A vibrant cultural life, with offerings that span the arts and suit a whole range of audiences, is one of the characteristics that makes Madrid a permanent magnet for visitors from around the world. Art and music take the lead, but Madrid is also a city where theatre, dance, literature, architecture, media arts and fashion have a constant front row presence. Not to mention the explosion of fun and activities associated with the traditional fiestas, such as San Isidro, San Antonio de la Florida and La Paloma.
Rendezvous with art
Besides the three major museums that make up the golden mile of world art (the Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofia), the Spanish capital offers all kinds of exhibitions and important art events all year round. To the permanent collections and temporary exhibits housed in these three first class centres, we must add the offerings of other major art centres, including Caixa Forum Madrid (also to be found in the Paseo del Prado), the Biblioteca Nacional, the Circulo de Bellas Artes and the Juan March Foundation. There are also more than 150 art showrooms located throughout the city; the main galleries in the capital are situated in the Salamanca district, mostly around the Calle Serrano. In February, the city plays host to ARCO, the big international contemporary art fair, and Art Madrid.
Classical, flamenco and jazz
Live music, with the constant celebration of concerts of all types, is one of the great attractions of the capital of Spain, whose evenings and nights buzz with sounds from around the world. Three major events for lovers of classical music: opera at the Teatro Real, classical music at the National Auditorium, and zarzuela (Spanish operetta) and popular concerts at the Teatro de la Zarzuela. For jazz lovers, besides all the regular options available every day at clubs and bars around the capital, there are some unmissable dates, including the Madrid International Jazz Festival (November) and the programme offered throughout the academic year by the Colegio Mayor San Juan Evangelista. As an international showcase of Spain, Madrid is also the undisputed capital of flamenco: it is the place to enjoy the intimate atmosphere of the tablaos as well as major annual events including the Caja Madrid Flamenco Festival (January and February), San Juan Evangelista's Festival de Tarantos (April) and Suma Flamenca (May).
Theatre, dance and musicals
Like other major European capitals, in recent years Madrid has added an interesting list of musicals to its traditional dance and theatre programme. The programme is spread throughout the year, although April is the month in which the prestigious Madrid Festival of Dance is held.
Los Veranos de la Villa
The stages and settings for the "Summers in the City", held in July and August, include the central courtyard of the Conde Duque Barracks, the Sabatini Gardens, theatres such as the Fernan Gomez, Español and Circo Price, the Matadero (the old slaughterhouse, now converted into a thriving arts centre) as well as the streets and squares of the city. The annual festival brings to the city major international stars of music, drama and dance, with activities and events for the long summer nights that last right through till the end of the season.
Theatre, dance, music and circus are the protagonists of the annual Madrid Autumn Festival, a major international cultural prgramme. During October and November, the Spanish capital dons its party gear to host some of the most important events on the international scene.
City of fashion
The Spanish capital has growing commitment to the world of fashion and design. With two major events each, La Pasarela Cibeles (February and September) and the International Fashion Show (February and July) are the main showcases for national and international fashion in Madrid.
Nights at the Hippodrome
Night racing at the Zarzuela Hippodrome, held on Thursdays in June, July and September, is not just a great sporting event within the world of racing; perhaps more than that, it is a social event that serves as a meeting place and showcase for the beautiful people of the city and the world. You can bet on that.
Like beads strung on a never-ending thread, the fiestas in Madrid pass from neighbourhood to neighbourhood through the year. The most impressive are the San Isidro celebrations, which centre on the saint's day on May 15th, but there are many others: San Cayetano, San Lorenzo and la Paloma, which all take place in the traditional heart of the city, are held in the first half of August. In particular, the Verbena de la Paloma remains a classic with dance, music and partying in the streets well into the night.
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