Traveling in Madrid
MUSIC AND FLAMENCO
Anyone interested in live entertainment should stop by the Circulo de Bellas Artes, C. Alcala 42 (M: Sevilla or Banco de Espana. s913 60 54 00; www.circulobellasartes.com). Their magazine, Minerva, is indispensable. Check the Guia del Ocio for information on the city-sponsored movies, plays, and concerts. Flamenco in Madrid is tourist-oriented and expensive. A few nightlife spots are authentic, but pricey. Casa Patas, C. Canizares 10, is good quality for less than usual. ( 913 69 04 96; www.casa-patas.com. M: Anton Martin.) At Corral de la Moreria, C. Moreria 17, shows start at 9:45pm and last until 2am. (913 65 84 46. M: 6pera or La Latina. Cover ‚30.)
Spanish sports fans go ballistic for futbol (soccer to Americans). Every Sunday and some Saturdays from September to June, one of two local teams plays at home. Real Madrid plays at Estadio Santiago Bemabeu, Po. Castellana 104. (&914 57 11 12. M: Lima.) Atletico de Madrid plays at Estadio Vicente Calderon, C. Virgen del Puerto 67. (913 66 47 07. M: Pircimides or Marques de Vadillos. Tickets ‚18-42.)
Bullfighters are either loved or loathed. So, too, are the bullfights themselves. Nevertheless, bullfights are a Spanish tradition, and locals joke that they are the only things in Spain ever to start on time. Hemingway-toting Americans and true fans of a contorted struggle between man and beast clog PL de las Ventas for the heart-pounding, albeit gruesome, events.
From May 15-May 22 every year, the Fiestas de San Isidro provide a daily corrida (bullfight) with top matadores and the fiercest bulls. The festival is nationally televised; those without tickets crowd into bars. There are also bullfights every Sunday from March to October and less frequently throughout the rest of the year. Look for posters in bars and cafes for upcoming corridas (especially on C. Victoria, off C. San Jeronimo). Plaza de las Ventas, C. de Alcala 237, is the biggest ring in Spain. ( 923 56 22 00; www.las-ventas.com. M: Ventas. A seat costs ‚5-92, depending on location in the sun (sol) or shade (sombra); shade is more expensive. Tickets are available the Friday and Saturday before and the Sunday of the bullfight.) Plaza de Toros Palacio de Vista Alegre, a new ring in town, hosts bullfights and cultural events. (&914 22 07 80. M: Vista Alegre. Call ahead for schedule and prices.) To watch amateurs, head to the bullfighting school, which has its own corridas. (s914 70 19 90. M: Batin. Open Sa 7:30pm. Tickets ‚7, children ‚3.50.)
The city bursts with street fiestas, dancing, and processions during Carnaval in February, culminating on Ash Wednesday with the beginning of Lent and the burial of the Sardine in the Casa de Campo. In late April, the city bubbles with the renowned International Theater Festival. The Comunidad de Madrid celebrates its struggle against the French invasion of 1808 during the Fiestas del 2 de Mayo with bullfights and concerts. Starting May 15, the month-long Fiestas de San Isidro honor Madrid’s patron saint with a pilgrimage to the saint’s meadow, various concerts, parades, and Spain’s best bullfights. At the end of June, Madrid goes mad with Orgullo Gay (Gay Pride). Outrageous floats filled with drag queens and muscle boys shut down traffic between El Retiro and Puerta del Sol on the Saturday of Pride Weekend. The weekend is filled with free concerts in PI. Chueca and PI. de Vazquez de Mella and bar crawls among the congested streets of Chueca. Throughout the summer, the city sponsors the Veranos de la Villa, an outstanding and varied set of cultural activities, including concerts by intemationally-renowned artists of all styles, free classical music concerts, open-air movies, plays, art exhibits, an international film festival, opera, zarzuela (light Spanish opera), ballet, and sports. The Festivales de Otono (Autumn Festivals), from September to November, also bring an impressive array of music, theater, and film. On November 1, Todos los Santos (All Saints’ Day), an International Jazz Festival entices great musicians to Madrid. On New Year’s Eve, El Fin del Afio, crowds gather around Puerta del Sol to countdown to the new year and eat 12 uvas (grapes), one by one, as the clock strikes midnight. The brochure Las Fiestas de Espana, available at tourist offices and bigger hotels, contains comprehensive info on Spain’s festivals.
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