10 Ways to Capture that Holiday Spirit in Madrid

Christmas Tree in SOL

The holidays can melancholic for many expats away from home. It’s difficult for newcomers and may not always come easy either for those who have been away for years. Whatever it may be that has left you longing for more holiday cheer, some of these ideas could help you find a little more Christmas spirit!

Ride the Christmas Bus – See all the decorative Christmas lights displayed throughout the city by taking a ride along the top of a double decker bus, aptly named the NaviBus. More information here.

Ride the Christmas Train – Go back in time by taking a historical train ride on board a vintage steam locomotive in the Museo del Ferrocarril. During the tour, travelers can enjoy a dramatization designed especially for children (and , in addition to the company of the Three Kings. There are 4 tours daily, each lasting one hour. Tickets are 12€ including the tour, performance and entry to the museum. Tickets can be purchased at the museum or on Renfe.

Go Ice Skating – Although there may be no falling white snow, there is ice!  And where there is ice, there is ice skating!  Through early January, you can practice your best figure eights and axel jumps in any of the outdoor ice rinks around Madrid.

See The Nutcracker – Known as Cascanueces, enjoy the popular holiday ballet performance on Gran Via! Purchase discounted tickets here.

See the Belens – Witness some of the most beautiful and intricate Belens or Nativity scenes constructed in many churches and cultural centers throughout the city.  Much time and detailed effort has been put forth to recreate these scenes from the town of Bethlehem.  The biggest display is in Cibeles. View a list of all the nativity scenes here.

See Cortylandia – a holiday childhood nostalgia for many madrileños, this animated, musical performance by puppets in El Corte Ingles will sure to bring out the child in you! View more information here.

Indulge in Holiday Snacks – During this time of year, you can find many stands throughout the city center selling holiday snacks like the aromatic castañas or chestnuts and sweet potatoes that are being roasted right before your eyes.  Also, be sure to also try the popular Christmas time sweets such as Panettone, Mazapán, Roscón, Turrón and Churros & Hot Chocolate!

New Years Eve in SOL– The place to countdown the New Year is in the Puerta del Sol, where everyone will be packed in tightly with grapes in one hand and a cup of cava in the other. It’s tradition in Spain to eat 12 grapes during countdown, popping in one grape at each strike. You can find individual cans of peeled and seeded grapes in the supermarkets making it easier to swallow. And then off to party! View complete description of New Years Eve Parties here.

Run (or cheer) in the Saint Sylvester Race – Every New Year’s Eve for over 30 years, about 40,000 people run this popular 10km race every year in Madrid. Register here.

Welcome the Arrival of The Three Kings – the holidays end with the Cabalgata de Reyes on January 6th. This spectacular and colorful display of floats and procession of the Kings begins its journey in the Plaza de San Juan de la Cruz, down the Paseo de la Castellana and ending its journey in Plaza de Cibeles.