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Madrid horse week takes place in November
Madrid horse week takes place in November | © Artcats / Pixabay
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15 Epic Reasons Why You Should Visit Madrid in 2018

Picture of Jessica Jones
Updated: 27 March 2018
There’s a lot going on in Madrid in 2018, from triathlons to theatre premieres, and from fiestas to music festivals. Read on to discover some of the best reasons to visit the Spanish capital in 2018.

See Gloriana

The Benjamin Britten opera Gloriana will have its Madrid premiere this year at the Royal Theatre (April 12–24). The opera, which depicts the final years of Queen Elizabeth I, will be directed by Ivor Bolton and produced in collaboration with the English National Opera.

Take part in the Madrid Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon

Runners are accompanied by bands at each stage of this popular marathon, which goes right through the heart of the city. Runners will pass by sights including the Santiago Bernabéu stadium (home of Real Madrid), the Royal Palace, the Prado Museum and Madrid Río park. A 10-kilometre (six-mile) run and a half marathon are held simultaneously, making April 22 a real celebration of running in Madrid.

Celebrate San Isidro

The Gigantes y Cabezudos (Giants and Big Heads) parade | © Chus Martín / Flickr

Between May 11 and 15, Madrid celebrates its patron saint, San Isidro Labrador, with concerts, shows, bullfights and plenty of free family-friendly activities around the city. One highlight is the Gigantes y Cabezudos (Giants and Big Heads) parade, during which gigantic papier-mâché figures are paraded through the streets.

See the Meninas Madrid Gallery

The most famous painting in the Prado Museum – Las Meninas (The Maids of Honour) by Diego Velázquez – will take to the streets of Madrid this year. Over 150 sculptures of the maids of honour will be placed in famous locations around the city. This street museum, the brainchild of artist Antonio Azzato, aims to portray the plural identity of the Spanish capital. Well-known and emerging artists, fashion designers and other creatives will all help to design the sculptures.

Watch the Mutua Madrid Open

See some of the world’s greatest tennis players in action from May 4 to 13 at the Madrid Open, held at the city’s Caja Mágica, a multi-purpose stadium designed by French architect, Dominique Perrault.

Take in some flamenco

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May in Madrid is all about flamenco | © 691806 / Pixabay

May in Madrid is dedicated to one of Spain’s most famous art forms: flamenco. Flamenco guitarists, dancers and singers aim to show a different side to the tradition, with innovative new performances as well as conferences and master classes.

Take part in the Pride celebrations

Rainbow flag at Madrid Pride
Rainbow flag at Madrid Pride | © Pedro Rufo / Shutterstock

Madrid’s LGBT Pride celebrations are some of the biggest in the world and are centred around the neighbourhood of Chueca. The festivities kick off with the annual stiletto race, in which drag queens speed down the street in a pair of towering heels, and culminate in a parade (July 7) that makes its way down the tree-lined Paseo del Prado. Don’t miss the nightly concerts held on stages around the city.

Visit the Monet/Boudin exhibition

The Thyssen-Bornemisza is hosting a fascinating exhibition on impressionist painter Claude Monet and his master Eugène Boudin (June 26 to September 30). The exhibition showcases around 100 works by the artists, and will show how Boudin’s early teaching affected Monet, and how, by the time Monet was an accomplished painter, Boudin had developed a keen respect for his former pupil, even adopting his style in several works.

Enjoy nights at the Botanical Garden

For the third year, Madrid is hosting a series of summer concerts in the beautiful surroundings of the Alfonso 13th Royal Botanical Garden. The schedule features a range of international names, from Elvis Costello and Kraftwerk to Rufus Wainwright, Phoenix and Norah Jones. The concerts run from June 21 to July 29.

Discover Disney

Disney, the Art of Storytelling will show at Madrid’s Caixa Forum | © Javier sastre / Flickr

Madrid’s Caixa Forum, a slightly under-the-radar museum close to the famous Prado, is well worth a visit for its always-interesting exhibitions and impressive building, complete with vertical garden. This year, it will host a show dedicated to all things Disney, going behind the scenes to see how the company developed some of its most famous characters and how it takes a story from the page to the screen.

Go to Mad Cool festival

From July 12 to 14, some of the world’s best rock and indie bands will land in Madrid for Mad Cool festival. Headliners this year include Pearl Jam, Arctic Monkeys, Jack White, Depeche Mode and Queens of the Stone Age.

Take part in the Challenge Madrid long-distance triathlon

Madrid’s ironman triathlon takes place in September | © hamperium / Pixabay

If you’re looking to get the blood pumping – and see a lot more of Madrid than the usual visitor – then why not sign up for this long-distance triathlon on September 23, which starts in the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains before making its way down into central Madrid. The 226-kilometre (140-mile) ironman course will include 3,800 metres (2.36 miles) of swimming, a 180-kilometre (112-mile) cycle and a 42-kilometre (26-mile) run. The finish line will be at Madrid’s famous Puerta del Sol.

See Madrid Horse Week

Madrid horse week takes place in November | © Artcats / Pixabay

From November 22 to 25, Madrid will host one of the biggest equestrian events in Spain: Madrid Horse Week. The week lets the public see horses in a variety of disciplines, from dressage competitions to jumping and vaulting. The family-friendly event will also include a pony park, where children can meet and learn all about ponies.

See Billy Elliot

While it might seem slightly incongruous that a musical about a miner’s son in the northeast of England is showing in Madrid, Billy Elliot has been a smash hit since it opened. Featuring music by Elton John, the musical is set in a pit town during the miners’ strike and follows Billy, who to his father’s dismay, prefers ballet to boxing.

Have fun at the August fiestas

Locals don traditional dress during Madrid’s summer fiestas | © Barcex / Flickr

Madrid has three big local fiestas in August, centred around the neighbourhoods of La Latina and Lavapiés. Bunting is hung across the streets, bars set up open-air stalls and locals wear traditional dress. It’s a fun time to visit the city, despite the soaring temperatures. The festivities start with San Cayetano festival (August 2 to 8) in the Rastro/Embajadores area, followed by San Lorenzo (August 9 to 11) in Lavapiés and La Paloma (August 12 to 15) in La Latina.

Love books? Check out this literary guide to Madrid.