One of the best things about living in a European city over the winter and festive period is the annual appearance of the Christmas markets. Madrid is no different, with market stalls popping up over the city from late November through to the New Year.
We are originally from Manchester, where the Christmas markets are huge, spreading across the city, attracting thousands of people, and offering plenty of food and drink to indulge in. You can imagine that when we realised there were Christmas markets in Madrid, our new home, we had some high expectations!
Different areas of the city offer different types of markets, including crafts, jewellery, antiques, festive food and drink. Check out our favourites in the list below. See which one takes your fancy, or better yet, why not make a day of it and check out all of them!
Plaza Mayor Christmas Market
Walking into Plaza Mayor, you will feel the Christmas spirit and atmosphere immediately. Close to 100 stalls line the square, with a large Christmas tree “of lights” in the centre. This is especially beautiful in the evening, when the tree is lit-up, along with many other Christmas lights and decorations adorning the balconies of the buildings around the plaza.
The Plaza Mayor Christmas Market is rumoured to be one of the oldest in the country, dating back to the 19th century – quite fitting considering this is one of the oldest and most historical parts of the city!
The Christmas market stalls at Plaza Mayor might leave you a little confused at first. You will walk in and find a mix of joke stalls selling scary masks alongside Christmas trees and decorations - from an outsiders perspective, an odd mix! However there is a good reason for this - the joke stalls are in line with Spains version of April Fools Day – Day of the Holy Innocents, taking place on December 28th. These little gifts make perfect stocking fillers and you will find lots of children running round throwing small pellets to the floor which make a loud snap.
The stalls here also specialise in Nativity figures, crafts, musical instruments and a variety of toys. This is because the Nativity scene is an important part of Christmas in Spain with many people creating their own scenes in their home and needing lots of ornaments and accessories to decorate.
Feria Dulces de Navidad
Our favourite part of any Christmas market has to be the festive food and drink. Luckily for us, there is an area of the Madrid Christmas markets where you can indulge on turrones (a nougat-style sweet treat), handmade artisanal chocolates, churros con chocolate, turkish delights, pastries, all varieties of cakes including the local tartas, and of course, mulled wine!
The Feria Dulces de Navidad can be found located in front of the Teatro Real, in Plaza de Opera, also known as Plaza Isabel II. This is one market we would definitely advise you not to miss!
We also recommend trying roasted chestnuts which are very popular here and will give you that warm Christmassy feeling! There is a stall in Plaza Isabel II near McDonalds.
Mercadillo del Gato
Unfortunately, no – this is not a market selling Christmas cats. How amazing would that be??! It is however a must-see market! Mercadillo del Gato runs year-round, based in the Westin Palace Hotel. However, especially for Christmas the market upscales and opens a second market.
The regular market is open from December 1st – 9th, and the second market, situated at Gran Via 13, is open from December 14th into the New Year. Naturally both markets embrace the festive theme, offering customers a unique choice of vintage jewellery, art pieces, crafts and even clothing.
And if you are not in a purchasing mood, still stop on by and check out their Nativity scene!
The Palace Hotel is one of Madrid’s most luxurious hotels, made famous by many Royals staying here during the World War. Christmas markets aside, the hotel is quite something to see itself!
These are the main Christmas markets in Madrid, however the regular weekend markets in places like Plaza Santa Domingo and Plaza Espana take on a more Christmassy feel during December so make sure to check these out to get yourself into the festive spirit!
We hope you enjoy these markets as much as we did. If you come across any others during your time in Madrid, be sure to let us know!
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