Christmas is coming and, just like in many other cities around the world, the streets of Madrid deck out with lights, seasonal ornaments and especially appealing shop windows.
From the end of November on, thousands of locals and tourists overcome the cold weather and go out to stroll the most beautifully lit-up streets in the city (Gran Vía, Alcalá, Preciados, Cibeles Square…) and enjoy impressive decorations, such as the enormous Christmas tree in Puerta del Sol. But if you don’t feel like walking, you can get on the Naviluz, a theme sightseeing bus that tours the Christmas light displays in the most important places in the city and puts up a Christmas show on board.
If you like, you can also do some of your Christmas shopping here. Christmas markets are a must these days and one of the most popular ones is in Plaza Mayor. In addition, traditional shops and shopping centres are open longer, and if you are looking for luxury items to gift you should visit the ‘Golden Mile’. If you have come with children, the music shows in Cortylandia, next to El Corte Inglés of Preciados, will make the shopping day more bearable for the kids. And talking about shows, these days the varied cultural agenda of Madrid is completed with special circus, theatre and music events and artists performing in the pedestrian walkways of the city centre. And, of course, in the evening of January 5th there is a big parade to welcome the Three Wise Men, who will later leave some presents under our Christmas trees while we sleep.
For active citizens and visitors, the city also offers a number of special sport activities: you can, for instance, skate (or have fun just trying) on the ice rinks, run 5 km dressed in a Santa Claus outfit on December 9th or, if you are really fit, take part in the San Silvestre Vallecana race on December 31st. But if you prefer a less tiring plan to say goodbye to the old year, you can go to Puerta del Sol, where people gather to have 12 grapes as the clock strikes midnight.
And to restore your energy in this bustling festive atmosphere, there is nothing better than having a cup of hot chocolate with churros (fried-dough pastry) to warm you up in the traditional patisseries downtown or taste some delicious roscón de reyes (ring-shaped cake filled with cream and sprinkled with candied fruit). You can also take advantage of your visit to stock up on nougat, marzipan, shortbread and other Christmas treats to enjoy back in your apartment in Génova 5.