The festivities of San Isidro in Madrid
The festivities in honour of San Isidro offer a unique chance to see Madrid at its most typical. They are held in May, and are a time when the chulapos and goyescos (inhabitants of the city dressed in the traditional costume of Madrid) take to the streets to enjoy themselves with music, dancing the typical regional dance known as the chotis and eating typical dishes in honour of the Saint. This is also the occasion of the prestigious San Isidro bullfighting festival.
San Isidro Festival is held every year in Madrid around 15 May, the day of San Isidro. Besides, the San Isidro bullfighting festival is held in the Las Ventas bullring, and attracts some of the biggest names in bullfighting today.
What you’ll find there
A unique chance to discover some of the most authentic customs of Madrid, a major capital city which still conserves all its popular traditions intact. Throughout the weekend of the holiday you’ll find concerts and street parades winding through the city centre. What’s more, many of the local inhabitants dress up in the typical chulapo and goyesco costumes, all accompanied by the strains of the music of the chotis (the traditional dance of Madrid). There are also activities for children all around the city and popular dancing to enjoy by night. And the best of all is that most of these activities are completely free.
Not to be missed
The Pradera of San Isidro: this is the place where the genuine festivity of San Isidro is celebrated on the morning of 15 May. Throngs of people flock to take part in a pilgrimage to the shrine of the Saint, where tradition dictates that everyone must drink from the spring. The same day, all the participants enjoy a picnic in the Pradera, where a variety of food stalls offer all the typical dishes of Madrid. The area is alive with chulapos, music and crowds of people all intent on having fun. The site known as La Pradera is an area beside the Manzanares river, opposite the Vicente Calderón football stadium.
Rosquillas : this is a type of aniseed doughnuts which are typical of these festivities. They are also known as tontas, or ‘silly ones’ (without icing), listas, or ‘clever ones’ (with a layer of lemon icing), and de Santa Clara (with a dusting of icing sugar).
A chulapo and a chulapa dancing a chotis : this is the typical image of the festivity and one you’re bound to see at the Pradera de San Isidro. This is clear evidence that Madrid remains faithful to its traditional roots.
An afternoon at the bullfight in the Las Ventas bullring: the festival of San Isidro offers 24 afternoons of bullfighting featuring some of the world’s best matadors.
Dancing the night away: throughout the days of the festivities there are numerous popular dances in Madrid, and among the best-known is the one that takes place in Las Vistillas, beside the Puente de Segovia bridge. Here you’ll find free concerts, food stalls, attractions for children and a genuinely festive atmosphere.
A typical castizo souvenir from Madrid: for example a palpusa (chulapo‘s hat), a safo (a handkerchief worn around the neck) or one of the silk Manila shawls worn by the chulapas. If you want to find out the exact details of the programme of festive activities and all the latest developments, we recommend you contact the tourist offices in the city of Madrid.