The elegant architecture, the history, the vibrant flamenco, the late-night tapas—Madrid's energy is addictive. Sprinkle in a few days of Fiesta de San Isidro, and you have a Spanish adventure you’ll never forget.
Whether you’re starting your adventure in the lively Spanish capital or you’ve ended up in Barcelona after following your tastebuds through Spain and Portugal, why not combine your Intrepid trip with Fiesta de San Isidro – Madrid’s largest festival – to celebrate the city's culture, both old and new. Join locals on a pilgrimage to the Hermitage of San Isidro, watch Madrileños dance the chotis in traditional costumes, and party the night away at open-air street concerts in Plaza de las Vistillas. If you thought Madrid could party, just wait until you experience Fiesta de San Isidro.
What is the San Isidro festival?
Fiesta de San Isidro is a Catholic festival to honour San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of Madrid. San Isidro was a farm labourer who lived in Madrid in the 12th-century, but it's also believed he was a miracle worker, particularly those related to water. One of the most famous miracles he performed was when he saved his son from a well by asking God to fill it with water so he could float to the top.
Over the centuries, Fiesta de San Isidro has evolved to become an all-encompassing celebration of Madrid’s traditional and modern culture, from the stories of San Isidro's life to live folk music to delicious street food.
How is the San Isidro festival celebrated?
Fiesta de San Isidro is celebrated on and around 15 May. This year, it will be celebrated between 6-15 May. The main event is the Feast Day of San Isidro when throngs of locals and tourists go on a pilgrimage to Pradera de San Isidro (San Isidoro’s Meadow) where the saint installed a miraculous fountain. It's believed that drinking the holy water from the fountain can answer your prayers and bring good luck. Afterwards, families and friends gather in the meadow to listen to music, dance and enjoy picnics. Traditional foods include rosquillas (sugar doughnuts), entresijos (lamb mesentery), gallinejas (fried lamb intestines) and limonada.
You’ll also see Madrileños (local people from Madrid) dressed in traditional costumes – known as the ‘chulapos’ and ‘chulapas’ – taking to the streets, parks and squares to dance the chotis, a traditional 19th-century folk dance that involves two partners taking turns to spin around each other. We get dizzy just thinking about it, but it’s really beautiful to watch.
Madrileños know how to have a good time, and the days leading up to Feast Day are jam-packed with parades, open-air concerts, street performers, dancing, live music and fairs. The festivities spill into all corners of the city and you'll stumble into pop-up bars (known as 'chiringuitos') and street parties where you can spend a whole day (and night) eating, drinking and having fun with your new amigos. Concerts, shows and plays are held in iconic places like Plaza de las Vistillas, Plaza de San Andrés, Puente de Segovia and Plaza Mayor. The icing on the cake (or should we say, the rosquilla) is the spectacular firework display in Pradera de San Isidro. It's safe to say this is one of the best times to be in Madrid.
Highlights of Fiesta de San Isidro
Fiesta de San Isidro FAQs
Trips on or before 31 December 2022
If your Intrepid trip starts on or before 31 December 2022, you must provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19.
If you are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons, you may apply for an exemption. Exemptions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. To apply, you must provide a medical certificate from a medical professional.
Children under 18 are exempt. Children aged between 5 and 17 years old must provide proof of either vaccination, recovery or a negative COVID-19 test.
Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards
From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travellers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises).
However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travellers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.
Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.
Fiesta de San Isidro is celebrated on or around 15 May every year. In 2022, the festival will be celebrated on 6-15 May 2022.
Fiesta de San Isidro is a completely free event put on by the City of Madrid. You’ll need to buy your own food and drinks, but all concerts, shows and parades are free to attend.
The weather in Madrid in May is comfortable with average highs of 22°C and lows of 11°C. Madrid shines even more brightly during Fiesta de San Isidro and you’ll be doing lots of walking as you go to various events around the city. A comfy pair of shoes is a must, as well as a day bag, t-shirts, shorts, long pants and a couple of smart casual outfits in case you wanted to go to a restaurant or party in the evening. It's also worth bringing a lightweight waterproof jacket in case it rains.
Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. We’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.