Fiestas of Madrid Spain occur virtually all year long, but the best time to go to Madrid for the most important events is during the month of May. Another key period is around Easter, as this is a significant celebration time in this predominantly Catholic country. However, you are quite apt to happen on Madrid fiestas at any other time during the year. During the summer months, the weather is warmest and the city is particularly rich in festivals and celebrations. This is a time when the Madrilenos spend a great deal of time outdoors and bring their festivities out into the streets. There are also many national holidays and nationwide religious festivals.
Dos de Mayo (the second of May) is one of the most important dates in Madrid. This is the date in 1808 that saw a popular uprising that began in the Puerta del Sol district against the occupation of the city by Napoleon’s troops from France. The suppression after the unsuccessful revolt was brutal, but Dos de Mayo became the trigger for the Spanish War of Independence, which was joined by the United Kingdom and Portugal. Heroes of the war for independence are commemorated in squares and plazas throughout the city.
The first of May is already a national holiday, so the celebration of Dos de Mayo becomes an extension creating a two-day holiday during which there are parades, fireworks, and flamenco music all over the city. You will find numerous celebrations concentrated in Puerta del Sol, as well as in the area of Plaza Mayor.
Then comes San Isidro Madrid (May 15), a day set aside for festivities in honor of the male patron saint of the city. Known in English as Saint Isadore, San Isidro Madrid is also the patron saint of farmers. He himself was a poor farmer, and a number of miracles having to do with spring water, wells, and harvesting are attributed to him. The festival includes a week of celebrations that begin with a parade through the streets and pilgrimage to the well and springs where the saint is said to have saved his son from drowning through prayer and meditation. Throughout the week there are more performances, concerts, organ grinders, and other street performers, and you will see residents dressed in colorful traditional costumes throughout the city streets. You can learn more about this most important city festival and the history of the city at the San Isidro Museum.
San Isidro Madrid also signals the beginning of the bullfighting season, giving city residents another excuse for a full month of celebrations that last well into June. One of the most important of the fiestas of Madrid Spain is the San Isidro Bullfighting Festival that draws the best bullfighters and finest bulls from around the world to events at the Las Ventas Bullring. Tickets to the events in the bullring during this time are at a premium, and if you want to go, you should reserve a spot well in advance.
There are still many other fiestas of Madrid Spain in other times of the year. August 15 sees the Feast of the Virgin of La Paloma, also a national holiday. November 9 marks the celebration of the female patron saint of Madrid, the Virgin of La Almudena. The Easter period lasts for a good 40 days. Even St. Patrick’s Day is an excuse to party. There are large pockets of ex patriots in Madrid, and a surprising number of traditional Irish pubs, some of which provide typical pub fare and some of which provide Spanish tapas. Be prepared to get your green on if you are dining at one of these places on St. Patrick’s Day. If you’ve come for concerts and performances by international artists and bands, try September. Other international events include the International Jazz Festival in November.