Spending the holidays in Madrid this year? Even if you won’t be home for Christmas, you can the magic of the season all around this beautiful city.

Christmas Light Displays

The lights, the food, the shopping. Wander around Madrid in December, and you’ll see all the barrios (neighborhoods) decked out in lights and holiday spirit. Artists the world design light displays for all of Madrid to enjoy. The lights are generally on daily from 18:00 to 23:00 (extended hours on Christmas and New Year’s Eve).

12 Grapes

Grab your 12 grapes and head to the Puerta del Sol to eat them when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve. This Spanish tradition is about attracting good fortune throughout the year (12 grapes, 12 months)

Bus Tours

If you want to make sure you see all of the amazing light displays in the city, take Madrid’s evening bus tour. The tour starts at Plaza Colon, lasts under an hour, and tickets are cheap. And with the double-decker bus, you’ll be able to see it all.

So Much Food

Christmas Eve is the big night for feasting in Spain. Día de los Reyes Magos (Three Kings Day) on Jan. 6 is another feasting day. Throughout the Christmas season, sweet treats are popular with just about everyone. Traditional foods and desserts are a wonderful way to bring family recipes into the celebration.

Christmas Markets

Peruse the many Christmas markets that are held in the main squares in Madrid’s center. Food, lights, art, gifts, and fun fill the markets every day of the week during December, and some go into January.

Nativity Scene Exhibitions

In a mainly Catholic country like Spain, Christmas is more than a time of presents. It’s a religious holiday through and through. The season is truly about the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. Around the city you will find depictions of the nativity scenes.

Christmas Lottery

The only gamble you’ll take during your trip to Madrid is through the Christmas lottery. The drawing takes place each year on Dec. 22, but tickets for El Gordo are sold beginning in July. It’s one of the biggest lotteries in the world and is the second oldest. Good luck!

Ice Skating

Ice skating is a winter activity many people love. There are indoor and outdoor ice rinks to choose from, such as Plaza la Luna and Palacio de Hielo.