May 31, 2024

15 May in Madrid is Madrid’s Patron Saint Day, la Fiesta de San Isidro. It’s the day when Madrileños, both natives and transplants, show their pride and spirit for Madrid, Spain.

And they show their pride in many ways but the biggest way to celebrate is to organize a huge festival. During the weekend of San Isidro there is MUCH going on. Not only are there parades through downtown Madrid with music, dancing, older folks and children dressed as chulapos and chulapas (traditional Madrid costume), but there’s also a huge gathering at the Pradera de San Isidro, around the Ermita de San Isidro, located just across the Manzanares river from the Vicente Calderon Atletico de Madrid football stadium. In the Pradera there are concerts, stands selling las rosquillas del santo (a kind of pastry/cookie), food stands and terrazas, traditional dance displays, more costumes, a Catholic mass, and free distribution of the clear, cool spring water from below the Ermita which, it is said, has healing powers.

For other, more bloody entertainment, there’s the month long bullfight festival, the la Feria de San Isidro in the Corrida de Toros de Las Ventas Madrid. There, bullfights of varying levels take place nearly every day and tickets are at a premium, almost impossible to find as nearly every bullfight is totally sold out long before it takes place. And don’t be fooled, this is a festival FOR SPANIARDS. Why? Mainly because it’s a Madrid festival and many MANY Madrileños have “abonos” for the entire bullfight festival, renewing them year after year, sometimes for thousands of Euros – depending on the quality of the seat location. Also, attending a San Isidro bullfight is a kind of Status Symbol, to see and be seen as one of Madrid’s elite class since tickets are expensive and difficult to get. They go very well dressed in their best suits and dresses, made up and hair slicked back.

Not to be left out – and not specifically related to San Isidro – is the month long Suma Flamenca flamenco festival in Madrid of which I’ll attend my first flamenco performance on Monday and am looking forward to a dozen more flamenco performances during the festival.

After tomorrow, I’ll post some photos – and maybe some video – of the things I saw while at the Feria de San Isidro.

Read the website page for a detailed agenda on San Isidro activities (only in Spanish, sorry!). Read about the Ermita de San Isidro (only in Spanish, sorry!).

Also read all year’s accounts of the San Isidro Festival in Madrid with lots of information, insights, photos and videos:

San Isidro 2013, San Isidro 2012, San Isidro 2011, San Isidro 2010, San Isidro 2009, San Isidro 2008

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