Christmas in Madrid: a destination full of festive cheer and tradition

Now that the holiday season has arrived, it’s time to switch things up and celebrate in a brand-new location if you’re sick of the same old Christmas customs. And Madrid is the ideal travel destination to accomplish this dream! With a variety of festive events and customs that will put you in the holiday spirit, Christmas in Madrid Spain is a magical experience.

You will be fascinated by the glistening Christmas decorations that grace the city’s trees and buildings as you stroll through Madrid’s streets. As you stroll through the beautiful Christmas markets throughout the city, filled with one-of-a-kind items, regional crafts, and mouthwatering holiday snacks, the fragrance of roasted chestnuts and spicy mulled wine fills the air. Also, don’t miss the energetic parades and performances that are held throughout the city to showcase Madrid’s rich culture and Christmas customs.

But Christmas in Madrid isn’t only about the holiday décor and activities. It’s also a chance to embrace the local traditions and culture. Enjoy the mouthwatering roast lamb and seafood delicacies that are a mainstay of the holiday season as you experience the Spanish custom of Nochebuena or Christmas Eve. Or take part in the charming and cherished Catalan Christmas custom of caga tió (pooping log).

So why not enjoy Christmas this year in the joyous and energetic city of Madrid? You won’t be let down, trust us. Madrid has something for everyone over the Christmas season, from exquisite dining and shopping options to cultural attractions and festive celebrations. It’s the ideal setting for a classy “Feliz Navidad”!

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, The Travel Bunny will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thank you!

When does Spain celebrate Christmas?

Christmas is celebrated on 25 December in Spain, as it is in many other countries throughout the world. However, Christmas in Spain is traditionally celebrated a little differently. The Christmas season officially starts on 8 December, with the celebration of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a national holiday in Spain. A variety of additional public holidays and holiday-themed activities follow, all building up to Christmas Day on 25 December. Then, on 6 January, another national holiday in Spain, locals celebrate the Three Kings’ Day, which signals the end of the holiday season.

Traditions in Madrid during Christmas

You’ll have the chance to participate in some distinctive and joyous Christmas customs when you spend the holiday in Madrid. Nochebuena or Christmas Eve is one of Spain’s most significant customs. This is a time when friends, family, and loved ones gather in Madrid to celebrate by sharing a special dinner, usually consisting of roast lamb or seafood. People frequently attend midnight mass or take part in other religious activities after dinner.

But Madrid has more festive customs to offer. Numerous Madrid Christmas markets and fairs are held throughout the city during the holiday season. From distinctive presents and regional crafts to delectable sweets and festive beverages, these markets have it all. It’s the ideal location to pick up a gift for a particular someone or a memento of your trip to Madrid at Christmas time.

Don’t pass up the chance to take part in the Catalan custom of caga tió or “pooping log,” if you’re searching for something genuinely unique and unforgettable. This silly Christmas tradition includes singing while beating a wooden log with sticks until it “poops” out little candies and goodies. Although it might seem unusual, it’s a cherished custom that enhances the joyous mood of Madrid for Christmas.

As you can see, Madrid offers a wide variety of holiday customs to experience. So why not join in on the fun and add some Spanish flavor to your Christmas celebrations?

Places to see and things to do in Madrid at Christmas

The cultural attractions of Madrid come to life over the holidays with a variety of exhibitions, concerts, and plays that are sure to delight and inspire you.

The famous Madrid Christmas decorations represent one of the most notable aspects of the holiday season. You’ll be enchanted as you stroll the streets by the glittering lights that adorn the trees and buildings, evoking a merry and festive mood in Madrid in winter. But you won’t only be impressed by the lights: you’ll also be wowed by the holiday-themed exhibits and performances that fill the city’s museums and music venues. There is something for everyone to enjoy, from plays to concerts.

christmas market in madrid
Christmas market Madrid

Christmas markets in Madrid

If you’re wondering what to do in Madrid in December, I recommend you visit one of Madrid’s seasonal markets or fairs while you celebrate Christmas there. The Spanish people are not the types to spend their days inside: they’d rather be outside, and for good reason: many plazas and street corners become cozy Christmas markets. These markets are a cherished tradition in Madrid and provide an opportunity to have a taste of the cuisine, learn about the culture, and buy special and traditional presents.

Mercado de Navidad at Plaza Mayor is one of the biggest and busiest marketplaces. This market located in the Old City has been a mainstay since the 15th century. Here, you will discover a variety of regional foods, handmade goods, and traditional crafts, all with the stunning Plaza Mayor as a background.

However, Mercado de Navidad is only the start. Navidad en Oriente in Plaza Opera, Fiera Mercado de Artisania in Plaza de Espana, and the Medieval Christmas Market in Plaza Jacinto Benavente are other markets to check out while spending Christmas in Madrid. Each of these markets provides a distinct and joyous ambiance along with a wide variety of foods, presents, and entertainment options.

So make sure you include a trip to a Christmas market in your Madrid winter travel plans. You’ll no doubt find something unique and priceless to bring home with you. Just be sure to double-check each market’s precise operating hours because Christmas markets Spain typically open at midday and close at about 9:00 p.m.

christmas lights in madrid
Christmas lights Madrid

Christmas lights

Madrid’s Christmas light show transforms the city around Christmas into a wintry paradise. Beginning in late November, Madrid’s streets, buildings, and squares are covered in brilliant sparkling lights, creating a wonderfully magnificent scene. Each year, renowned designers, architects, and graphic artists collaborate to produce brand-new, magnificent light shows that are a must-see for both tourists and residents.

You will be astounded by the inventiveness and craftsmanship of the light displays as you stroll through Madrid’s streets. Every nook of the city is lit up in a spectacular show of holiday happiness, from extravagant displays that decorate the city’s major buildings and monuments to glittering lights that line the streets and parks. The greatest thing, though? You will have plenty of time to admire these lights in Madrid between Christmas and New Year, and even far into the new year.

Gran Via, Puerta del Sol, and Paseo de la Castellana are a few of the greatest locations to view the lights. Additionally, the Calle Goya and Calle Ortega y Gasset streets in the Barrio Salamanca neighborhood are very vibrant in Madrid during winter.

I also recommend a walk to discover the Retiro Park Christmas lights. Twinkling lights illuminate the trees and landscaping, transforming the park into a winter wonderland. Both locals and travelers like taking a stroll here to enjoy the festive ambiance.

But Madrid’s Christmas decorations provide more than simply a pretty sight. Families and friends wander across the city and take in the festive mood as they serve as a gathering point for the city’s residents and tourists. There’s always something to do and see with all the festive events and activities that are held across the city throughout the holiday season. So, just jump into the festive mood while you’re celebrating Christmas in Madrid and be ready to take so many pictures along the way: your Instagram feed will thank you!

Holiday concerts and performances

Check out the Christmas concerts and shows that are held in the city’s museums and music halls as you spend Christmas Madrid. These occasions provide an opportunity to explore Madrid’s diverse culture and artistic ability as well as a fun and enjoyable way to mark the Christmas season.

The National Music Auditorium, which presents a range of holiday-themed concerts and performances by renowned performers, is one of the best places to check out. Another well-liked option is the Teatro Real, or Royal Theater, which features a schedule of holiday operas, ballets, and other events. And don’t pass up the chance to go to a holiday concert at a renowned museum in Madrid, like the Prado Museum or the Reina Sofía Museum.

Your Christmas schedule should include a concert or show. It’s the ideal approach to give your Christmas celebrations in Madrid a touch of culture and class. You’ll undoubtedly go home inspired and entertained.

Madrid Christmas time exhibitions and displays

You won’t want to miss the festive exhibits and decorations at the city’s art museums if you’re in Madrid during the Christmas season. One of the attractions is the Prado Museum’s yearly winter exhibit, which includes a detailed nativity scene and a variety of holiday-themed artworks. The museum is decked out in glistening lights and seasonal accents, making it the ideal location to spread holiday cheer.

There is a ton of festive happiness at the Reina Sofía Museum as well. The museum is well-known for its unique exhibits, and during the holidays, you can view one that showcases traditional Christmas customs from throughout the globe. The museum is also decorated for the holidays, which heightens the festive mood.

Additionally, you can see a variety of holiday-themed artworks at the Thyssen-Bornemisza, from traditional paintings to cutting-edge installations. Everywhere you look, the museum is turned into a winter paradise with glistening lights and festive accents.

You can undoubtedly discover something to get you in the festive mood at whatever museum you visit. So be sure to swing by one of these festive installations and displays if you’re looking for things to do in Madrid Christmas!

Three Kings Parade

When you spend Xmas in Madrid, don’t pass up the chance to take part in one of Madrid’s most cherished Christmas traditions: the Three Kings Parade. Following New Year’s Eve on 5 January, this magnificent festival, also known as La Cabalgata de Los Reyes Magos, keeps the festive atmosphere alive in Madrid.

The Three Kings — Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthazar — march through the masses carrying gifts for everyone as the parade passes camels, carriages, shepherds, and townsfolk. The procession begins at 6:00 p.m. on Avenida de la Castellana and travels through the streets of the city for more than two hours before coming to a finish at Plaza de Espana.

Join the Three Kings Parade Madrid 2023 and take part in the festivities by providing a warm welcome to the Kings as they walk through the city. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to have an outstanding experience. And who knows, maybe the Three Kings will give you a unique present as well!

The festive dining experiences in Madrid

Madrid’s holiday eating experiences are not to be missed! Restaurants and pubs in the city provide unique Christmas menus with typical Spanish delicacies over the holiday season. A typical meal at many Christmas feasts in Spain is roast lamb. Seafood, such as lobster or shrimp, is another preferred alternative. It’s frequently offered as an appetizer.

You may expect to see a range of customary holiday sweets on the menu in addition to these main dishes. Turrón, a sort of nougat made with almonds and honey, is one such traditional dish. It is a cherished Spanish dessert that is served at many holiday celebrations.

Here are my top 5 recommendations for restaurants in Madrid to consider for your Christmas meal:

  1. La Terraza del Casino, an upscale restaurant in the center of Madrid, presents a unique Christmas menu that includes both regional specialties from other countries and classic Spanish dishes. Additionally, the restaurant offers breathtaking city views.
  2. La Taberna de Sanlúcar. This little restaurant in the Chamber area is renowned for its seafood specialties, making it a fantastic option for a Christmas supper. Holiday celebrations are made especially enjoyable by the comfortable and festive ambiance of the restaurant.
  3. Casa Lucio. This family-run eatery is a landmark in Madrid and is situated in the famed La Latina district. It’s a fantastic option for a joyous Christmas meal and is well-known for its traditional Spanish dishes.
  4. Santceloni. This two-Michelin-star restaurant is a great option for a memorable Christmas supper and is housed in the opulent Hotel Hesperia. With a focus on contemporary Spanish cuisine, this Madrid restaurant provides a high-end dining experience.
  5. El Club Allard, a hip restaurant with a unique Christmas menu that includes a range of foreign dishes, is situated in the exclusive Chamber district. This restaurant in Madrid is a terrific option for a merry holiday lunch because of its stylish setting and delectable cuisine.

However, Madrid’s restaurants and bars are just the beginning of the city’s festive eating opportunities. At the city’s Christmas markets, you can also get food and drinks with festive themes. These markets, which appear periodically across the city, are a terrific place to get something to eat while you buy presents and seasonal accents. There are many different sweets available, including hot chocolate, mulled wine, and holiday-themed pastries and candies.

Shopping in Madrid at Christmas time

There are several Madrid Christmas shopping possibilities! There’s something for everyone in the city, from Christmas markets and festivals to seasonal sales and discounts at the stores and malls.

The Christmas markets and fairs in Madrid are among the highlights of holiday shopping. A broad variety of distinctive and conventional presents are available at these markets and fairs, which are spread out around the city. You have a broad range of items to pick from, including festive decorations, locally created goods, handcrafted crafts, and souvenirs with seasonal themes.

You’ll be pleased to know that many of the city’s merchants offer seasonal bargains and discounts even if you like to shop at more conventional stores and malls. You may get great deals on anything from home products and technology to designer apparel and accessories.

But there are still more holiday shopping chances in Madrid. Additionally, the city is filled with unique gifts and souvenirs with Christmas themes. There are many items to pick from, including holiday-themed chocolates and delicacies as well as spectacular gift baskets.

Where to stay in Madrid during Christmas

Keep in mind that all the hotels and restaurants sell out pretty quickly, so make sure you book in advance. If you still haven’t found your place to stay for Christmas in Madrid, here’s your answer: Radisson Blu Hotel, Madrid Prado. The hotel is in the El Barrio de las Letras district, just a few minutes from top attractions such as the Prado Museum, the Thyssen and Reina Sofía Museums, and Retiro Park. This boutique hotel will guarantee a stylish retreat in the heart of the Spanish capital. The central location of this hotel makes it a great starting point for exploring the city while you celebrate Christmas in Madrid.

Find the joy of Christmas in Madrid, a festive destination for all

In conclusion, Madrid is a fantastic place to spend Christmas in Spain because of its extensive cultural traditions, lovely holiday decorations, and a wide variety of festive events and activities. There is plenty for everyone to enjoy in this picturesque city, from the shimmering lights and lively markets of Plaza Mayor to the excellent Christmas foods and beverages available at every turn.

Madrid has it all, whether you want to go ice skating in the park, attend a traditional Spanish Christmas mass, or just enjoy the holiday cheer while sipping a warm cup of cocoa. So why wait? Discover the wonder of Christmas in Madrid for yourself and make lifelong memories!

About the author

giulia lopez guest post writer on the travel bunny

Giulia Lopez is 29, a coffee lover, language enthusiast, and amateur musician. But most of all, she is a travel addict. Discovering new countries and new cultures has always been her true passion, and lucky for her it all became part of my everyday life. Now collaborating with several travel agencies, travel blogs, and tour operators across the world.

You too can become a guest blogger on The Travel Bunny. Just submit a free guest post.

Other articles you’ll enjoy on The Travel Bunny travel blog
What to visit in Madrid in 2 days: the essentials
Christmas customs and traditions in Europe
10 of the most romantic hotels in the world