As the holiday season approached, I expected to have some major fomo. Being from New York, I was pretty confident that I was going to be missing out on all the holiday festivities I was used to. No snow covered streets, no Rockefeller Christmas Tree, no Santas roaming the metro, no bright lights above. As mid December, hit I was more than happy to be wrong. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, Madrid has some really fun activities to offer during the holiday season and is an exciting place to be. Here were some of my favorites:
Lantern Festival: To celebrate winter solstice on December 21st, hundreds of lanterns and small lights were let out on to the Madrid River. Thousands of tourists and locals came to watch both the light festival and the fireworks that followed. My friends and I definitely had a blast enjoying the lights and taking in the cultural event.
La Carrera de Papa Noel: On December 10th, six of my friends and I woke up at 7 am and ran a 5k through the center of Madrid dressed in Santa Claus outfits along with about 10,000 other people. Need I say more?
Plaza Mayor Christmas market: The famous square is packed out with small stalls selling all sorts of Christmas related items. It’s the perfect spot to buy holiday gifts, or even just to walk around with friends.
Plaza de España arts & crafts market: Plaza de España has a large tent set up every year that’s filled with all kinds of unique hand made items. You can find art, quirky clothes, jewelry, toys and tons of other one of kind stuff. This is also a cool place for gifts, but be careful because it does get a bit pricy.
Food: The holiday season wouldn’t be what it is without all the good food and careless consumption. Some of my favorite seasonal foods in Madrid are the street side roasted hazelnuts, turron and mantecados.
Lights: It’s hard to walk around in Madrid after November without seeing festive lights. All across the city, beautiful light arrangements decorate buildings and roads. Walking through Sol and seeing the tree are obvious must dos, but you can also find some great lights without the large crowds in Chueca and on Gran Via.
Navibus: If you want to catch a glimpse of all the lights, you can ride the Navibus, a bus that drives through Madrid at night and is a ton of fun. Go with a lot of friends and have a blast on the top deck or with a few and meet some new people; it’s a very social atmosphere.
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<p>Industrial Engineering major from Penn State with minimal Spanish skills, finding my way through Madrid. I love to read, write, eat, and take pictures.</p>