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Festival of San Isidro, Madrid, Spain

Listed under All Experiences in Madrid, Spain.

  • Giants in Puerta del Sol
  • Giants and Bigheads
  • There's a local story behind the figures
  • Drinks and snacks are easy to find in Madrid
  • Locals dress up for the festival
  • Traditional festival clothing - junior sizes
  • Madrid's Opera House hosts festival performances
  • Fireworks in El Retiro Park
Giants in Puerta del Sol
Giants in Puerta del Sol
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St Isidro is the patron saint of Madrid. He was canonised in 1623 and there was a religious procession in his honour. An eyewitness Sir Richard Wynn saw pageants, morris dancing, music and "other light things, far unfit to be mixed with anything that had a show of religion."
The festival has continued ever since. It starts on St Isidro's day, the 15th May, still with an amazing mix of "light things" and serious culture. It's a week of processions, music, theatre, opera, dance, art and all kinds of activities. In 2015 it included cycling and organic gardening workshops, puppet and street theatre shows from around the world, free concerts in the central Plaza Mayor, and fireworks in the El Retiro park near the Prado.
Madrid is a great city to visit anyway with some of the world's best art galleries and lots of friendly bars serving coffee and snacks for when you need a break from sight seeing. Visiting in San Isidro week is even better with all the events going on. Surprisingly in 2015 there was reasonably priced accommodation available in central Madrid for the festival week. It's very much a festival for the people of Madrid, who like to dress up in traditional costume, but increasing number of visitors come from abroad as well so maybe it's best to book in good time for this week.
There is a website for the festival currently showing info for 2015 but should be updated for 2016. Find dates on the Madrid tourism website. In 2015 there was an app for phone with the full event info, I guess this will appear for 2016 nearer the time.

Written by  Jenny Fowler.

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