What to do in Madrid during Christmas
If you find yourself thinking what is there to do in Madrid during Christmas time, this post has the answers. Let´s start with ice skating…
Open Air Ice Skating
The Matadero open air ice rink is the largest (more than 750 m2) of its kind in Madrid during this time of year. It’s located 2 minutes walk from Legazpi metro station.
Prices, Dates & Times
30 minute pass includes skate rental included = 5€
30 minute pass (from 2.30 p.m. to 4.30 p.m.) from December 20 to January 6 = 2.50€
5 Bonus pass includes skate rental = 20€ / 10 Bonus pass = 35€
Gloves = 1€
Palacio de Cibeles
Yet another year of ice skating at the beautiful Cibeles palace!
Prices, Dates & Times
20 December – 5 January, 11:00 – 21:00
24 & 31 December, 11:00 – 18:00
25 December & 1 January, 17:00 – 21:00
5 January 11:00 – 18:00 (Closing time depens on the Three Kings Parade) Admission: 6€ (which includes skate rental and the use of the rink for a half an hour and free entrance to the gallery).
Only You Hotel, Atocha
This Christmas the Only You hotel in Atocha (at their Inner Patio) is hosting the first ice skating rink inside a hotel in Madrid, from December the 23rd until January the 6th. Don´t forget to visit the Winter lounge while you are there to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and a pretzel.
To enjoy this experience, do not forget to book your free ticket here.
Javier Fernández (World Figure Skating Champion of 2015/16) presents Revolution On Ice Madrid on the 28th & 29th of December at 19:30. Apparently it will be the biggest ice skating show ever seen in Spain!
Gran Bola de Navidad (Big Christmas Ornament)
One of the great novelties this Holidays (2019-2020) will a spectacular 3D lit-up ball (Christmas ornament), 12 meters in diameter, seven tons and 43,000 LED lights at the fork between Alcalá and Gran Vía streets, in front of the Metropolis Building.
The lights of the sphere will be programmed and synchronized with sound to create a spectacular pixel maping effect
The giant ball will be there until the 6th of January 6 for all to enjoy.
Sueño de Navidad (Christmas Dream) – Videomapping
This event has passed already.
The Madrid City Council will be showcasing a spectacular three-dimensional Christmas video that will come alive before our eyes on the building of the Palacio de Cibeles on the 21st of December at 20:30 & 21:30 (each show will be 10 minutes long).
Madrid’s Royal Botanical Garden will glow with magical lights from the 19th of November to the 6th of January. The Christmas Garden project (which has been running in London for six years under the name Christmas at Kew) will fill the botanical garden with Christmas lights and figures that complement the beautiful and varied plant life. A 1.5km-long twinkling trail awaits children and adults of all ages.
The event is outdoors so I recommend you wrap up m because Madrid can get very chilly at this time of the year!
Naviluz Bus Madrid
After two years of living in Madrid, we finally booked tickets for the Naviluz bus on Christmas Day. This was the only day I could find tickets (I stalked their website a month before finally gettng the tickets). I can’t wait to see the beautiful Christmas lights of Madrid with my precious family by my side.
This year the Naviluz bus operates from November 29 to January 6 (except for December 24, 31 and January 5).
Departure is in Serrano Street and arrival in Plaza de Colón.
I´m going to be honest, Madrid is not quite there when it comes to Christmas markets. The Christmas market in Plaza Mayor is beautiful, but the items they sell are repetitive, it needs more variety. I have spoken to many people about this, expats and locals, and they all feel the same.
Italian Christmas Market
I visited the Italian Christmas market at the Italian Embassy at the end of November and loved the snow blower they had for effect. The arancini (stuffed rice balls which are coated with bread crumbs and then deep fried) they selled were delicious. Their was also tiramisu and vin brulè (mulled wine in Italian). Any guesses if I had? 😉
German Christmas Market
There is also a German Christmas market every year that runs for a weekend but it has become so popular and is quite small that people queue up around the block, so I´ve never been able to go in because I simply can´t justify waiting hours for a cup of gluewhein (mulled wine).
Plaza Santo Domingo
There is a smaller Christmas market in Plaza Santo Domingo (last year it was in Opera) where they sell mulled wine and Middle Eastern delecasies. The Baklava and Turkish delight are always favourites in our family.
Churros and Chocolate Caliente (hot chocolate)
Churros & Chocolates during the Holiday season in Spain is a must. The hot chocolate in Spain is thick and lucious.
San Gines is a bar that dates back to the late 19th century. Here you can enjoy a hot chocolate with churros, or any other drink and pastries. They stay open until the early morning hours too.
Traditionally it opens every day of the year and is situated close to Puerta del Sol.
The premises were built in 1890 to be an inn and a lodge, but in 1894 it became an establishment for the production of churros with the traditional technique called “a shoulder”.
Valor is a well known brand in Spain that have been manufacturing chocolate since 1881.
They have dedicated more than 130 years to making good quality chocolate. You can visit their Chocolate Museum to learn about where the cocoa they use comes from, and how their chocolate making process has evolved through the centuries.
You can also enjoy their products in one of their chocolate shops.
If you have ever visited Spain during Christmas, you would have seen turrón sold almost everywhere. Turrón is a southern European nougat confection, typically made of honey, sugar, and egg whites with toasted almonds or other nuts, and usually shaped into rectangular bars.
The guys at torronsvicens takes it to another level with their mojito or cheesecake flavours, not to mention the beautiful decor in their stores! Definitely worth a visit. Oh and I don´t forget to sample a few flavours while you are there.
Nativity Scene (Belén)
Palacio de Cibeles
The Nativity Scene in the Palacio de Cibeles is created by the unique figures by the Belenista master: José Luis Mayo Lebrija. More than 200 handmade pieces that stand out for their realism, both in their faces and attitudes and in the movement of their clothes.
Dates & Hours
29 November – 5 January from 10 – 20:00
24, 25, 31 December & 5 Juanuary 10 – 14:00
Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas
Warner Park Madrid
Warner Park is a great place to visit during this time of year, and one of the surprises for this year is the great Snowball. A dreamy Christmas scene in the form of a snowball where you can take a magical Christmas themed photo with your family.
The Opening show, joined by the Looney Tunes, takes place in the Hollywood boulevard area.
Meet Rudolf (a real reindeer) and the Toy Factory who has returned to spend Christmas with us in the frozen forest of Lapland.
Don´t leave without going through the Looney Tunes Animated Forest, a where the children can meet the elves, fairies and much more.
In the heart of the Old West Territory is where you´ll find Santa Claus and his toy workshop, waiting for all who want to make a wish.
At nightfall, the entire Warner Bros. factory, along with Santa Claus , take to the streets to celebrate Christmas with young and old. The Great Christmas Parade ends with the Looney Tunes and Batman dancing to popular Christmas hits.
Open to the public from the 11th of December until January the 7th, Parking ESIC hosts the first edition of Pozuelo Joy Christmas the largest Christmas park in the Northwest area.
Some of its main attractions are a ferris wheel that is 40 meters high with 32 cabins, a rollercoaster shaped in a V that is 50 meters high, And an ice rink of 300 square meters. The perfect place to meet Santa as well as the Three Kings, and enjoy hamburgers, hotdots, mexican food, etc at one of the foodtrucks.
Go Christmas Shopping
Las Rozas Village Outlet
Las Rozas Village always goes the extra mile with their Christmas decor and if you´re looking for some luxury items at a discount, this is the mall to shop at. Ted Baker and Burberry are my favourites.
There are many shoping malls in Madrid, but my favourite area to shop during the Christmas season is calle de serrano where you will find many luxury stores. A great time to hit them is during rebajas which happens twice a year, especially great right after Reyes Magos which is on the 6th of January.
Go on the teleférico (a cable car)
The Madrid cable car begins at Paseo del Pintor Rosales and ends at Casa de Campo.
Open daily from 11 – 18:00, 11:00 – 16:00 on Christmas Eve & New Years Eve, but closed for Christmas day.
Tickets can only be purchased at their premises.
Where to get Brunch in Madrid
I absolutely love brunch and thought I´d share a few of my favourite brunch spots in Madrid.
Flax & Kale (newly opened)
Ever heard of Roscon de Reyes?
It’s a sweet bread shaped like a crown, and normally filled with sweet cream and topped with dried fruit like the jewels on a kings crown, An traditionally consumed during this time of year.
Two different objects can be found in the cake: a black bean (or an haba) and something that represents the king. The person who eats the slice of cake with the king is the ‘king for the day’ whereas the person who gets the haba has to pay for the cake the following year.
I especially love the gourmet editions they sell at Mama Framboise like this gingerbread one below. How cute is it?!
Where can you find the Reyes Magos
Tren de Reyes Magos (The train of the Three Kings)
During this train journey, you can enjoy the landscape of Casa de Campo, Monte del Pilar and Pinar de las Rozas, as well as meet the Three Kings from the East: Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar, ready to listen to the wishes of the little ones. The on-board experience will also offer games, animation, face painting and workshops hosted by the elves.
This year (2019/2020) the train will run from December 21st to January 5th. Departures and arrivals will be at Príncipe Pío Station in Madrid. The journey will be for approx. 1 hour and 10 minutes. Tickets can be purchased online for a discounted price, prices range from 7.20 to 15€.
Go sledding in the snow
Cercedilla is a Spanish municipality located in the Sierra de Guadarrama, in the northwest of the Community of Madrid. It is 57 kilometers from Madrid centre but definitely worth the car or train ride (details below). During the colder months it often snows in this area and is simply a beautiful area to explore. Read more on my Instagram post below.
Take the C8 cercanías (train) from Atocha, Nuevos Ministerios or Chamartín directly to Cercedilla station.
Go see a show
Voted best Musical by the public at the Broadway World Awards and record weeks as No. 1 of the theatrical critic in the year of its premiere, BILLY ELLIOT offers its third successful season at the Nuevo Teatro Alcalá and announces its last Christmas in Madrid.
Tickets are priced from 24,90€ up to 99.90€, and the show lasts for 2 and a half hours with a break inbetween. Please note this show in in Spanish.
Since 2011 The Lion King has premiered at the Lope de Vega theater in Madrid with the largest musical production ever presented in Spain. Now in its 9th season, this musical has reach 5,000,000 spectators making this show a nationwide phenomenon, and has become a must for all who come to Madrid’s capital.
Tickets can be booked online, at the theatre itself or by telephone. Please note this show is in Spanish.
In the Coliseum theater, also in Gran Vía, Stage Entertainment Spain premiered the musical Anastasia in October 2018, making Madrid the first European city to host this production directly from Broadway. In its first season the musical has continued to receive 7 Musical Theater Awards, including the Best Musical.
Tickets can be purchased online, at the theatre or by telephone. Please note this show is in Spanish.
Where to stay in Madrid
I recently wrote a post about our time in Edinburgh during this magical time of year, you can read it here.