How to Celebrate Winter in Madrid

Lights in the Plaza de Chueca
Lights in the Plaza de Chueca

Is it your first winter in Madrid? Do you have the joy to step into her streets on a tangent of your European adventure? Madrid in December is like nothing I have seen before: a city overflowing with light and color and excitement. After following the brightly lit and decorated streets, entranced in their spell, here are some favorite Madrid winter traditions that I stumbled upon!

Churros stand near the Pista de Hielo
Churros stand near the Pista de Hielo

Ice Skating + Churros

In Madrid’s young, colorful district of Malasaña – one block off of Gran Vía – find Pista de Hielo in Plaza de Santa María de Soledad Torres Acosta (try saying that 5 times fast). Rent your skates for €5, lace up, and get out onto the ice! For a perfect date or outing with friends, latch onto one another and enjoy slipping and sliding across the rink and learning how to navigate the floor. When you’re ready to step out of your skates, head to the churros stand conveniently located next door for a hot cup of chocolate with perfectly fried churros. What better way to end a day in Madrid?

Christmas lights on Calle de Fuencarral
Christmas lights on Calle de Fuencarral

Christmas Trees + Christmas Markets

Madrid dresses and waits for Christmas as excitedly as a child, decorating each of its expansive plazas and long streets with panels of lights and trees. Of all the wonders of a Madrid Christmas make sure to find the gigantic, colorfully lit tree in the center of Puerta del Sol. The lights of this tree pierce the night, dancing through the square and reflecting from windows and passing taxis. Callao is home to a metallic, golden tree that fits in beautifully with its art deco style architecture. Last, be sure to take a trip to Plaza Mayor to find cute Christmas presents for your loved ones at the annual Christmas Market. Set up in red huts with welcoming vendors, this market reflects the popularity of Christmas markets across Europe (infamous in Germany and France) and offers items like Christmas figurines, ornaments, and gag gifts.

Christmas lights brighten a Madrid street
Christmas lights brighten a Madrid street

Shop till You Drop + See the Lights of Madrid + Eat Castañas

Take advantage of winter deals and escape from the chill in the air to wander in and out of the well-stocked stores on Gran Vía and Calle Fuencarral. Whether you are searching for that last taste of Spanish style before returning home, a gift for a loved one, or a scarf or sweater to battle the cold, be sure to hit your favorite stores before Christmas! Let your day stretch into the evening and watch as the vivid lights switch on as dusk covers Madrid. The lights stretch down the streets, incredible in their gaudy colors against the gradations of white and cream buildings. As you wander down the streets, take in the warm smell of roasting chestnuts – Castañas – and corn and sweet potatoes. Stop for a moment and buy a package of chestnuts, warm your hands and linger for a moment, then taste the richness of the nuts against the smell of warmth and winter.

Insider Tip: Spend Christmas Eve at Casa Puebla

Visit Casa Puebla on Christmas Eve to take part in a Madrid tradition. Bring along your friends and loved ones to join the community in having an appetizer and taking a drink to celebrate the coming of Christmas.

What are your favorite Madrid winter traditions? Let us know in the comments!

*This article was originally published by the author on the Set a foot blog.

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