Alice in Wonderland (dressed by Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada)

From the 27th December to the 8th January, 2006 the Centro Cultural de la Villa (beware! painfully bad website) will be putting on the play Alice in Wonderland (Alicia en el País de las Maravillas). The work is an adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s book, full of verse and song, and featuring probably the most colourful collection of clothes ever put together for any work of Alice in Wonderland. The clothes have all been designed by top, Spanish fashion designer Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada, which should mean that it will be a very colourful experience.

Opening Times:Tuesday – Sunday: 12pm, 5 pm and 7.30pm

Price: 8-10 Euros

Location: Centro Cultural de la Villa (Jardines del descubrimento s/n.)

: Colón or Serrano

Blogs and Beers December Meet Up

I know it’s short notice but if anyone is interested in blogs, there is a meet-up tonight of Blogs and Beers Madrid, where people meet up and .. you guessed it! In future, it may be worth bookmarking their page and checking periodically – don’t expect events like this to be posted in advance (from experience things don’t seem to happen like that in Spain). You may want to take a look at some photos from a Blogs and Beers Madrid event on Flickr.

Time/Date: 8 p.m |December 21st, 2005
Place: El Brasileirinho

Location: Plaza de Cristino Martos, 2 (map)

Thanks to Fernando (of abladías)for letting me know.

Children the Central Focus of Christmas in Madrid

If you’re looking for activities to keep the kids occupied this Christmas, the City Council of Madrid has pretty much covered all bases. Aside from the numerous events that will be going on for children, they have made sure that some of the city’s locations/centres will purely cater for kids. The Patio Central and the Patio del Norte of Conde Duque will put on theatre, music and workshops – the funds they get from putting these on will go towards a Foundation which helps out children in hospital.

The Plaza de Colón will be converted into a children’s factory where children will be able to visit the three wise men (don’t forget children’s toys are traditionally given on the 6th January by these men from the East!); go on toboggan rides and carousels; see children’s plays; see toys from the ‘old days’ and go on a train ride.

If you’re around on the 5th January, you can see the huge procession of the Three Wise Men (Cabalgata de Reyes) which will go around the main streets of Madrid: Puerta de Alcalá, Cibeles square, calle Alcalá, Puerta del Sol, and Calle Mayor before finishing in the Plaza Mayor.

One further must do thing at Christmas is to visit ‘Cortylandia’ in the department store of El Corte Inglés in the Puerta del Sol. Every year they put on a show on the outside facade of the store which youngsters always love – the theme is often to do with a latest blockbuster film, like the Lion King. This year, I think it is related to the Little Mermaid.  Afterwards, why not head of to the Chocolatería San Ginés for some chocolate con churros.

Technorati Tags: Madrid

Rolling Stones Tickets for Madrid Concert Go on Sale

Tomorrow, 16th November 2005, tickets will go on sale for both the Rolling Stones‘ Madrid and Barcelona concerts. The group will play the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona (Olímpico de Barcelona) on the 27th May and the Vicente Calderón Stadium in Madrid on the 29th May, 2006. The Bigger Bang Tour will be an extension of the Rolling Stones tour which started in August, 2005 in the USA. Tickets for both the Madrid and Barcelona concerts can be bought from Servicaixa Halcón Viajes travel shops, El Corte Inglés and through the web or telephone.

Related site: Rolling Stones

Technorati Tags: Rolling Stones

Madrid Opens Ice Rink for Christmas

This year the Madrid City Council will be moving the Christmas Ice Rink away from the centre of the city to the heart of Madrid’s business district. The idea is to try and spread the Christmas events over an even greater area – there will also be a children’s ‘fun factory’ (factoría  de ocio) in the Plaza de Colón.

The ice rink will be located at the foot of Torre Picasso and will open on the 22nd December and run until the 8th January. It opens at 10 in the morning and closes at 9 p.m. Torre Picasso was, until recently, the tallest building in Spain and is the home for many multinational companies. Nearby, you will also find the largest belén (nativity scene) in Europe, which is made up of 1,200 pieces and covers an extensive area. You will find that the large department store El Corte Inglés is located near there, as is Habitat, and the shopping centre Moda. There are also a number of shops in Orense street.

Santiago Bernabeu or Nuevos Ministerios

Christmas Lights around Madrid

This year the Christmas lights were lit on the 26th November – probably the earliest that they have ever been lit. This year the city council have opted for 2.5 million bulbs – 500,000 more than last year. The areas of Gran Vía, Alcalá and Recoletos will have a snow theme, Puerta de Alcalá and Cibeles, "tongues of fire"; Mayor, a ceiling of light; Chueca, Confetti, and Colón, illuminated water.

The Palacio de Comunicaciones will be specially lit up for the Christmas period (20th December-7th January) and Nativity scenes wil light up the outside walls, from the 21st to 29th December, of the following religious buildings:

Parroquia de la Virgen de la Paloma y San Pedro el Real
Pza. de la Virgen de la Paloma
Basílica de San Francisco el Grande
Pza. de San Francisco
Real iglesia de San Andrés
Pza. de los carros
Basílica Pontifica de San Miguel
c/ San Justo, 4
Iglesia catedral de las Fuerzas Armadas
c/ Sacramento, 11
Iglesia de San Nicolás de Bari de los Servitas
Pza. de San Nicolás
Parroquia de Santiago y San Juan Bautista
Pza. de Santiago, s/n
Real Monasterio de la Encarnación
Pza. de la Encarnación, 1

Related Articles
Christmas Nativity Scenes and Markets in Madrid

Madrid Virtual


Here’s an article, entitled 360° Virtual Tours of Madrid, that I wrote last year but which many new visitors might find of interest. It talks about a Madrid-based website which displays great, virtual 360° panoramas of some of Madrid’s most famous landmarks, such as the Royal Palace, the Plaza Mayor and the Reina Sofia Museum. The website is called Madrid Virtual  and it is run by Carolina Borgesi and her husband Germán González Garrido. 

Travel Telegraph Guide to Madrid

In a bid to offer visitors to this blg as balanced and informed a view of Madrid as possible, I have inlcuded below some links to articles on madrid from another newspaper, The Daily Telegraph. For those who are unfamilar with this newspaper, it is generally aimed at the more affluent, conservative-voting public.

My kind of town

Annie Bennett believes that the Madrid food markets, though baffling at first, are worth mastering.
26 Oct 2005

Madrid: Art in action

Simon Horsford combines a visit to watch Real Madrid with a tour of the Spanish capital’s top galleries.
28 Feb 2005

Madrid: A fight to keep  the tradition alive

Paul Mansfield warms to Madrid’s ancient themes.
09 Oct 2004

Madrid: Art and soul

As the summer heat cools and the terrorist attacks of last March recede, now is the time to visit the Spanish capital, reports Annie Bennett.
09 Oct 2004

Madrid: New ideas for old hands

Real Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales
The most impressive of Madrid’s convents – although, like the others,
it is now woefully short of nuns. It was built originally as a palace
but converted into a convent in 1556, when Philip II’s widowed sister
decided to become a nun. Although the exterior is austere, the interior
is a lavish baroque treasure-house of paintings, sculptures and
19 Jun 2004

Madrid: Big break

At the end of the day, Madrileños know how to have a good time. John Graham-Hart tells you where to go to join them.
19 Jun 2004

Madrid: All the essential stops for first-timers

El Prado One of the world’s great museums and the capital’s
top cultural attraction. The core of the Prado is the Spanish Royal
collection with its magnificent range of works by Velázquez, Goya and
El Greco. There is a wealth, too, of Italian Renaissance masterpieces
by Botticelli, Caravaggio, Rafael and Titian, plus the greatest
collection anywhere of work by Hieronymus Bosch.
19 Jun 2004

Madrid: City basics

Getting there
John Graham-Hart
travelled with Iberia Airlines, which
offers direct flights to Madrid from Heathrow and Manchester from £90
return. A taxi from the airport to the city centre will cost about €20.
19 Jun 2004

Madrid: Smart jacket required

Discouraged by the price and quality of leather for sale in the UK this season, Annie Bennett widened her search to Madrid
22 Dec 2003

Madrid: How to visit the Prado museum

Nick Trend suggests the best way to see hundreds of Old Masters in Madrid – unimpeded by crowds and for just a couple of pounds
08 Nov 2003


Christmas Nativity Scenes and Markets in Madrid

This year quite an extensive programme of Christmas activities has been organised by Madrid’s City Council. I will break the information down into various articles over the next couple of days.
Christmas Market in the Plaza Mayor – the main Christmas market in the city and a place where you will find all things related to Christmas, from trees and tinsel to nativity scenes and christmas trees.  It runs up until the 31st December. And don’t forget to look out for the wonderful Christmas lights that adorn the Plaza.

Madrid offers a wonderful selection of ‘Belénes’ or nativity scenes which you will find in museums and churches across the whole city at Christmas time – they really are quite spectacular. Here are a selection of some of the most popular ones:

Municipal Museum
Plaza de la Villa
Created by José Mayo (this will be his third year) it occupies an area of 70 square metres and includes Herod’s Palace and a Hebrew mill.
Open from 7th Dec – 6th Jan: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; 24th and 31st Dec and 1st Jan: 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Madrid City Council
Napolitan Nativity Scene
Tues-Fri: 9.30 a.m – 8 p.m
Sat, Sun and 24th and 31st December: 10 a.m – 2 p.m.

Royal Palace
Naptolitan Figures from the 18th Century
13th Dec – 8th Jan. Mon-Sat: 9.30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sundays and Fiestas
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Address: c/ Fuencarral, 78

Other highlights include:

Almudena Cathedral
Designed by Father Félix Castedo
25th December – 22nd January
9 a.m. – 10.30 p.m. 
Address: c/ Bailén, 10

Basílica de San Francisco Grande
24th December – 7th January
Mon, 8 – 11 a.m
Tues – Sun 8 a.m. – 12.30 p.m
& 4 – 6.30 p.m.
Plaza de San Francisco

Real Iglesia de San Ginés
Barroque Nativity Scene
17th and 18th Century figures Designed by
Cayetano Ramírez
and Bernardo Toribio
24th Dec – 8th Jan
9 a.m – 1 p.m. and 6 p.m – 9 p.m.

Real Iglesia de San Andrés
Neapolitan Nativity Scene in Ivory from 18th Century
1st Dec – 18th Jan
Address: Plaza de San Andrés, 1

Real Monasterio de la Encarnación 
Nativity Scenes from the 19th century and the Madrid School
13th Dec – 8th Jan
Tues, Wed, Thurs and Sat: 10.30 a.m. – 12.30 a.m & 4 – 5.30 p.m.; Fri: 10.30a.m – 12.30 p.m.; Sun: 11.30 a.m – 1.30 p.m.; Mon closed

Las Niñas Debut New Album Savia Negra


Just a quick post. If you’re looking for something to do tonight (30th November,2005), you may want to head off to a concert arranged to show solidarity to victims of AIDS. The main group playing will be Las Niñas, a trio from Seville who will be performing songs from their latest album, Savia Negra, for the first time in Madrid. Tickets are only 6 Euros.

Venue: Sala Copérnico
Date& Time: 30th November, 2005 | 8.30pm
Address: C/ Fernández de los Ríos, 67
Tel: 91 559 59 22

Metro: Moncloa (L3 y L6)

Tickets on Sale: Box Office, FNAC and

History of Photography in Spain at the Círculo de Bellas Artes

Seminaristas_1From the 17th November until the 8th January, the Círculo de Bellas Artes will be holding a fascinating exhibition which charts the history of photography in Spain from 1839 until the 21st Century. It consists of 400 photographs, collected from over 100 national and international archives, which attempt to show the social and technological developments of the country over this period.

The Círculo de Bellas Ares has dedicated 4 rooms to the exhibition, each focusing on different periods: Sala Minerva, from the start of the Carlist wars (19th century); the Sala Goya, from the start of the 20th century up to the beginning of the Civil war; Sala Picasso, from the start of the Dictatorship until Democracy and the Sala Juana Mordó which displays a selection of photos from the earliest cameras to the latest digital cameras – over 30 of these early cameras will be on view.

If you decide to go, can I suggest that you have a cup of coffee in the beautiful Salón La Pecera.

Opening Times

Tues-Sat: 5pm-9pm
Sat and Sun: 11am-2pm
Entry Price
1 Euro

Snow Falls on Madrid Mountains


Last week some pretty heavy snow fell on the mountains surrounding Madrid, though I am not sure whether enough fell for the ski resorts to open. For those who don’t know you can actually go skiing in the mountains surrounding Madrid – the ski resorts are under an hour from the city centre. Last year was pretty good for Madrid’s skiers as some great snow fell.

To find out more about Skiing in Madrid’s Mountains: Navacerrada, Valdesqui, La Pinilla and Cotos, check out these sites:
Nevasport Forums
Valdesqui (Very poor website)
La Pinilla Ski Station
Xanadu (Massive Indoor Ski Centre)

Thanks to my brother-in-law Vicen for this.

My Madrid: Susana Bourne

Susana_bourne_2Susana is a British subject who was born and brought up in Madrid. She speaks Spanish, English and French. After achieving a BA (Hons) degree she worked for a software company in Spain, and then spent six years working for a major engineering consultancy in the UK, which allowed her to travel. Susana returned to Madrid and is working in the international human resource environment. Susana also assists Fran with organising the International Evening in the Café Madrid on Wednesdays.

Favourite Bar/Café – El Café del Arte (Castelló esq. Alcalá)         

Favourite Dish – Paella

Favourite Tapas – Pulpo a la Gallega (Octopus Galician style) amongst many others
Favourite Restaurant – Maceiras (c/ Huertas, 66)

Favourite ShopEl Corte Inglés. You can find everything you need here

Best time of year in Madrid – Spring

Favourite Barrio –  Opera, around Sol, perfect place to walk, go shopping or have a drink or snack and go out in the evenings

Favourite Building(s)Royal Palace.

My favourite day trip from Madrid is toEl Escorial, (situated about 50km from Madrid) not only can you walk around the town but the surrounding areas have also a lot to offer.

A perfect ‘night out’ in Madrid would … be to have dinner at Shangai Café, have a drink at any place around the Castellana, go dancing to Bisú (Jose Abascal, 8)

My favourite walk …  Summer time around El Retiro. In winter I enjoy walking around the Plaza Mayor and the old Madrid of the Austrias.

Indepedent’s Guide to Madrid

The week before last the Independent Newspaper (UK) had a very interesting supplement on Madrid, which you can now view online. Here is a summary of the various sections:

  • 24 Hours In: Madrid – The travel writer Simon Calder kicks off the day in Puerta del Sol, heads off to the Plaza Mayor and then gets over to the Bernabeu Stadium. In the evening he samples Jazz at the Café Central.
  • Madrid: A world-class exhibitionist – Cathy Packe takes a look at the works of art on display in the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, the Prado and Thyssen-Bornemisza Museums.            
  • Madrid: Art and craft – Cathy Packe takes a trip to Madrid’s Real Fábrica de Tapices – the Royal Tapestry Factory.                   
  • Madrid: Dining with the locals – Alex Leith samples Madrid’s ‘nueva cocina’ – including Sergi Arola, Ferran Adrià and Sergi Santiago – and the older establishments like Botin.                  
  • Madrid’s park life – a shot article by Cathy Packe on Madrid’s parks.
  • Madrid: The traveller’s guide to what’s in store – A look at the shops in Madrid’s fashionable Salamanca, shopping malls, department stores (well, El Corte Inglés) and even the Rastro Flea Market.
  • Madrid: Adventures in clubland – Alex Leith gives a pretty good round-up of Madrid’s trendiest clubs.                        
  • Chic Madrid – Madrid’s chic, boutique hotels.
  • Madrid: Great days out – Simon Calder heads off to Aranjuez, Chinchón and Alcalá de Henares.