centre of Madrid. Every year at Christmas, the city turns into a multicolored world of joy with cheerful people strolling the bustling streets.
Year after year, Spain’s best fashion designers are challenged to create most of the decorations that will light and decorate the streets of the capital. Ángel Schlesser dressed Princesa Street, Jose Ortega y Gasset was designed by Hannibal Laguna, Purificación García took careofGoya Street, Juanjo Oliva did the same in Jorge Juan Street and Ana Locking channeled her flair into Fuencarral and Montera Streets. Meanwhile Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada decorated the Puerta del Sol, Juan Duyos dressed up Bravo Murillo and Amaya Arzuaga created the decoration of General Ricardos Street.
Others leaving their unique stamp on their city during the Yuletide period are Architects like Teresa Sapey, who stamped out her personality in Serrano and Hortaleza Streets, while Ben Busche did similar things in Gran Vía, Mayor, Ballesta Streets as well as in the Literary Quarter. Last but not least, designers like Roberto Turégano decorated Velázquez Street and Sergio Sebastián worked his magic in Chueca.
When: Every day from December the 3rd to January the 6th
Try the Christmas Lottery
Ever since 1812 Spaniards have kept the ancient tradition of betting to win the Christmas lottery. As measured by the total prize payout, the Christmas Lottery is considered the biggest lottery worldwide.
During the first days of December, crowds of people, form long queues at the Puerta del Sol to buy a ticket to win the jackpot
The tickets are sold as tenths (called décimos) since the entire ticket is ten times the tenths. It’s considered even more expensive if you consider that most of the people bet for numerous ticket numbers. Each ticket is a combination of five numbers, each of them from zero to nine.
According to different sources, just over 98% of all Spanish people hold at least one ticket for the Christmas Lottery each year, even if they don’t gamble during the rest of the year.
The first price called El Gordo (the fat) will pay you around 15.000 times the amount you have bet and bought. Are you going to loose the chance to be a millionaire?
When: December 22nd 2011, where you can get tickets at the Puerta del Sol.
See the Red Hot Chili Peppers in Concert
The Red Hot Chili Peppers are back on stage with their latest album "I'm with You" proving that their sound is even better than before. The legendary rock band makes a scheduled stop in Madrid on their European tour and the American group will be presenting their tenth studio album release five years after their double album ‘Stadium Arcadium’.
When: December 17th 2011
Visit the Open Christmas Market at the Plaza Mayor
Every year during the whole month of December dozens of stalls stand on the square of Plaza Mayor round the equestrian statue of King Felipe III to sell household decorations and all kinds of Christmas goodies.
Madrid has held this traditional open market since 1860 and is a popular place for locals to go in search of any remaining items to complete their festive decorations – think fairy lights, tinsel and gold baubles for the Christmas tree. You’ll also find hundreds of different figures representing the Nativity scene…
When: Plaza Mayor until January the 6th
Taste some Christmas Turrón
A popular ancient Spanish tradition at Christmas is to eat turrón. This tasty, sweet dessert, is typically made of honey, sugar, egg and toasted almonds or nuts and usually shaped into a rectangular tablet. Nowadays it’s becoming more popular to coat it with chocolate. There are so many patisseries where you can buy it, but we do recommend Casa Mira, an ancient shop that opened their doors over 100 years ago…
Where: Casa Mira at Carrera de San Jerónimo 30
Check out some Nativity Scenes
The nativity scene follows an ancient tradition started by Saint Francis of Assis in 1233 who intended to cultivate the worship of Christ by showing Jesus’ traditional birthplace, until it became an archetype in western Christian culture.
The basic scene represents the child Jesus, the Virgin Mary and Joseph, the shepherds and the worship of the three Wise Kings. However, most of them usually increase the number of figures with traditional jobs like shepherds, reaching in some cases hundreds figures and beautiful scenes.
Nativity scenes are set throughout the city of Madrid, in churches, shopping malls and other public venues - wherever you go in Madrid, you’ll find an amazing sample of Nativity scenes.
When: We suggest you check out the nativity scene at the City Hall from 10h to 20h
Watch Real Madrid versus Barcelona
The first match of the season between the two rivals, Real Madrid and Barcelona, is probably the best match you can watch in Europe nowadays! This time Real Madrid starts the match as the season leader, producing the best football of the last year...
It will be a never ending duel between two of the world best teams, the two best players: Messi and Cristiano, the two best coaches: Mourinho and Guardiola, and the duel for two different ways of playing; the Barcelona’s control system thanks to the best medium line in the world (Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc and Busquets) against the faster way of playing of the Real Madrid…
When: December 11th 2011, Stadium Santiago Bernabeu
Run (or watch!) the San Silvestre 10Km Race
It’s probably the finest way to send off the year. Over 35.000 runners will attend the most popular 10K race in the world running while welcome the New Year. This huge crowd of runners will take to the streets both in the amateur category and the professional one, in which athletes such as Tadese and Chema Martinez will try to win this amazing race.
San Silvestre also has an enjoyable route that starts by Real Madrid Stadium and finishes at the stadium of one of the other teams of the city: Rayo Vallecano. The race is not too demanding since most of the route is a little downhill and just the ninth km is a bit hilly. Some of the runners also run in fancy dress!
When: Every year on December 31st
Eat 12 Grapes at Puerta del Sol
The Twelve Grapes tradition known as the 12 grapes of luck is an ancient Spanish tradition that dates from the XIX century when some vine growers from the east coast of Spain started it to sell out the surplus of grapes on an excellent harvest.
The tradition consists of eating one grape with each bell strike just at midnight, about 15 seconds before the end of the year, if you do so a year of prosperity will be yours!
The twelve grapes are linked to Puerta del Sol since the clock which is set on top of the local government is the one that strikes the bell for midnight…
The idea is to eat them all, and then wash them down with a glass of Cava - a Spanish bubbly very similar to Champagne.
If you are in Madrid, don’t miss this tradition!
When: December 31st 2011 at Puerta del Sol