One of the first signals that the Holidays have arrived has got to be the lighting up of the streets. The Christmas lights come on, and Madrid shines brightly. The capital is adorned with thousands of colorful lights and a contagious, festive spirit runs through its neighborhoods. Come along with us as we visit the most important places to view the Christmas lighting in Madrid.
The Christmas Lights of Madrid
From the tradition emerging in Germany in the 18th century of placing candles in Christmas trees to light them up, and “fairy lights” of Victorian England, to the first tree lit with electricity in New York, lighted decorations have played an important role in the holiday season for generations.
Streets, squares and buildings bathed in light bring a special nocturnal beauty to our cities, attracting tourists and filling up with amazed onlookers, standing before this fleeting exhibition alive with color.
As reported in newspaper headlines in the 1960s, with electric lighting recently introduced to city streets, “At Night, the Sun Rises in Callao”. Not just in this emblematic square, starting Friday the 22nd of November night lights up in the center of the city, from the neighborhood of Salamanca to parts of the Madrid River, the Manzanares. Here you can read more about the Madrid Christmas lights street by street.
This year various locations will also feature new lighting designs alluding to more traditional motifs. Brightly lit nativity scenes will adorn the Puerta de Alcalá, Puerta de Toledo, Príncipe Pío station, the viaduct of Calle Segovia and the entryways to Plaza Mayor.
But what would Christmas be without its spectacular illuminated pine trees? A city that’s known for its friendly nature, Madrid gathers locals and visitors around its trees created by prominent figures in fashion, design and architecture.
The Christmas tree in Madrid with the most visitors would have to be the one located in Puerta del Sol. The traditional scenes that repeat year in and year out are many, hundreds of people taking selfies in the square and inevitably capturing in the background the line forming to buy lottery tickets, and the shoppers weighed down with bags filled with gifts, and the characters which are always found in touristic epicenters.
But if you’re not too keen on hectic crowds, you can also enjoy the brightly lit trees in other places like Atocha, Arturo Soria, Madrid Río (River), Paseo del Prado, la Plaza del Cardenal Cisneros, Plaza Castilla and Plaza de Oriente.
New this year, a light and sound show is paired with an enormous Christmas ornament 12 meters (nearly 40 feet) in diameter and located next to the Metropolis building, inhabiting one of the most iconic views of Madrid and now giving us even more reason to visit and appreciate it. You can enjoy three showtimes at 18:30 (6:30PM), 20 (8PM) and 21:30 (9:30PM).
Perhaps you’re feeling overwhelmed by the options to view all of the holiday décor and Madrid Christmas lights. You’ve got a comfortable and fun alternative, hop on the Madrid Christmas bus.
Madrid Christmas Bus
Better known amongst users as the Madrid Christmas Lights Bus or Naviluz (from Spanish navidad, Christmas and luz, light), offers kids and adults a tour of the most emblematic locations to enjoy the Christmas lights in the capital.
The bus runs every day of the week starting at 18:00 (6PM) from the 29th of November until the 6th of January. Tour the Salamanca district, Gran Vía and Calle Alcalá. It’s a great plan for the whole family, where you can all enjoy the ornamental lighting of garlands, string lights, nativity scenes and trees, an essential part of the annual Christmas celebration. Tickets are available on the official website.
The Lighting of the Royal Botanical Garden
This Christmas, can you imagine walking through an enchanted forest? Make this dream a reality in the Botanical Garden with its Christmas lights.
The lights of the Royal Botanical Garden is a highly anticipated new exhibition. With great popularity in Germany and England, the Christmas Garden lands in Madrid to turn the Botanical Garden of Madrid into a fairy tale where you become the star.
With a path of 1.5 km (almost a mile), the lush greenery of the Christmas garden is enhanced by elegant lighting, sound, fairy tale characters and classic architecture. The paths are filled with magic, tranquility and romanticism to give you a break in the middle of this busy city. You can buy your tickets for the Christmas Garden here.
The Christmas lighting of Madrid can be enjoyed every day starting the 22nd of November until the 6th of January from 18:00 (6PM) to 23:00 (11PM); and on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and the eve of holidays until 24:00 (12AM midnight). We’d also recommend a hot chocolate to warm you up on your tour of the Christmas lights. Don’t forget to check out the Christmas markets like the one in Plaza Mayor, or the traditional Nativity scenes in the Casa de Correos (Royal House of the Post Office, in Sol), the Royal Palace or the Cibeles Palace, or maybe you’d like to skate on one of the ice rinks located throughout the city. For the more adventurous types, how about a 10K run like the San Silvestre? Christmas in Madrid awaits you.