And once again it is Christmas time in Madrid, like in the rest of the world. Lights, presents, delicious food (and extra kilos to be gained!), Christmas markets and, of course, events and many, many cool things to do in the capital of Spain. Read our blog article to find out more about our Christmas traditions and get some cool ideas for New Year’s Eve!

And once again it is Christmas time in Madrid, like in the rest of the world.

Lights, presents, delicious food (and so many extra kilos to be gained!), Christmas markets  and, of course, events and many, many cool things to do in the capital of Spain. 

Madrid gets packed with people and illuminated with beautiful bright lights during Christmas; Plaza Mayor becomes even more charming with its typical “Christmas Gift Box” decorations and the annual “Gran Gala” that officially opens the holiday season not only in Madrid but all over Spain.  A huge 15 meter high Christmas tree is built in the middle of the plaza  and a concert is held in this beautiful square: what an awesome way to kick off the Christmas season!

Let’s not forget that Plaza Mayor is also the place where Madrid’s biggest Christmas market takes place: it usually opens on the last week of November and the market stalls spill over into nearby Plaza Santa Cruz. 

So, it all begins at Plaza Mayor, and then what happens during the holiday in one of the most beautiful cities in the world?

Here are some tips from Mad4You Hostel to fully enjoy this magical time:

Take the Navibus: we actually have a bus that takes you to see all the Christmas lights throughout the city. It’s called the Navibus (“Navidad” is the Spanish word for Christmas) and for only €2 you get to sit and enjoy the magic of a perfectly illuminated Madrid. Take your loved one and hop on this bus!

Go see a Nativity scene: being a Catholic country, Nativity scenes are everywhere in Spain and are very important. Spanish people love to build Nativity scenes with all sorts of materials and you can find them in Government buildings, museums, the Town Hall, etc, etc… If you are lucky you can also witness a living Nativity scene with actual people and animals.

Play the lottery: this country goes crazy for the Christmas Lottery. It’s one of the most interesting and most typical aspect of the Spanish tradition and it is a must for every true Madrileño! It is actually the second longest continuously running lottery in the world and it is always held on December 22nd: the most desired prize is “El Gordo” (literally “the fat one”) and it is such an important social phenomenon, that whenever you see a line of people waiting downtown, its most likely they are waiting to buy a ticket for the Loteria de Navidad!

Celebrate “Nochebuena”: December 24th  (Christmas Eve or Nochebuena in Spanish), is a family celebration in which Spaniards often gather around a table and have a huge delicious dinner together: traditional foods for the Christmas Eve dinner include all types of seafood such as “Angulas” (baby eels) or the alternative “gulas”, artificially made to look like baby eels but made of a fish mix. Many people on this special night also open presents under the tree or attend the “Misa del Gallo”, a mass service offered at midnight during which Christmas carols are sung.

Play the “Amigo Invisible” with your friends: a very fun Christmas tradition, which is the Spanish version of Secret Santa! ¨Amigo Invisible¨ literally means “The Invisible Friend”. How does it work? With a group of friends, family or colleagues, names of all participants are written on pieces of papers and put in a bag or box. Each member then takes one slip of paper from the bag and has to buy a present for that person who has officially become his or her invisible friend, since the recipient of the present does not know who the buyer is. A further variant of the game is guessing who the amigo invisible is when opening the presents. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

Celebrate “Los Reyes”: although most presents are opened on Christmas Eve or Christmas day, it is more traditional in the Spanish culture to give and receive gifts on the day of the “Reyes Magos” (“Three Wise Kings” or “Epiphany”), which is on the 6th of January. On the previous evening there are large processions in most Spanish towns to celebrate the arrival of the 3 Wise Kings (Melchor, Gaspar & Baltasar) who are bringing gifts to the children who behaved well. It is also a must on this day to eat the delicious “Roscon de Reyes”, a ring shaped cake that has a surprise inside(usually a small trinket or gift).

So, did we make you excited to celebrate and discover Christmas time in Madrid? And how about New Year’s Eve? 

Madrid is one of those cities where New Year’s Eve is definitely celebrated in the streets: favorable climate, magical atmosphere and the not-to-be-missed “Noche Vieja¨ at Puerta del Sol. Here are some tips on how to spend the last night of 2015 in the most “Madrilenian” way possible:

Eat grapes at Puerta del Sol:  Every year thousands of people come together at Madrid’s main square: Puerta del Sol, and wait for the new year to come.  Everybody is looking at the ancient clock, situated on the tower of the “Real Casa de Correos¨ building (the old post office). As the clock strikes, 12 resounding tolls of the bells ring in the New Year, people start (along with millions watching the square on TV) eating their twelve grapes to finish them before the last bell chimes in order to bring them luck in the upcoming year (so don’t forget to bring your own cluster!). Then the celebrations begin with lots of hugs, kisses and cava (a bubbling champagne-like Spanish wine).

Go clubbing after eating the 12 grapes and shouting “Feliz año nuevo!” to everybody around you, you can easily hit one of the many cool clubs surrounding Puerta del Sol: suggestions?

As New Years Eve is a big deal you shouldn’t settle for any club, but try to get into the best ones. One of the most popular and well frequented is definitely Kapital: everybody knows this theater shaped club with 7 (!) floors and several types of music. For this upcoming New Year’s Eve the entrance is €50 with 4 drinks included, from 0:30 to 6:00am.

http://www.grupo-kapital.com/kapital

Looking for something bigger? Then head to Fabrik, probably Madrid’s biggest club.It is located a little outside the city (no worries, there is a shuttle that will take you there and bring you back to the centre) but it’s worth a visit: for only €20 you get entrance, drinks, and a massive party.

http://www.grupo-kapital.com/fabrik

Wanting something more underground and less “commercial”? Then check out WAN Festival on the 1st of January: it’s a 12 hours party with the best international electronic music DJ’s, the cost is 50€ and it takes place at “La Cubierta de Leganes”, a temple of electronic music.

http://www.wanfestival.com

Cook a delicious dinner (in our fully equipped kitchen!): If you have decided to spend your last day of the year on a budget, gathering around with some friends or fellow travelers to have dinner and then hit the streets is no problem, Madrid is perfect also for this kind of plan. Avoid the pricey holiday menus and go to one of the many markets in Madrid (take a look at our blog entry number 2 – https://www.mad4youhostel.com/es/node/125 – to find out more about the subject) to shop: Spaniards usually have lots of seafood during the Holidays (langostinos – shrimps – are to die for). So why not do a big shared compra and enjoy some home cooked meal all together at the Hostel! (and maybe bring some leftovers to our lovely receptionists 😉 

After dinner, grab the booze and get lost in the city with your new friends (public drinking is usually illegal in Spain but for this occasion the Spanish authorities make an exception),  go enjoy the fireworks, meet new people in the streets, wait for the morning light to come and get some fresh churros to start 2016 in the best way possible!

So…. have you booked your ticket to Madrid (and reserved a bed at Mad4You Hostel) yet?

We send you our biggest hug (and Christmas wishes) from an always sunny Madrid,

The Mad4You Hostel Team!