Madrid puts on a great show at Christmastime, with sparkly lights hung across every street, huge Christmas trees and busy festive markets. We take a look at the best Christmas markets to explore if you’re in the Spanish capital this December.
Madrid’s main traditional Christmas market is held on the city’s main square, Plaza Mayor, and has been going strong since the 19th century. Over 100 wooden stalls set up home on the plaza for the month of December, selling everything from nativity scenes to wigs and jokes for the Day of the Holy Innocents, Spain’s version of April Fool’s Day, which takes place on December 28. This beloved Christmas tradition sees people playing practical jokes on each other with items they have bought from the Christmas markets.
If you have a sweet tooth, don’t miss this one. The market, which is set up in front of the Teatro Real, Madrid’s opera house, sells only Christmas sweets. Favourites include turrón, a nougat-style block made from almonds that is popular at Christmastime in Spain.
Every year, Spain’s main department store, El Corte Inglés, installs a huge winter cabin on Plaza de Callo, a central square just off the Gran Vía shopping street. The festive cabin sells Christmas accessories, including baubles, tinsel and lights, and is a popular spot for locals and tourists to stock up on their Christmas decorations. The square is dominated by a gigantic Christmas tree that is the ideal backdrop for that festive selfie.
This artisanal market, on Madrid’s Plaza de España, draws craftspeople from across Spain, selling everything from leather goods and jewellery to ceramics and handcrafted toys. It’s a good place to shop for Christmas presents as it has a range of traditional Spanish products from different regions of the country.
This cool pop-up market is the place to come if you want to find something less bauble-related and more stylish. The stalls are populated by young, local designers selling everything from clothes and accessories to art, games and vintage homewares. The Christmas market will be held in the Westin Palace hotel from December 1 to 10 and at Gran Vía 13 from December 15 to January 5.
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While not exactly a Christmas market, we couldn’t leave Madrid’s biggest street market off the list. El Rastro is more than just a market; it is a weekly event, held every Sunday, when locals browse the stalls selling bric-a-brac, antiques, flamenco records and leather goods, then enjoy some tapas and beers in the little bars lining the market’s route.
The Design Market unites dozens of designers every month for a market held at the Matadero, Madrid’s former slaughterhouse that is now a thriving cultural space holding regular exhibitions and concerts. Past years have seen the market host a Christmas-themed event in the run-up to December 25, so keep an eye on its website for details of up-and-coming Christmas markets.
Slightly to the north of the centre of Madrid, in the Tetuan neighbourhood, Plaza La Remonta holds one of the biggest Christmas markets in the city, with stalls selling all the traditional fare, from Christmas decorations to toys and games for the kids. Don’t miss the ice rink, a great festive activity for all the family.
Just off the Puerta del Sol, right in the heart of Madrid, the Plaza de Jacinto Benavante holds an annual craft market. Over 20 huts, designed to emulate a medieval village, sell sweets, Christmas decorations and beautifully handcrafted accessories that make lovely souvenirs to take home from Spain.