Christmas Lights in Madrid 2012

Madrid 2012 Christmas lights

Christmas traditions can be hard to keep when living far away from friends and family. Sure, you can watch your family decorate the tree and bake cookies through Skype, but it’ll never be the same (and will probably only make you feel worse and really jealous of the cookies…). That’s why I try my best to create new traditions here in Spain. Whether it’s something simple like going to the park on Sundays, or something more specific, like hosting a Christmas cookie swap in December, celebrating new traditions can definitely keep the holiday blues at bay.

Last year Ale and I started a Christmas tradition that I love, taking a long walk around the city in attempt to see most of Madrid’s Christmas lights. Last year we still barely knew our way around without a map, but we somehow wound up taking a wonderful route. You can find it here: Christmas Lights in Madrid 2011.

This year I am proud to say that no maps were needed, and we actually ended up making our route into a mini food tour– fitting based on this year’s business venture! We started our walk from our neighborhood near Las Ventas. If you are going to do the same, I warn you, we walked a lot! But it was refreshing to be outdoors, bundled up against the cold. And if it’s too much, you can always try last year’s route.

The 2012 Christmas lights in Madrid were actually really similar to last year’s lights. This was expected, as Spain is in no position to be spending money on new lights. Nevertheless, the lights looked great and some streets had either switched lights with another, or used lights from other years (not only 2011).

Despite the budget restrictions the city looks great, and I encourage anyone passing through to be sure to take a look. The lights turn on around 6:00 p.m. and will be up until January 6th.

Spanish Sabores Walking (& Eating) Tour

2012 Christmas Lights in Madrid

Plaza de Toros Las Ventas Madrid

We started our walk at Las Ventas, the Plaza de Toros (bull ring) in Madrid. The building is incredibly beautiful, despite your feelings about what goes on inside. I’d never walked around the entire ring at night, so it was a nice start to the tour.

Madrid Las Ventas Bullring

As we made our way down Calle Alcalá, we couldn’t resist stopping for some of Madrid’s winter street food on the way. We shared some roasted chestnuts, a chocolate filled churro, and stopped at a bakery for some homemade marzipan– one of the season’s best Christmas sweets.

churros stand in Madrid
A seasonal Churrería on Calle Alcalá.

Chocolate filled churros

chestnut stand madrid

We arrived to Barrio Salamanca and began to weave our way through the streets. While we missed some of the displays here– we were getting tired– we saw the lights on Calle Goya and Calle Serrano, as well as some others I don’t remember at the moment!

Barrio Salamanca luces de navidad

Calle Serrano luces de navidad

Madrid luces de Navidad

Madrid 2012 luces de navidad

Madrid Christmas Lights Bus
If you don’t want to walk, take the Christmas Lights bus!

Barrio salamanca luces

Barrio de Salamanca estrellas navidad

Barrio Salamanca luces navidad 2012

Finally, we arrive at La Puerta de Alcalá, getting closer to the center. The gate was decorated the same way as last year, classically beautiful.

La puerta de Alcala Luces de navidad Madrid

We looped onto Avenida de la Castellana for a moment, as it doesn’t have very impressive lights but they are still worth a quick look.

La Castellana lights

Finally, we reached the beautiful Cibeles plaza. The fountain was illuminated in a red light, as was the old palace behind it.

Cibeles fountain Madrid Christmas

Palace plaza de Cibeles Madrid Christmas lights

We continued walking down Calle Alcalá, determined to make it to Sol before freezing. On the way we admired the lights (which hadn’t changed from last year). Nonetheless, the impressive architecture of the old Spanish banks is always fun to see.

Calle Alcalá Madrid

Finally, we made it to La Puerta del Sol, where we stopped in La Mallorquina for a hot empanada and a look at the Christmas sweets.

turrones La Mallorquina Madrid

Once we’d warmed up a bit, we headed out to photograph the plaza, which is home to a fun bright green Christmas tree.

Arbol de Navidad Sol Madrid

Sol Madrid luces de navidad

Luces Sol Madrid 2012

Puerta del Sol Navidad

After strolling around Sol, we needed to make a stop at the nearby Plaza Mayor Christmas market. While we doubted we would be buying anything, it is a must stop place when admiring Madrid’s Christmas spirit.

Old singing clock
I saw the old clock by the Plaza Mayor perform for the first time!

Magical Plaza Mayor Christmas lights

Carousel Plaza Mayor

Santa vs Reyes Magos
The Three Wise Men or Santa Claus– who will get into the house first?
Christmas wreaths Plaza Mayor Madrid
Beautiful Christmas plants are for sale at Madrid’s Plaza Mayor.
Adornos de Navidad Plaza Mayor Madrid
Typical Christmas ornaments and Nativity Scene figurines in the Plaza Mayor.

Lastly, we made our way to Gran Vía, where we caught the metro home. Our last display was Vodafone’s Christmas tree adorning the street, which isn’t my favorite but is certainly festive.

Madrid 2012 Christmas lights

Vodafone Christmas tree Madrid

What do you think, does Madrid turn on a nice lights display? Where have you seen your favorite Christmas lights?

Comments

  1. Thanks for all the lovely pictures, Lauren, those chorros look insanely delicious, and the Christmas lights are nice, too, haha (the chorros got my attention more than anything, as you can tell).

    Cheers,
    Andrew

  2. These are so pretty! I love how they decorated the Puerta de Alcalá. Barcelona’s got similar lights up too right now, and they add such a fun touch to the city.

  3. What a great city lights tour and so many amazing photos!
    Glad you’re creating new holiday traditions. I’m finding just knowing the holiday spirit is in the air has caught me buy surprise with holiday blues away from family.

    Vitoria has it’s lights on but defnitely not as impressive as Madrid or BCN!

  4. I lived in Madrid for two years and I remember the Christmas lights. 🙂 I lived on Alberto Aguilera last year, not far from the Corte Ingles which had a huge display of lights mimicking icicles, it was so beautiful! I remember it was one of the things that surprised me so much about the city the first year I lived there. I nearly feel Madrid has more Christmas decorations than New York City (which I live close to).

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