Sights, sounds and smells of San Isidro 2016
Madrid’s top festival for their patron saint!
Spain is known for its fiestas and San Isidro festival is celebrated each year across the city of Madrid, on the weekend closest to the 15th of May. Madrilenos celebrate San Isidro, the patron saint of farmers as well as Madrid, by dressing in traditional attire, and taking to the streets all across the city for parades, performances, fireworks, music and so much more.
If you’re heading to San Isidro, the life of the party is at La Pradera de San Isidro, a park to the South West of the city centre, however just about every Barrio in Madrid has events to celebrate.
The Best of La Pradera de San Isidro
¡Los gigantes y cabezudos!
Or the giants and big heads! Are a highlight of the festival as they parade through the crowds gathered at la Pradera. Representing the king and queen, the bullfighter and bull, the army and also the people of Madrid, the farmer and his wife, they stand proud above the crowds stopping every few hundred metres to perform and dance to the band’s music. Fighting among the crowds people reach out to touch them, a good luck tradition.
Sweet, sugary and warm, the best kind of festival food. Rosquillas are a kind of donut but come with a lot of different options! The traditonal tastes being tontas, which is the sugar coated kind and listas, which are iced in sticky sweet icing in any flavour imaginable.
Chupalos and Chupala are the traditional names for the costumes men and women wear during the festival. White shirts and waistcoats for the gentlemen, finished off with a Palpusa, the tradtional checkered flat cap. While the women wear simple but beautiful flared dresses accompanied by silk shawls and white headscarves adorned with a red or white flower.
A dance originally introduced to Madrid at the Royal Palace in 1850, under the name the German Polka. Now it is seen danced throughout Madrid during San Isidro, not just in performances but by couples in the streets. It is recognized by the face to face hold and the stillness of the gentlemen,who pivots on the spot as his partner circles round him.
Performances of other traditional dances are also performed by local dance groups of all ages. The Plaza Mayor and La Pradera both host performances with an array of dance styles including those with a flamenco influence. Hearing the furious flutter of castanets accompanied by the Spanish guitar is a must for any Spanish festival goer.
No festival would be complete without music! With stages set up in both the Plaza Mayor and la Pradera as well as nights of Hip Hop and Electronica at La Vistillas, there is an option for every ear. 2016 played host to a range of genres and performers including: Manu Chao, Obús, Nick Jonas, Dead Bronco, Nacho Vegas, Joe Crepusculo, Cycle, Lichis.
I personally heard the headlining acts for Sunday night at San Isidro: Obús, Madrid’s leading heavy metal band of the 80’s and Dead Bronco country rockers visiting from the USA. Both gave an incredible show, the Obus drummer finished the set by playing a stepladder! Certainly a first for me.
So that was a little glimpse of San Isidro, Madrid’s patron festival. If you missed it this year don’t worry, the next festival to hit Madrid this summer is Los Veranos de Villa, an arts festival running throughout June until September. But there are plenty across Spain all year!
Keep checking back for more Madrid blogging!