New Year’s Eve in Madrid

I have been asked this question so many times now, that I thought I would display the answer on the site. I would also welcome suggestions by other people on the subject, which is:

What can I do and where can I go on New Year’s Eve in Madrid?

This is what I normally end up doing if I find myself in Madrid with my wife, her family and our friends.

Many places in Madrid have private parties on that night – especially the nightclubs. Tickets are not that bad – around 40-60 Euros. However, I have only once been to one of these places and I would
personally recommend that you do the following:
Have a late dinner in a nice restaurant, preferably near the centre of the city as you don’t want to be catching the Metro (I do believe it closes for an hour or two). Try and finish around 11.15  – 11.30. Head as near to the Puerta del Sol as you can. Make sure you buy yourselves a bottle of Cava (Spanish champagne) – I would personally ask the waiter in the previous restaurant to keep it chilled for you. You also need to buy twelve grapes and make sure that you eat them on the stroke of each chime at 12 midnight.

I would then head over to Plaza Santa Ana where you will find plenty of nightlife – and in the nearby streets such as calle Huertas. Try the Moderna, Cerveceria Alemana and Naturbier. You may want to explore the bars around c/ Principe, such as Viva Madrid.  Don’t be alarmed if the bars are closed – this does happen as it gives waiters and bar staff the chance to celebrate with their families. They will open at least by 1 am!

And finally, try and have a cup of chocolate in Cafeteria San Gines – preferably around 6 or 7 in the morning.

These are just some quick thoughts and I would welcome suggestions from other people on where to go in Madrid on New Year’s Eve. Simply add a comment below.

La Bruja (The Witch) at the Teatro de la Zarzuela

According to Wikipedia, Zarzuela

is a Spanish lyric-dramatic genre that alternates between spoken and sung scenes, the latter incorporating operatic and popular song, as well as dance. The name derives from a Royal hunting lodge, the Palacio de la Zarzuela near Madrid, where this type of entertainment was first presented to the court.

thewitchThere are two main forms of zarzuela: Baroque zarzuela (c.1630–1750), the earliest style, and Romantic zarzuela (c.1850–1950), which can be further divided into two, main sub-genres of género grande and género chico although other sub-divisions exist.

Well, if you enjoy opera and can understand Spanish quite well, and you’re in Spain over the next couple of weeks, you could be in for a festive treat. The 150-year old Teatro de la Zarzuela is putting on one of the best works of the well-known (in Spain anyway!) composer Ruperto Chapi, La Bruja. If your Spanish is a little rusty and you would like to get the gist of what goes on, here’s a site that will offer you some advice. Alternatively, you can download the complete synopsis (pdf), in English and Spanish from the Teatro de la Zarzuela website. As someone whose musical tastes are quite varied, I would certainly recommend seeing this unique Spanish experience.

14th December, 2007 – 20th January, 2008

Teatro de la Zarzuela,  Jovellanos, 4
Metro: Sevilla

Oh Baby it’s Cold Inside!

What happens if you put 250 tonnes of ice, 54 ice and snow artists and empty space in Madrid together?

Take a look at the video on this page to find out.

If you fancy going there, you will also find an ice rink and a couple of giant nativity scenes, amongst other things. The area is probably the heart of Madrid’s business district and has a number of shopping centres nearby.

Azca (Metro: Nuevos Ministerios)

Walk the Paseo del Prado and Paseo de Recoletos

Here’s a walk that I have done many, many times and I thought I’d share it with readers of Mad About Madrid.

We will start off in the Glorieta del Emperador Carlos V (or the Glorieta de Atocha). Atocha station, which occupies the south side of the square, is the main railway station in Madrid, and trains from both the Madrid community and the Spanish regions arrive here. The station was inaugurated in 1851, destroyed and rebuilt in 1892.  The old terminal building was taken out of service in 1992 and turned into a shopping centre and tropical gardens. The latter is a great place to chill and take in some of the 500 plant species. Atocha station is also well-known as the place where 191 people were murdered in 2004 and you will also find special consoles there where you can leave a hand silhouette and message.

350px-PicassoGuernica To the West of the square you will see the Ministry of Agriculture, Fishing and Food. The building was completed in 1897 and with its Corinthian columns and winged statues on its roof is very impressive. Heading South-west of the Plaza you will find one of three museums which make up Madrid’s Golden Triangle (the other two are the Prado and Thyssen), the  Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. The art on display in this museum is mainly Spanish and includes one of the most well-known paintings in the world – Picasso’s Guernica.

Head north off the square and you start to walk up the Paseo del Prado. The word “Prado” in English means meadow and was the place outside the main city walls where Madrileños used to go for recreation. The Paseo del Prado is one of the main boulevards of Madrid and, like much of this part of the city, came about under the reign of Carlos III. Around this time the area was covered in trees and the idea was to convert it into a place with gardens and trees and with the urban design of José de Hermosilla fountains (Cibeles, Neptune and Apolo) would be added.

On the west side of this boulevard you will see the Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid (Royal Botanic Gardens), again under the command of Carlos III (in 1781). It covers around 8 hectares and has around 5,000 different plants and trees from around the world in its collection. Given the uneven terrain it occupies, the Botanic gardens have various terraces for different types of plants and trees. Towards the end of the boulevard, also on the west side, you will find one of the most finest art galleries in the world – the Prado Museum.  The museum was opened in 1819  and over time two further buildings were “incorporated” into the Museum – the Casón del Buen Retiro and the Salon de Reinos. The former housed Picasso’s Guernica, when it was returned from the USA and before it went to the Reina Sofía Museum.

On the opposite side of the Paseo del Prado you will find some of Madrid’s “literary” streets leading off from there – c/ de Leon, c/ Huertas, c/ Lope de Vega, c/ Cervantes. Miguel de Cervantes – author of Don Quijote – actually died in c/ de León. Lope de Vega – another famous author lived in c/ Cervantes  and other notable Spanish writers like Quevedo and Góngora also lived in this district. That is why the barrio is now called Barrio de las Letras. At night time this area becomes a hive of activity when Madrileños and tourists hit its many bars and restaurants.

At the end of this first stretch of the Paseo del Prado, you will find the Plaza de Cánovas del Castillo – often called Plaza de Neptuno because of Neptune’s statue in the middle of the square. The fountain was designed by Ventura Rodríguez in 1782 and created by Juan Pascual de Mena between 1780 and 1784. It used to be situated more towards the Plaza de Cibeles and actually looked towards it as opposed to looking towards the centre of the city.

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Christmas in Madrid 2007

Navidad_2007This looks like it’s going to be a bumper, fun-packed Christmas in Madrid. I have just taken a look at the Christmas agenda from the Madrid City Council tourist section and it looks like 2007 will be even better than 2006. I find that the build up to Christmas in Spain is much better than places like the UK, where trees, lights and other paraphernalia start appearing in November – Marks and Spencer and the like even start selling bloody Christmas puddings in October!

Even though the Christmas lights went on a week ago, many of the other activities are staggered over the Christmas period. Like last year the Plaza de Colón will be turned into a fairytale island. Nativity scenes will be found all over the city – often in churches, history museum – and the new headquarters of the Madrid City Council (in the Palacio de Cibeles) will hold the principal nativity scene, created by José Luis Mayo. If you have never seen these before, the ones in Madrid are often sights to behold.

The Plaza Mayor has the traditional Christmas stalls where you can buy trees, nativity figures and a number of annoying products – like spray snow and fluorescent lights – that kids love.

If you want to go ice skating, you can either go to Azca (Metro Nuevos Ministerios) or the Campo de Moro (Metro Príncipe Pío or Opera). I went to Azca last year with my wife and children and there was both an ice rink and mini toboggan run – both father and son loved it!

The Plaza de España will feature a craft fair from the 20th December to the th January, where around 200 stalls will be displaying mainly gifts from Madrid.

Nore information can be found on the esMadrid website.

Autumn Exhibitions in Madrid Museums

There are quite a few good exhibitions going on in Madrid at this time of year. Here is a breakdown of the temporary exhibitions from the Prado, Reina Sofía and Thyssen Museums and the Juan March Foundation.

Albrecht DürerMuseo de arte Thyssen-Bornemisza

Dürer and Cranach. Art and Humanism in Renaissance Germany

Dates: October 9th, 2007 – January 6th, 2008

Reina Sofía

This museum has a few temporary exhibitions this Autumn, including:

Gustavo Torner – September 11th, 2007 – December 16th, 2007
Paul Rego – September 26th – December 30th, 2007
Andy Goldsworthy – October 3rd, 2007 – January 21st, 2008
Jano – La doble cara de la fotografía. October 10th – December 20th, 2007

Prado Musuem

The 19th century in the Prado including:

Goya and Neo-classicism
History Painting

The end of the century

Dates:  October 31th, 2007 – April 20th, 2008

Fundación Juan March

The Abstraction of Landscape

Dates: October 5th, 2007 – 13th January, 2008

SIMO Technology Exhibition 2007 About to Open

On 6th November, 2007 the SIMO Feria Internacional de Informática Multimedia y Comunicaciones will open its doors. For an event whose objective is to promote the latest digital technologies they have come up with a crap poor website which breaks all rules on usability, accessibility and common sense-ibility!

From what I struggled to work out there should be some interesting discussions and exhibitions on the following:

  • IT. computers, peripheral devices and electronics
  • Professional Applications. Operating systems CAD/CAM/CAE
  • Telecoms. Mobile Phones, Local Area Networks, Servers, etc
  • E-Business – Internet.

There is a new area that has been created this year for Web 2.0 – an area that I am working in myself. Digital Content is also represented.

2007 Festival de Otoño

festival de otoño, Madrid
For the 24th year running the Festival de Otoño returns to Madrid. A combination of music, theatre, dance and circus from around the world will entertain visitors and Madrileños for the coming 5 weeks. The event runs from the 15th October to the 18th November and is held is venues across the city.

The Theatre companies who are represented include: Britain’s National Theatre, La Comédie-Française, Piccolo Teatro di Milano, Josep Maria Mestres.

Dance companies
attending include: Les Ballets C. de la B., Compañía Blanca Li, Toneelhuis. Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Compañía Carlotta Sagna.

On the music front Caetano Veloso, Companyia Carles Santos, David Sylvian, Philip Glass and Compagnia dell’ Ambra will all be performing.

For more information, visit the Festival de Otoño website.

Shameless Advertising!!

Google Aims to Help Madrid Tourist Sector

In my day job I spend most of the time helping clients gain better rankings on Google and creating Google AdWord campaigns to drive traffic to their website. I sometimes do exhibitions (I’ll be at the Lead On 2007 event next month) and often present. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the Madrid TravelThink event, which has heavy participation from Google, caught my eye.

Madrid Travel think is an opportunity for those in the travel industry to learn from Google experts, and others in the industry, what the latest tips and trends to gain new clients are. The event takes place at the Palacio Municipal de Congresos de Madrid on the 15th October, 2007.

I hope that one of the organisers, Es Madrid, sends all of its marekting people as they could learn a lot about optimsiation and how to create Google AdWords from the people from Google!

Madrid’s Galleries Open at Night

As a forerunner to next week’s ‘Noche en Blanco‘ (White Night), Madrid’s art galleries will be opening their doors tomorrow night until midnight. An initiative of Arte Madrid over 40 galleries will participate. For more details download their pdf document. More details on Noche en Blanco will follow this week. In the meantime you may want to check out Damian Corrigan’s Noche en Blanco page on

Mad About Madrid Back Writing

I haven’t posted for a good, few weeks now. I have actually been to my wife’s village in El Barraco, near Avila. I had a good time, my son learnt to ride a bike; I actually saw a couple of bullfights (courtesy of free tickets from my brother-in-law); went on a quad ride; ate good food and drank one or two beers!

Anyway, here’s something that caught my eye this week. It looks like there will be a couple of new musicals starting in September. The first is Jesus Christ Superstar at the Teatro Lope de Vega. Starring Miquel Fernández, the Andrew Lloyd-Webber production will open its doors on the 20th September, 2007.

On October 4th, 2007 the popular Disney musical Beauty and the Beast (La Bella y la Bestia) will begin its 6-month run at the Teatro Coliseum. It stars Julia Möller, David Ordinas y Pablo Puyol and prices range from abround 24 Euros to 70 Euros.

Madrid: The 10th Most Liveable City in the World

According to the International Herald Tribune Madrid is the World’s 10th Most Liveable City. Munich is the most liveable – with a total of 7 other European cities being in the top 10. Each city has a dedicated page outlining the attributes of each and Madrid’s – Madrid emerges from Barcelona’s shadow (I can already hear the Madrileños spitting at that!) – talks about the work undertaken by the mayor, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, and the usual:

But Madrid has huge pluses: all the major employers are here; eating out is cheap (€30 per head at a good restaurant) and there is a plethora of cheap public transport and a 24-hour nightlife.

There are some good stats and commentary here. The main article is called Quality of Life 2007 and makes for interesting reading.

Veranos de la Villa – Madrid’s Summer Festival

I must apologise to regular visitors to this blog for not having written an article for a while but I have been quite busy with work and developing my other website – Marketing Tom. Because of that I failed to write up about one of the big events in Madrid’s calendar, the Veranos de la Villa festival. This festival runs from the 2nd July until the 26th August and offers visitors and Madrileños the ability to see around 100 shows covering music, theatre, dance, circus events and zarzuela in some of the most important venues around the city. The Sabatini gardens (next to Palacio Real), Conde Duque, Plaza Mayor, Centro Cultural de la Villa and Teatro Español are just some of those locations.

Here’s a brief selection of singers who will perform – Liza Minelli, Laurie Anderson, Carlos Núñez, Andy & Lucas, David de María, Antonio Vega, Patricia Kraus and Mercedes Ferrer, Diego el Cigala, Yossou N’ Dour. Flamenco artists include: José Mercé, Carmen Linares, José Menese, Rafaela Carrasco, Manuel Molina, La Negra and Esperanza Fernández. The Patio Conde Duque will host the Boston Ballet and the Legend Lin Dance Theatre and Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess is performed by the New York Harlem Theatre.

Classsic Spanish plays like Calderón de la Barca’s Casa con dos puertas mala es de guardar and Shakespeare’s Cymbelline will be performed in the Jardines de Galileo.

All in all, there’s something for everyone.

For more (much more) information, take a look at the Veranos de la Villa microsite from EsMadrid.