For a cooler and less crowded walk around the city, it is best to visit Madrid in either May or October. The summer months in between these two months are very hot. Combine this with the school holidays and you have a city crowded with hot, irritable people. The most crowded time for museums and the like are the two hours before noon.
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- Best Time To Visit The Royal Palace
- Best Time To See Bullfighting
- Best Time To Enjoy the Madrid Nightlife
- Best Time For Shopping in Madrid
- travel Seasons in Madrid
- Month By Month Weather in Madrid
- Most Popular Events in Madrid
Best Time To Visit The Royal Palace
Madrid’s top attraction – especially the ceremony of the guard changeover. In the two hottest months it may be canceled because of the extreme heat. If you are planning to watch this then do not visit Madrid in July or August.
The queues are more moderate at the beginning of the day – allow yourself a quarter of an hour before opening time. Also, the crowds fade away in the last two hours of the day. These are good times to choose if you find it difficult to wait in a long line of people.
The winter months are less busy and you will get a better view. The busiest times are always around the guard changeover. This is especially true at weekends. So plan your visit for the best experience by choosing to go early or late.
Best Time To See Bullfighting
The Madrid bullfighting season runs from the middle of May to the end of October. During the season the bullfights are held on Sundays in the evening from 7pm. Take care to choose tickets that will give you a seat in the shade.
Best Time To Enjoy the Madrid Nightlife
Most Spaniards do not go out until late in the evening. Madrid nightlife is the latest in the country. In Madrid nightlife lasts all night. The evening meal in Madrid is generally taken around 10pm. Most clubs do not open until the bars close and will stay open until dawn. You haven’t had a night out in Madrid if you go home before 4am. Every night is party night in Madrid but the festivities peak in high summer and other holidays.
Best Time For Shopping in Madrid
Madrid is an excellent place to go shopping. You will find everything you ever wanted and many items you did not know you always wanted. To snap up a bargain visit during sale season when prices can be reduced to 30% of the original price.
The Festival of Kings on 6th January marks the end of the Christmas holiday and the winter sales begin the next day. They will continue until the end of February or until all the sale stock has been cleared. The summer sales start in the first half of July and can continue until the end of September. You will have the most choice at the beginning of the sale season but will also have the biggest crowds to contend with. Towards the end, you will get clearance prices but less choice of items to buy.
travel Seasons in Madrid
High or Peak Season in Madrid
This covers the two months of July to August. Unless there is an event that you really want to attend Madrid is best avoided during these months. It is very hot and packed full of visitors. The price of accommodation is at maximum. Add to this, many businesses close in August for a summer holiday. The visitors from out of town are then joined by locals with time to kill. In addition to the summer peak, there is another peak season covering the Christmas holidays.
If you are visiting during these times plan ahead as accommodation is expensive and scarce.
Middle (Shoulder) Season in Madrid
There are two periods either side of the summer peak season which can be classed as the shoulder season in Madrid. The three months to the end of May and the two months to the end of October. This is a lovely time to visit. Late May and Late September are idyllic for both temperature and crowds. It is comfortable to walk around and you are not fighting through crowds to see the attractions. The days are still long enough to allow for a full day of sightseeing.
Low or Off-Peak season in Madrid
This covers the whole of winter with the exception of the weeks of the Christmas Holiday. Best prices can be obtained for accommodation. You can choose to spend the same amount but have a better class of room. Fewer people visiting so it is easy to walk around. The weather can be cool but is most unlikely to freeze. Plenty of bright sunny days to enjoy a leisurely break in Madrid.
Month By Month Weather in Madrid
January in Madrid
Madrid in winter is colder than in most of Spain. It is unlikely to freeze as the average low temperature is 1°C. This is the coldest month in Madrid. The day time high peaks at 10°C so you will need to pack warm clothing.
You may see snow on the mountains but Madrid rarely gets snowed on. There will be some rain but generally, the Madrid climate is dry in January. Rainfall averages 40mm. Pack clothes that can be layered up or down. Include a warm winter coat or jacket but not one designed for an extremely cold climate.
Weather Stats for Madrid: Low 1°C, High 10°C. Average rainfall 40mm.
February in Madrid
The weather in February is largely the same as in January. The temperature may peak 2° warmer at 12°C. There is more likelihood of a pleasant afternoon. Although the days of winter are shorter you can still enjoy 10-11 hours of daylight in Madrid during February. Pack the same clothing options as you would for January.
Weather Stats for Madrid: High 12°C. Average rainfall 40mm.
March in Madrid
The days are beginning to warm up as spring approaches. The day time temperature can peak at 16°C. March is drier than both January and February, a mere 30mm of rain. The rain is spread across an average of eight days and the showers are light. The days are growing longer and will feel longer when the clocks go forward this month. You can enjoy up to 12 hours of daylight for sightseeing. You will still need to pack layers to cope with the variable temperature.
Weather Stats for Madrid: High 16°C. Average rainfall 30mm. Number of rainy days:8
April in Madrid
One of the wetter months in Madrid. You can expect 50mm of rain across ten days in this month. The average daytime temperature is 11°C. Towards the end of the month, the high temperature can peak at 17°C. Pack layers and be prepared for the odd downpour. You may benefit from a very warm day during your visit so make sure some of your clothing is lightweight and cool. Light t-shirts under warm jumpers and a small umbrella is a good combination for this month.
Weather Stats for Madrid: High 17°C. Average 11°C. Average rainfall 50mm. Number of rainy days: 10.
May in Madrid
Summer is approaching. More sunshine and higher temperatures. Expect an average of 22°C throughout May. Slightly drier than April with an average rainfall of 40mm. This is a lovely time to visit, you can dodge the occasional shower in a café with a cup of coffee and a sweet treat. Easier to get around as the summer crowds have not yet arrived. This is an excellent time to go sightseeing and perhaps a swim in the sea.
Weather Stats for Madrid: High 22°C. Average rainfall 40mm
June in Madrid
The first official month of summer. Temperatures will peak at 29°C. Appreciably warmer than May. Less rain, an average of 30mm over this month. Expect around six rainy days when the rainfall will be light. No need to bother with rainproof clothing. Pack light and cool summer wear with perhaps a few warm items for the cooler evenings. You will need sun protection: Hats, sunglasses and sunscreen. You can go swimming so don’t forget your swimming costume. The days are longer with almost 15 hours of light.
Weather Stats for Madrid: High 29°C. Average rainfall 30mm. Number of rainy days: 6
July in Madrid
This month is hot. Expect and prepare for an average daytime high of 33°C. July is dry with minimal rainfall of 10mm. In order to cope with the extreme heat shops and cafés take a siesta by closing in the middle of the day. The sensible visitor adopts the same approach. Plan to be out and about during the cooler morning and late afternoon/evening. In the middle of the day plan to be indoors. Either having a quiet nap in order to prepare for the nightlife or visiting a museum with air-conditioning. The nights are hot and uncomfortable. To enjoy a good night’s sleep it is worth ensuring that you have booked a room with air-conditioning if visiting in July. Pack light cool clothing and sun protection. If intending to swim in the sea then plan to visit the beach very early or late.
Weather Stats for Madrid: High 33°C. Average rainfall 10mm.
August in Madrid
Very similar to July but occasionally the temperature will peak above 37°C. The days are roasting hot and walking around built-up areas with the heat reflecting off the walls is unpleasant. Similar levels of rain to last month. On average three rainy days but it will be very light. Madrid businesses tend to close down in August because of the extreme heat and the desire to flee the city. Plan your day to be out and about when it is cooler. Plan to be inside between 2 and 7pm.
Weather Stats for Madrid: Average high 33°C. Maximum 37°C. Average rainfall 10mm. Number of rainy days: 3.
September in Madrid
The high heat of Summer is beginning to fade. September is similar to June. Temperature peaking at 29°C. Hotter at the beginning of the month and cooling down as the month progresses. The slightly cooler weather and fewer crowds mean this is a great month to visit Madrid. A little more rain, an average of 20mm for this month. It is going to be light. Stick with summer clothing with perhaps a warm item or two for the cooler evenings.
Weather Stats for Madrid: Average High 33°C. Average Rainfall 20mm. Number of rainy days: 6.
October in Madrid
A great time to be walking around the city. 21°C is the usual highest temperature. A little more rain but spread over 10 days. The showers are light and there are plenty of sunny days. Plenty of daylight but the nights are getting longer, by the end of October less than ten hours daylight. The clocks go back one hour this month. Pack clothes that you can layer up and down depending on the temperature. Be prepared to deal with a little light rain.
Weather Stats for Madrid: High 21°C. Average rainfall 40mm. Number of rainy days: 10.
November in Madrid
This month is appreciably cooler. Expect the temperature to peak at 15°C. A wetter month with nine days of rain. Only 50mm of rain so light waterproof clothing or an umbrella will cope with it. November in Madrid can spring some surprises with regards to the weather. Some years an Indian Summer will allow you to wander the streets in a t-shirt. Another year and you will need to wrap up warm against the cold winter air. In packing for a visit in November be prepared for all weather types. Layers are the most sensible option. Typically, you will need warm sweaters and a coat.
Weather Stats for Madrid: High 15°C. Average Rainfall 50mm. Number of rainy days: 9.
December in Madrid
December is a winter month and you can expect it to be cold, even in Madrid. Preparations for the holidays are in the air and Madrid has a certain buzz and life at this time of year. On average the temperature will be around 7°C. You may be lucky enough to experience a warmer day when the temperature will peak at 11°C. The rainfall is at the same level as November. Very rarely you may see snow in the city. It is unlikely to stay. Pack for cold weather. As always, layers are a flexible option in case your visit to Madrid benefits from an extra warm day or two.
Weather Stats for Madrid: High 11°C. Average 7°C. Average rainfall 50mm. Number of rainy days:9
Most Popular Events in Madrid
January has many religious festivals
New Year’s Day
The New Year begins with a national holiday. Expect most places to be closed. If not too tired from the night before, today is a good day to explore the streets. Look out for the historic buildings with their fascinating architectural elements. Little hidden squares or plazas are tucked away in surprising places. The barrio of Alonso Martinez is very pretty. Unlike the other attractions, Madrid Zoo opens on 1st January from 9am.
Three Kings Parade
The coming of the three wise men (kings) is celebrated on 5th January. It is celebrated all over Spain, but Madrid’s is considered to be one of the best. In order to get a good view of the procession pick a spot along Avenida de la Castellana or at the Plaza de Colon. The parade begins around 6pm so plan to arrive early as the route will be crowded. The floats will be lavishly decorated, the costumes are stupendous and the procession includes animals. Mainly beasts of burden such as oxen and horses. The floats are accompanied by music and marching bands. A colorful noisy spectacle. If you are visiting it is well worth taking along your camera.
Feast of the Epiphany
This takes place on 6th January. Another national holiday in Spain. The traditional sweet treat bought and shared on this day is Epiphany Cake. In Spanish, this is called Roscon de Reyes. It is a crown-shaped pastry that can be plain or a more luxurious custard or cream-filled treat. Inside the cake is hidden a dried bean, rather like a silver charm in a Christmas cake. The person who finds this is celebrated as the winner by wearing a golden crown. The crown is made of cardboard and is included with the cake. Traditionally this lucky person is responsible for buying the cake for next year’s celebration.
San Anton Festival
This is the feast day of St Anthony in his guise as the Patron Saint of animals. All Spain celebrates this on 17th January. The main focus of the celebration in Madrid takes place in Chueca. The animals and owners are blessed in front of the crowds. This blessing is supposed to provide both protection and good health for man and beast in the year ahead.
February celebrates faith, art and love
This in Spanish is Dia de la Candelaria. It is the feast day of the Virgin of Candelaria. It takes place on 2nd of February. The virgin is honored with a parade. The parade features elements of the bullfight. Wooden bulls are pushed and pulled around by clowns. The clowns are costumed to represent farmers taking the bulls to the bullfight. Others dress in silks and paper flowers to represent the matadors. They pretend to fight the bull with lassos. The finale of the parade takes place in the evening. The bulls are symbolically killed in the city center. The crowd is then invited to celebrate by drinking the blood of the fallen bulls – sangria.
A celebration of lent. This time of fasting and reflection covers 40 days. This represents the time that Jesus spent in the wilderness being tempted by the devil. It ends with Easter – Semana Santa. Madrid’s celebration runs for the first week of Lent. It begins with a parade and ends with a masked ball. The parade route is the Paseo de la Castellana. The Circulo de Bellas Artes is the venue for the ball. Throughout the week there is plenty of street entertainment. Parades for the children and lots of mini-festivals. These feature dance from around the world and plenty of music.
International Contemporary Art Fair (ARCO)
This world-class event is held in the second half of February every year. Over five days artworks from across the globe are displayed. The venue is the Casa de Camp in the Crystal Pavilion. This prestigious event attracts exhibitions from major galleries from every continent. In addition, both regional and international artists take the opportunity to showcase their work to a wide audience. The concentration is on art being produced today. New ways of painting and depicting the world and our feelings towards it. This event is an opportunity to see a varied selection of art and artists in the same place.
In Spanish, this is called El Dia de San Valetin. It is not really celebrated in Spain but businesses such as bars, shops and restaurants have adopted it. The old town is the place to go for traditional Spanish food and flamenco dancing. The newer places offer romantic packages – dinner for two, red roses.
March is a quiet month but you can make three wishes …
Festival of Jesus de Medinaceli
The first Sunday in March is time to head to the Jesus de Medinaceli in order to make three wishes. The basilica contains a 17th Century statue of Jesus. Following your visit to the basilica, it is time to head to a traditional Andalusian fair put on in celebration.
St Patrick’s Day
This is not a Spanish holiday but Madrid has a large Irish population. Everyone has adopted the celebrations of St Patrick’s day. Madrid turns a little Irish on the 17th March and the music is lively and there are plenty of activities to entertain the crowds. Expect to be able to find Irish stew and Guinness. Instead of foot-tapping and emotional flamenco, you will see lively jigs. There is a parade at Cabo Roig starting at 5.0pm.
April celebrates faith, tennis and music
All of Holy Week is celebrated in Spain. This is the period from the blessing of the palms (Palm Sunday) to Easter Sunday. The exact date changes every year but it will always be between the last half of March and the first half of April. Madrid’s celebrations are spectacular. The images of Mary and Jesus leave their churches and are carried by the faithful through the streets. They may be carried on wonderfully decorated floats. Marching bands add appropriate music to the processions. At 7pm on Good Friday the Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno is paraded through the streets from the Basílica del Cristo de Medinaceli. Good places to watch the parade are Puerto de Sol and Plaza Cibeles.
The Plaza Mayor hosts an interesting event on Easter Sunday. It is believed that at the point of Jesus’ death the earth shook. The square is filled with many drums. The drummers beat out a steady rhythm to symbolize this event.
Madrid Open (Tennis)
Ten days of exciting tennis played by all the great players. This is staged every year at the end of April. If you are a tennis fan this is an opportunity to see some world-class players in action.
A music festival covering a wide range of genres, but not usually folk or country. Takes place over a fortnight towards the end of April. Depending on the exact dates it may continue into May. It attracts a good selection of bands.
May celebrates past battles
Takes place on the 1st of May. The celebrations are in memory of the events of 1808. At that time Napoleon was occupying the city. The people rebelled (unsuccessfully) against him. On this day upwards of 60,000 people will join the march. The day finishes with a huge party at the Casa de Campo. Enjoy the music, food and lively atmosphere.
Dos de Mayo
It celebrates the same doomed uprising of 1808. The occupation of Madrid by French troops was resented then and is remembered now. The main celebrations are held in Malasana. You can attend flamenco performances or a concert. The Dos de Mayo square was the starting point of the rebellion. Events are held across the city.
Fiesta de San Isrido
Madrid’s Patron Saint is San Isrido. His feast day is 15th May. The bullfighting season in Madrid starts on this day. Madrid attracts the best fighters and breeders as Madrid host’s the grandest and largest events for this sport. The main festival takes place on the feast day but there are lots of other events around this day. Activities on offer include bullfighting, food fairs and parades. There are plenty of parties and performances of dance and music. A busy time in Madrid.
Feria del Libro
Parque del Retiro hosts a book fair every year. It attracts novelists from around the world and historians. It begins in late May and lasts for a fortnight. You can expect the usual book fair activities of signings and talks as books are being promoted
June has music, fireworks and gay pride
An annual event celebrating urban culture. A broad range of arts are represented, not just music and dance but tattoo artists, painters, sculptures and performance art. This festival focusses on new talent and takes culture as a very broad concept. There are open-air concerts and exhibits.
Festival of San Juan
Parque del Retiro hosts this two-day event marking the longest day. It is celebrated with a firework display and bonfires on the night of the 23rd June.
Madrid is a major city and its gay pride event is one of the largest on the planet. Activities take place over two weeks. Originally its focus was on the gay and lesbian community but the festival now attracts the whole community. Held in the second half of June with most events taking place in the Chueca area. Most events and live acts are free to attend. The parade is the biggest in Spain and attracts a huge number of visitors to Madrid, more than 1.5 million. If visiting Madrid during this time, book your accommodation in advance. The city will be very busy.
July has a month-long festival
Veranos de la Villa
This is the month-long summer festival in Madrid. You can find plenty of free entertainment across the city in July. Parque del Retiro hosts an outdoor cinema. You can attend all types of musical performance as well as flamenco shows. There are displays of folk and traditional dances as well as more classical music and dance.
Nuestra Senora de las Victorias
Tetuan area joins in the summer celebrations on the first Sunday of this month. A mixture of events but mainly concerts.
Virgin del Carmen
The Virgen del Carmen is celebrated in the middle of July. The Carabanchel, La Latina and Vallecas areas are where most events take place. These are an exhaustive almost continuous mixture of religious and sporting events.
August for the bull running
Virgen de la Paloma, San Cayetano and San Lorenzo
These feast days all fall within ten days ending on 15th August. They all involve the wearing of traditional clothing, music and dancing. The celebrations mainly take place in the streets in the historic center of Madrid’s old town.
Bull running San Sebastian De Los Reyes
In Madrid, this takes place at the end of August. Those who participate in this will dress in white and red clothing. They attempt to run faster than the young bulls being driven through the streets. They try and win this race while drinking sangria. Pamplona stages the famous bull run (San Fermin festival) but Madrid puts on the second greatest event of this kind. The bulls run fast and are armed with sharp horns. If you are going to watch this make sure you choose a safe place to stand.
September honors rebellion and fashion
Fiestas del Motin
This festival re-enacts well-known local mutinies. Travel south from Madrid to Aranjuez to watch these. Each district stages its own re-enactment of its mutiny, all on the first weekend of this month. The residents perform enthusiastically with 100s taking part.
Vogues Fashion Night Out (VFNO)
This discount fashion event takes place in the middle of the month. A collection of 160 plus stores offer designer clothing at a discount for this event. In addition to bargain hunting, you can enjoy a champagne reception. At this event (and others) you can preview the must-have clothing for next season. Have your photograph taken on the red carpet. An opportunity to grab a fashion bargain and take that perfect selfie.
Fiestas of la Virgen de la Torre
Head to Villa de Vallecas area in the second week of this month where these fiestas are held. Traditional Spanish fairs with music, food and drink on offer.
October celebrates autumn and Spain
Fiestas de Otono
Fiesta de Otono is Spanish for the Autumn Festival. This festival is celebrated for the whole of this month and spills over into the beginning of November. Performing arts are showcased all over the city. This includes circus skills along with other more traditional dance and theatre. Book a workshop to acquire a new skill and attend a performance or two.
Dia de la Hispanitat
This event takes place on 12th October. A national holiday in honor of Christopher Columbus. There is some disquiet about claiming that Christopher Columbus “discovered” the New World. This day is now marketed as Hispanic Day. The celebrations concentrate on the reasons why Spain should be proud of its achievements and culture. The Spanish Royal family attends the military parade in Madrid. If you want to watch head to Paseo de Recoletos to watch the military equipment parade past. Above there is a flypast performed by the Spanish Airforce showcasing their fighter jets.
This is becoming more popular with the adults of Madrid as an excuse to dress up and party. There is no long-standing practice of celebrating Halloween in Spain but businesses are embracing the opportunity to attract more customers. In Heurtas area in the center of Madrid, there are plenty of opportunities to go out in costume. Many of the nightclubs, bars and restaurants will offer a small cash prize for the best outfit on this night.
November has arts and antiques.
All Saints Day
1st November is a national holiday. This is a time when floral tributes are laid on graves. A time to remember loved ones. Madrid is a lively cosmopolitan city and although government offices and banks close, most businesses now remain open. This includes many museums. As a visitor to Madrid, you are unlikely to be affected by this holiday.
Virgen de la Almudena
The feast day is 9th November. There will be celebrations in the city center to acknowledge this Patron Saint of Madrid.
This is a huge annual fair where you can buy art and antiques. The claim to fame is that it is the only arts and antiques fair in Spain. It attracts international buyers and sellers. It is held in the second half of November. It proudly boasts that the items on sale are authentic and of exceptional quality and has a committee to oversee this. It is an opportunity to acquire a truly unique item.
December is all about Christmas
Plaza Mayor’s Christmas market is well worth a visit. It starts in the middle of December and does not finish until the 5th of January. A small village of log cabins are erected for the stallholders. Shop for decorations, little nativity figures or sets and lots of handmade gifts.
Parque Warner Madrid
This theme park gears up with a Christmas gloss. All the usual rides and a few extra attractions. Madrid does not get much snow but here you can see Santa Claus with (fake) snow. The festive air is promoted with music and the park puts on a firework show and a parade.
City Tour on the Navibus
Madrid is all lit up for Christmas. The best way to see all the lights is to take a city bus tour. Pick up and drop off at Calle Serrano. It is a circular tour. This stop is positioned between Jorge Juan and Goya.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
Most places will be closed as the locals enjoy the holiday with their families. You will still be able to eat out as some restaurants and bars stay open. In Madrid, the celebratory feast will involve seafood and Cava. If you wish to attend the Midnight Mass on 24th December all the main Churches are open to visitors.
New Year’s Eve
A huge celebration that draws the crowds into Puerto del Sol, the main square. While the ancient clock chimes out at midnight it is traditional to eat exactly 12 grapes. It is said that this will bring you good fortune in the coming year. Then the corks pop and you can enjoy a glass of cava while the fireworks fill the night sky in a dazzling display.