Every year, during the week of May 15th, the city of Madrid welcomes one of its most important and famous traditions: San Isidro Festival. During this long party (from May 10 to May 15, 2019), the madrileños, dressed in their typical costumes of chulapos, fill the streets of the capital dancing chotis in a colourful and fun event that spreads all around the city.
Why a San Isidro Festival?
The festivity of San Isidro Labrador, the saint patron of Madrid dates back to the 14th century. During the festival, people visit the hermitage of this saint and drink the water of the font which is considered to have miraculous properties. While the festivities nowadays incorporate many non-religious aspects, San Isidro festival is still very alike to the one which has been celebrated for the past five hundred years. If you've just moved to Madrid, San Isidro is the perfect occasion to discover Madrid’s old culture, to learn about their people, enjoy **parties, concerts, local food **and outdoor events.
Pic-Nic at the Pradera de San Isidro
Most festivities are held here, at the San Isidro prairie, the park where the hermitage of the saint is located. On May 15th, hundreds of people spend the day here with a traditional picnic with their families and friends.
More Food at San Isidro
Like any other true tradition, San Isidro also comes with a mix of delicious food. You can try the entresijos (lamb mesentery) or gallinejas (fried lamb intestines) which are traditionally served with lemonade. Hold on, this is not just your ordinary lemonade; the madrileños make it with wine, lemon, sugar and chopped fruit (usually apples). As a dessert, you should get some rosquillas - the typical San Isidro’s donuts - and choose between las tontas (with egg), las listas (with egg and coated with sugar icing), las de Santa Clara (with a layer of Meringue) and las francesas (with almonds). Buen provecho!
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Dance in the streets of Madrid
During the festivities, make sure to check out the traditional outfit and los Chulapos and Chalupas, which maintain the same Madrid traditions of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. You will spot them dancing ‘El chotis’, a dance originally from Bohemia (Germany) all around town. Get your camera ready!
Classical Concerts at Templo de Debod
The Templo de Debod is great at any time of the year and the day (especially at sunset), but during the San Isidro festival, it gives its best as it turns into an open-air music hall featuring classical music concerts with a 1200 years old Egyptian temple in the background. Not too bad, right?
Parties at the Jardines de las Vistillas
The Jardines de las Vistillas is a set of gardens close to La Latina district, where most off the concerts and nightlife take place. You can also find similar gigs in the Pradera, but Vistillas is more popular because is the starting point for the night in Madrid during the festivities.
Fireworks at Retiro Park
There are music events taking place at the Meadow, Las Vistillas and the Plaza Mayor. But once your preferred gig is over, head to the Retiro where at midnight the park fills the sky with colourful fireworks launched from the Alfonso XII monument.
You’ll find more information and the official programme of San Isidro festivities through the San Isidro Festival’s official website (in Spanish).
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