Annual Festivals, Fairs & Exhibitions in Madrid
Madrid International Contemporary Art Fair (ARCO) - February
- This important date in the European art calendar is usually staged at the Juan Carlos Exhibition Centre
Madrid Carnival - end February to start of Lent (2007)
- Revived in 1976 after being quashed for 40 years under Franco's regime, 'Carnaval' centres around venues like the Casino and the Circulo de Bellas Artes. The main event is a huge parade along the Paseo de la Castellana plus fancy dress competitions and an evening concert in the Plaza Mayor. The end of Carnaval on Ash Wednesday is signalled by the Entierro de la Sardina (Burial of the Sardine) parade, with participants dressed in black carrying a cardboard sardine in a coffin which is theatrically buried at the Fuente de los Pajaritos, marking the beginning of fasting and reflection associated with Lent.
Fiestas del 2 de Mayo - May 2nd
- This is a celebration marking the start of the revolt against Napoleon's French invasion on the 2nd May 1808. The fun starts on 1st May which is a national holiday so Madrilenos get two consecutive public holidays and there are usually a variety of open-air concerts and other other public events.
Fiestas de San Isidro - May 15th
- One of the biggest fairs in the Madrid calendar this city-wide festival is in honour of the patron saint of Madrid. During the day attention is focused on the Ermita de San Isidro (San Isidro Hermitage), where people go to drink the water from the spring (for its healing powers - like Lourdes) and then get completely stuffed with lots of lovely food. In the evening there will be a big concert in La Latina and Vistillas and each barrio (nieghbourhood) will set-up its own celebrations as well. The most important bullfights also occur during this holiday.
Hogueras de San Juan (St. John's Day) - June 23rd / 24th
- Various neighbourhoods in the city will hold their own celebrations for the night of the 23rd in honour of St. John, usually involving fireworks and wine, but one of the biggest can always be found down at Plaza de San Juan.
Dia del Orgullo Gay (Gay Pride Day) - Last Weekend in June
- One of the biggest 'gay pride' events in Europe (probably second largest after Berlin) this event is focused on the Chueca zone in the historic centre.
Madrid International Fashion Week - September
- The IFEMA organisation stages a number of fashion exhibitions each year, the most important of which is the Pasarela Cibeles, the grand promotional forum for Spanish fashion. In addition there is the Ego de Pasarela Cibeles featuring the up-and-coming local young designers, International Leather Week and TEXTILMODA - the Textile Fashion Show.
Feria de Otoño del Libro Viejo y Antiguo - October
- A book festival that has been running since 1984 it's now hosted at Paseo de Recoletos for two weeks every year.
Almudena Day - November 9th
- The Virgin Almudena is Madrid's patron saint so this is a holiday exclusive to the city.