Your Guide To Exploring Madrid’s Expansive Art Scene

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It’s no secret that Madrid is famous for having some of the most impressive art in the world. Besides the acclaimed museums the city is known for, there’s also an abundance of lesser-known spots to see some truly inspirational paintings, drawings, prints, architecture, photography, sculptures, street art and more. Here’s your go-to guide to exploring Madrid’s multifaceted art scene.

Photo of La Guernica painting from Wikipedia.

The art triangle: a Madrid must-see

No visit to Madrid is complete without wandering through its three most famous museums, conveniently located in a triangle in the heart of the city center: the Museo del Prado, where you’ll spot famous works by Diego Velázquez and Francisco Goya, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, home of Picasso’s masterpiece Guernica, and the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, which houses a comprehensive collection featuring the likes of Claude Monet, Jackson Pollock and more.

Hoping to see it all? Sign up for a curated Fine Arts Tour from Insider’s Madrid, guiding you through your choice of museums (and/or galleries) in Madrid.

Photo by Museo del Prado.

Go to ARCOmadrid at IFEMA

You’ll be impressed with how many well-known modern artists select this festival to unveil their work. ARCOmadrid, the city’s largest COntemporary ARt festival takes place annually at IFEMA, the city’s trade fair venue. ARCO this year is February 21st – 25th. See ‘historical avant-garde, the contemporary classics, and modern art. The galleries display painting, sculpture, installations, photography, video, new media, drawing, and etching.’ IFEMA also hosts other various art events throughout the year, like FERIARTE, the art and antique festival. This year, IFEMA will also be hosting ARCOLisboa and Estampa, another contemporary art fair. Stay tuned.

Museums with a more personal touch

Tucked away in local neighborhoods of Madrid, more personal museums abound. Start by exploring work by the great luminist, Joaquín Sorolla. The Museo Sorolla is set in the artist’s private home and  showcases work throughout his career, all while keeping in the style of his home when he and his family once lived there. The gardens are modeled on the Alhambra Palace’s ornate Generalife gardens. Set in the Tribunal area of Madrid near Malasaña and Alonso Martínez, the Museo de Romanticismo goes beyond just paintings with furniture, stamps, drawings, clothing garments and more from Spain’s Romanticism period. Set in the former residence and magnificent mansion house, the Museo Cerralbo houses the collection art, furniture and objects belonging to the house’s former owner, the 17th Marquis of Cerralbo.

Photo by Museo de Romanticismo.

From meat to art

The Matadero is one of the most eclectic spots in Madrid to experience art and culture. A former slaughterhouse dating back to 1911, the space is now dedicated to different art forms like cinema, theater, music, books, contemporary design and more. You could spend a couple hours here — or an entire vacation soaking up all the cultural activities and events offered.

Hit the streets 

Madrid’s boulevards and streets feature nonstop architectural wonders, but there’s also literal art too. Street art is most prevalent in the bohemian, hip neighborhoods of Lavapiés and Malasaña. You can spot some special graffiti simply walking around, or for several murals in one spot, stroll past the Tabacalera in Lavapiés.

Colombian artist Fernando Botero also has a few of his oversized masterpieces scattered around the city and the Parque de Juan Carlos I offers a day filled with blooming trees and flowers, plus some unique abstract sculptures.

Photo of the walls of the Tabacalera by Guillermo de la Madrid and Madrid Street Art Project.

Galleries galore

Museums aren’t the only way to experience art in Madrid. In fact, the city is full of galleries, some of the most interesting located near the Reina Sofía on the street Doctor Forquet. Slowly but surely this street is becoming a mecca for art aficionados and the gallery count is 15 and growing. If this seems overwhelming, don’t worry — Insider’s Madrid can create a special gallery tour just for you, guiding you alongside curator, art appraiser and writer Cristina Anglada.

Check out the calendar

Many exhibition spaces in Madrid are dedicated to showcasing temporary art, such as the Fundación Mapfre, Fundación Canal or the Espacio Fundación Telefónica. Each of these halls changes exhibits frequently, showcasing photography, fashion, paintings, drawings, sculptures and more from new and emerging artists to famous, well-known big timers. Make sure to see what’s on during your visit to Madrid.

Photo of the previous Houdini exhibit by the Fundación Telefónica.

Remember, Insider’s Madrid would be happy to curate any specific art tour you’d like, guiding you through your desired combination of museums, galleries, art fairs, exhibitions and more. For more information or to personalize a tour, contact us at info@insidersmadrid.com.

6 Reasons Why You Need To Check Out Spain’s Up & Coming Fashion Scene

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Milan, Paris, Tokyo and New York may come to mind when you think about fashionable destinations around the world. But we have a little secret: Spain is that up & coming fashion haven you need to explore. Sure, it’s famous for tapas, wine, bullfighting and siestas, but the fashion scene, which has been growing immensely over the past several years, is now on everyone’s radar. Here’s why:

Fashion Weeks Galore

Spain has several fashion weeks (even in smaller cities like Valencia or the island of Ibiza), the most famous being Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Madrid which occurs twice per year. This particular week has a lineup of talented Spanish designers such as Andrés Sarda, Juana Martin, Roberto Torretta and many more. The EGO portion showcases young and emerging designers — Spain is full of youthful creativity. BCN 080, also a biannual event, is Barcelona’s fashion week, home to the world-famous brand Custo BCN. Make sure to check out the catwalks, as these events are on deck for January and February.

Capes designed by Devota y Lomba and Teresa Helbig walk the Madrid runways. © IFEMA.

Shop ‘Til You Drop

Spain is home to some seriously trendy boutiques, especially in Madrid. If you’re hoping to experience a little bit of the city’s special shopping scene, sign up for a Shopping Tour with Insider’s Madrid. You’ll discover items like merino wool, leather goods (even see items made in their workshops), ceramics, gourmet food products and more. Make sure to leave some space in your suitcase!

If you want to go a step further and really get up close and personal with Spain’s impressive textile and fashion industry, sign up for a Corazon Textiles, Food and Fashion Tour, which includes going behind the scenes at famous brand Loewe while also checking out handmade cashmere items made in small villages, seeing locally-made designs at family-run workshops and visiting world-renowned fashion museums.

A glimpse of Madrid’s vintage shopping seen at The 2nd Room. © The 2nd Room

Flamenco is Fashion

Spanish fashion has a variety of unique style influences and one of these is flamenco. Flamenco isn’t just a genre of music or dance, for some, it’s a lifestyle. Seville even houses the We Love Flamenco fashion week, a six-day event dedicated to flamenco and it’s many colors, shapes and styles. This season, which happens to be in January this year, has over 48 different fashion shows, so get ready for ruffles.

Bold and red are two common trends spotted during flamenco fashion shows © We Love Flamenco Facebook page

Famous Designers

The names Adolfo Dominguez, Hannibal Laguna, Roberto Verino, Balenciaga or Jesus Del Pozo may ring a bell. Did you know these are all Spanish fashion designers? It’s true – some of the biggest names in fashion hail from Spain, so make sure to check out their boutiques and designs when visiting.

Roberto Verino floral prints on the Madrid catwalk © Ifema

Blushing Brides

Both Madrid and Barcelona also have Bridal Fashion Weeks, so if you’re planning on tying the knot, you can check out all the dress and accessories trends coming this April. You may spot something ideal for your coming nuptials. In fact, the aforementioned Corazon Textiles, Food and Fashion Tour takes you behind the scenes with wedding dress designer Isabel Zapardiez (whose designs walk the Barcelona Bridal Week catwalks) and even give you a wedding dress fitting.

A wedding dress at the 2017 edition of Barcelona Fashion Week by designer Immculada Garcia. © Barcelona Fashion Week.

Made in Spain

Check out your tag — and if it says ‘Made in China,’ it’s time to head to Spain, because there are plenty of handcrafted goods created right here in Spain. Those summery shoes everyone wears are called espadrilles and are decidedly Spanish. Seseña is a famous brand of capes made here in España — Hilary Clinton is a fan of the brand, and Pablo Picasso was actually buried in one of these capes. Many small boutiques make fascinators, or tocados, which are hair pieces artfully crafted for your most important special occasion. Alicante is famous for its leather industry which makes soft and supple handbags and shoes. Hand-crafted jewelry can be found all over the country too.

Handmade jewelry by Helena Rohner in Spain. © Helena Rohner

Here’s Why 2018 Is The Year To Visit Madrid, Spain

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Madrid has always been an exciting city to explore. Thanks to its nuanced architecture, world-famous art museums, vibrant nightlife scene and a never-ending supply of tapas and vino, it’s always been a top travel destination (and likely always will be). But if you haven’t been yet — or even if you have — 2018 is the year to visit.

Madrid is the heart of Spain. © Luis Garcia/ Wikipedia.
Madrid is the heart of Spain. © Luis Garcia/ Wikipedia.

Intrigued? Read on to find out why now is the time to go:

A Pedestrian-Friendly, Pollution-Free Madrid is in the Works

Madrid’s current mayor Manuela Carmena, has diligently worked to increase the number of bike lanes and trees-planting around the city this past year. By the start of 2018, circulation around the city center by car will be limited, helping to maintain better air quality and encourage people to bike and walk instead. Calle de Gran Vía, one of the Madrid’s most famous streets, will have more lanes accessible to pedestrians and car traffic will be restricted.

Calle Gran Vía will such much less traffic in 2018. © Lori Zaino.
Calle Gran Vía will such much less traffic in 2018. © Lori Zaino.

300 Days of Sunshine in 2018

Okay, you’ve got us, this isn’t a new development for 2018. It’s sunny 300 days out of every year in Madrid, making it Europe’s sunniest capital. But why not take advantage and walk the city under the warm rays?

The sun shines down on Madrid's Puerta de Alcalá monument. © Lori Zaino
The sun shines down on Madrid’s Puerta de Alcalá monument. © Lori Zaino

Fly to Madrid from Around the World

Arrival to Madrid has never been easier. Madrid’s Barajas Airport is already well-connected to cities around the world such as New York, Los Angeles, Miami, London, Paris, Rome, Dublin, Dubai, Bangkok, Bogotá, Mexico City and many more. Starting in 2018, though, there will some new routes launched. Air Europa will fly nonstop to Guayaquil, Iberia will operate a nonstop flight to San Francisco from April to September and Ryanair will be flying from Madrid to five new destinations: Bari, Frankfurt, Glasglow, Poznan and Prague, bring the total destination count to 55 different cities from Madrid.

Iberia will soon connect San Francisco directly to Madrid. © Micha Sender / Wikipedia.
Iberia will soon connect San Francisco directly to Madrid. © Micha Sender / Wikipedia.

Sample all Madrid’s Tastiest Tapas

The Spanish capital is having a moment when it comes to food. With an influx of trendy new food markets, international restaurants and an increase in travelers and tourists coming to Madrid specifically to experience cuisine. If you want to eat, 2018 is the year to do it. And did you know Madrid is home to the world’s oldest restaurant, Botín? Why not try one of Insider Madrid’s specialized food tours, like the Botín Experience or the Gourmet Tapas and Wine Tour to hear (and taste) all the hidden secrets about Madrid’s food scene.

Typical Spanish snacks. © Escarabajo Amarillo / Madrid Tourism.
Typical Spanish snacks. © Escarabajo Amarillo / Madrid Tourism.

Enjoy the Arts

In your hoping to experience a more creative side of Madrid, 2018’s cultural offerings come in many forms beyond the golden triangle of museums (the Prado, the Reina Sofía and the Thyssen-Bornemisza). Musical events such concerts from Bruno Mars and Pearl Jam and Broadways’s Lion King are on the agenda. Special exhibitions like Harry PotterManolo BlahnikAuschwitz and art from Fortuny will pass through the city in 2018.

Besides all of the famous works by Goya, 2018 will bring art, music and other cultural events and festivals to Madrid. © Museo del Prado.
Besides all of the famous works by Goya, 2018 will bring art, music and other cultural events and festivals to Madrid. © Museo del Prado.

7 Beautiful Cities in Spain You Have To Visit

7 Beautiful Cities in Spain You Have To Visit
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Picturesque beaches, towering mountains, rolling vineyards and some of the most elaborate architecture in the world. All of these wonders and more can be found in the country of Spain. Here’s a list seven beautiful Spanish destinations you absolutely have to visit at least once in your lifetime.

Madrid

Perhaps we’re biased, but Madrid, often ignored in lieu of cosmopolitan Barcelona, has something for any style of traveler, whether it be tapas, flamenco, nightlife, wine, architecture, history, fashion or major sporting events. With its quaint, cobblestone streets leading to grandiose squares like the Plaza Mayor or the Plaza Cibeles, you’ll be in awe just roaming around. Plus, Madrileños are passionate about all things edible, so foodies can bask in numerous options for international and Spanish cuisine, food markets and food tours. Of course, we recommend doing one (or more) of the many different food experiences and tailored tours by Insider’s Madrid, like the gourmet tapas tour or a paella and sangria class.

Plaza de la Villa in Madrid. © Madrid Destino Cultura Turismo y Negocio

San Sebastián

San Sebastián, located in the Basque country is known for its famous seashell-shaped beach, La Concha. Beloved for its fancy pinxtos (these are similar to tapas and can sometimes be found “pinched” with a stick and placed on a baguette slice) dining scene and large number of Michelin-star restaurants, it’s also the last stop on the specialized Textile, Food and Fashion Tour led by Corazón. The city is surrounded by rolling green hills and wild beaches, and the Sagrado Corazon de Jesus statue on top of Monte Urgull keeps watch day and night over the city.

An aerial view of San Sebastian. © Keta / Wikipedia

Bilbao

Also a stop on the  Textile, Food and Fashion Tour tour, the Guggenheim Bilbao is one of the most intriguing art museums in the world. Designed by Frank Gehry, visitors come from around the world to see both the curved stone, glass and titanium exterior overlooking the Nervión River as well as inside of the museum, which features masterpieces by artists such as Willem Kooning, Yves Klein, Andy Warhol and Antoni Tàpies.

The Guggenheim exterior in Bilbao. © VA / Wikipedia

Santiago de Compostela

The final stop on the famous pilgrimage Camino de Santiago, known as the Way of St. James in English, Santiago de Compostela is a welcome site for weary travelers — ones who’ve been trekking for days or even those just getting off a Ryanair flight. The city’s magnificent Romanesque cathedral (which later added on Gothic and Baroque touches), towers above the rest of the city and is said to be the burial place of St. James the Great. The entire historic city center is designated as an UNESCO World Heritage site, so grab your camera and spend the day wandering around.

The cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. © Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez / Wikipedia.

Ibiza

This island, part of the Balearic archipelago, is best known for its party scene, but what many don’t know is that the island’s many hidden coves known as calas and secret beaches are some of the most stunning in the world. This is an island made for exploring — so rent a car and start your adventure. We recommend Cala Lentrisca, which you’ll have to walk through a small pine forest when the road ends in Urbanizació Es Cubells.

A cala in Ibiza. © juantiagues / Flickr

Logroño

The gateway city to Spain’s famous Rioja wine region, this city was made for food and wine aficionados, just a short drive way from hundreds of vineyardsThe city is beautiful in a different way, which stems from its very special manner in which both visitors and locals alike can dine: specialty tapas along the famous Calle Laurel. The long, winding street is lined with tapas bars — small bar-style ‘restaurants’ where you’ll often spot more people standing at the bar or around wooden wine barrels that sitting, chattering over one another while sipping a local Rioja variety or beer and their favorite tapa.

Tapas (or pinxtos) along Calle Laurel. © jynus / Wikipedia

Cádiz

This Andalusian gem is one of Spain’s oldest continually inhabited cities, and its historic architecture mixed with its long stretches of sandy beaches that sparkle beneath the sunshine will ensure you never want to leave. The city boasts a few different cathedrals, an ancient Roman theater and an 18th-century watchtower. You’ll be able to see all these delights and more if you sign up for Corazon’s specialized New Year’s Eve Cádiz Tour.

Cádiz. © Anna & Michal / Flickr

7 Reasons To Visit Madrid Around The Holidays

7 Reasons To Visit Madrid Around The Holidays
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Wafts of hand-made candy spill out of Madrid’s pastelerías onto the cobblestone streets. Christmas carols can be heard playing as shoppers frantically search for the perfect gifts — it’s truly the most wonderful time of the year! The Spanish capital is the ideal place to soak in the holiday spirit with non-stop celebrations, decorations, culinary delights and more. Read on to find out all the reasons why you should visit Madrid this Christmas season.

The holidays season lasts forever

Spain typically celebrates the holidays for almost a full month and a half. This year, the holiday season in Madrid starts November 24th — that’s when thousands of sparkling lights and festive decorations will be switched on, illuminating the city of Madrid into a magical holiday paradise.

In between the Christmas and New Year’s festivities, Spain even celebrates its very own version of April Fool’s Day called Día de los Inocentes on December 28th, so beware, practical jokes may ensue. With the decor up in full force and so many different celebrations going on, you can’t help but join in on the holiday spirit all the way through January 6th, the Día de los Reyes Magos (King’s Day), celebrated with presents galore, special desserts and even a parade, but more on that later.

The holiday lights are on in full force. Image by Jose A. / Flickr.

See all the shiny lights

The aforementioned holiday lights are a reason in itself to visit Madrid and many people come from around the world to see these glittering decorations. Some of the most popular spots to see the illuminated holiday decor are Gran Vía street, the Plaza Mayor, the Puerta del Sol and Cibeles. Family travelers should take their kids to Cortylandia which is an interactive holiday playland for the little ones.

If a walking tour seems overwhelming, don’t worry, you can hop on the Naviluz for a ride. This double-decker bus, which actually celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, leaves from the Plaza de Colón and takes visitors on a 40-minute ride circling Madrid to see all the holiday cheer. More information and ticket purchase can be found here.

Here’s all the info you need about the Naviluz bus.

Besides the lights, a big part of Madrid’s Christmas decoration includes Belenes, which are Nativity scenes. Most families will have one of these set up in their homes next to the Christmas tree and there are several larger scenes set up around the city in spots like the Ayuntamiento de Cibeles, the Almudena cathedral, the Puerta del Sol and the Iglesia de San Gines.

Play (and hopefully win) the Spanish lottery

The Christmas lottery is a big deal in Spain and all the locals dream of winning El Gordo, which literally translates to “the fat one” — meaning a grand prize of €4,000,000. The typical way to participate is to go in on a ticket number with co-workers or friends where you’ll each pay €20 for a number and have a chance to snag El Gordo. Prepare to be guilted into purchasing a ticket (or a few) as Madrileños love to explain to you how you’ll feel when they all win and you don’t!

If you happen to spot a very long line of people around the Puerta de Sol, it’s likely to be the line for the Doña Manolita shopfront. This store is forever popular as it has sold the largest amount of winning tickets over the years, so try your luck there if you’re willing to wait in the queue. Make sure to watch local television on December 22nd, as the winning number are announced by enthusiastic pupils from the San Ildefonso school, chosen with the honour of actually singing the winning numbers.

There’s always a queue at Doña Manolita. Image by Barcex / Wikipedia.

Indulge that sweet tooth

The Spanish have a whole range of sweets they love to eat over the holidays, and Madrid is no exception. Marzipan and turrón (a type of nugget) are fan favorites, and polverónes are powdery treats made of ground almonds with a touch of cinnamon. Visitors should definitely try the sugary sweet roscón de reyes which is a special cake eaten to celebrate Three Kings Day. Hopefully you’ll discover the small figurine in your slice which will bring you luck, but not the dried fava bean — finding that means you’ll have to pay for next year’s cake!

Roscón de Reyes. Image by Tamorland / Wikipedia.

Shop til’ you drop

Each year, Black Friday becomes more and more popular in Madrid for shoppers on the hunt for holiday bargains, and this shopping spirit continues well into January. In fact, it’s not unlikely to see locals waiting until after the New Year to shop, because most gifts in Madrid are actually given on January 6th, the Día de los Reyes Magos. The night of the 5th January is when the three Wise Men arrive with presents, though with plenty of international influence, presents also come from Santa on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Rebajas, or the bi-annual sales usually start in early January, some as early as January 2nd, so get ready for bargains. Although Madrid isn’t known for its holiday markets, perusing the nativity scenes, ornaments and prank gifts found at the market in Plaza Mayor underneath the holiday lights is a must-do. There are also some smaller holiday markets in La Latina neighbourhood and the squares; Plaza Jacinto Benavente and Callao.

Lights shine over the Plaza Mayor holiday market. Image by Priit Tammets / Flickr.

Eat grapes on New Year’s Eve for a lucky 2018

New Year’s Eve is a happy occasion celebrated by partygoers gathering in the Puerta del Sol square to eat twelve grapes, one for each chime of the clock as it strikes twelve at midnight. Don’t miss sharing in this tradition as it’s supposed to bring you luck for the year ahead. The celebration has become so large that now the city does a rehearsal called the ‘pre-uvas,‘ or the pre-grapes celebration, usually the day before. It has become which is now just as popular as doing the same thing on December 31st. Keep in mind the underground metro won’t stop at Sol station around midnight on December 30th and 31st, so plan accordingly.

Eating 12 grapes on New Year’s Eve will bring you luck.

Celebrate the Kings Day with the locals

It’s clear this is an important day in Madrid for presents and cake, but Madrileños take it very seriously. The parade, affectionately known as the Cabalgata, occurs on the January 5th at 18:30 in Nuevos Ministerios, but you may want to head there or along the route earlier to secure the perfect spot. Expect to get a lot of candy tossed off the floats and see many smiling children, and don’t leave before the big fireworks display in Cibeles Plaza.

Enjoy the parade on January 5th in honor of King’s Day. Image by Madrid Tourism Bureau.

If you happen to be in Madrid over the holidays, consider Insider’s Madrid for a private food, shopping or flamenco tour — you’ll surely see many lights and decorations in the city along the way.

How The Spanish Celebrate New Year’s Eve: Grapes, Cava and Countdowns in Cádiz

How The Spanish Celebrate New Year’s Eve: Grapes, Cava and Countdowns in Cádiz
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If you’re wondering where to go for New Year’s Eve 2017-18, a holiday in Southern Spain is the perfect plan. With sunny skies shining down upon the historical city of Cádiz, you’ll have so many choices on how to spend your vacation: strolling along sandy shores, chowing down on some of the most delectable drinks and food or simply soaking in all the southern Spanish culture.

View of Cádiz City

For the ultimate New Year’s hosted holiday, consider the New Year’s Eve Corazon Tour to Cádiz, which offers the opportunity to experience some of the unique traditions the Andalusian locals take part in to celebrate New Year’s Eve. The holiday includes adventures beyond the city of Cádiz, like visiting the white Andalusian villages and the cities of Seville and Jerez de la Frontera. You’ll sample wine, visit some of the most prestigious sherry bodegas in the region, have lunch with a masterchef at his house, enjoy authentic flamenco with the locals, see the dancing Andalusian horses and enjoy New Year Spanish-style in one of the prettiest hill-top villages in Spain. After savoring long, leisurely Spanish lunches, there’ll be time for a walk on the beach too.

Here’s the Corazon list of New Year’s Eve traditions you just can’t miss out on:

A Grandiose Dinner

The locals typically spend the start of their New Year’s Eve having a large dinner with family or friends — those transparent tapitas of the Iberian acorn-fed ham, cured manchego and prawns on ice. But those are just appetizers! Then, onto the main course of roast lamb, the local retinto beef or fresh fish to follow. Dinner starts late, usually around 9, 10 or even 11 pm, so the party can go on late too!

Cava

Cava, the Spanish answer to champagne is brought out at every celebration so of course, New Year’s Eve is the perfect time to sip some. From the Penedés region of Spain, this refreshing sparkling wine is made with a combination of local grapes; macabeo, parellada and xarel lo are the most typical. In Cádiz, the cava drinking might start as a pre-dinner aperitif, and expect toasts during dinner, after dinner and following the midnight countdown. Once you’ve had your fill of cava, copas come next.

Spanish cava on New Year's Eve
Cava photo by cyclone bill/Flickr

Copas

A copa can mean a drink in general but in a later night context, it tends to refer to a long drink with a spirit and mixer. Typically, a copa has a healthy serving of alcohol with some wonderful giant Spanish ice cubes and your mixer of choice. By now it’s definitely time to start dancing!

Countdown with grapes for a lucky 2018

In Cádiz as in the rest of Spain, the midnight countdown is typically done to twelve chiming bells, and for each ding, plan to stuff a grape into your mouth. The first time around might mean that laughing gets in the way, but you should try to finish all 12 because it means you’ll have good luck for the rest of year. A hot tip is to make sure your grapes are seedless and small so they go down easier and faster. Some cities even hold a rehearsal before the big night just to make sure you are warmed up!

Eating grapes to celebrate New Year's Eve in Spain
Grapes on New Year’s Eve in Spain – photo from Jacinta Lluch Valero/Flickr

The Cotillon Goody bags

If you eat out at a restaurant or with a local family for New Year’s Eve, you may end up getting a Bolsa de Cotillon — a goody bag filled with silly party favors like masks, decorations and toys. Adults in Cádiz seem to love these bags just as much as kids, so get in on the holiday spirit and enjoy trying on and playing with all your party favors.

Sway to live music in the streets

The streets of Cádiz and its surrounding villages are filled with music on New Year’s Eve. The Zambomba Flamenca, a tradition beloved by tourists and locals alike, is a selection of classic holiday carols performed with a flamenco twist. Expect to see Andalusian musicians stamping, clapping, drumming the Zambomba drum and belting out this unique style of music outdoors on New Year’s Eve and throughout the entire holiday season.

You’ll have the opportunity to experience some of these traditions and more if you partake in the New Year’s Eve Cádiz Corazon Tour. The special New Year’s Eve dinner will be held at the charming Hotel Casa de la Califa in Vejer de la Frontera which has been voted one of Spain’s prettiest villages.

Vejer de la Frontera, Spain

Instead of sampling Spanish cuisine, you’ll embark on a Moroccan food journey that will make your New Year’s Eve an unforgettable one. Don’t worry, though, you’ll still be armed with plenty of grapes, cava and copas to celebrate with!

7 Foods You Absolutely Have to Try in Cádiz, Spain

Taberna Casa Manteca Cadiz
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Southern Spain is an intriguing mix of Moorish and Christian architecture, sandy beaches, snow-capped mountains and a cuisine scene that may just rival some of the greatest foodie capitals of the world. The southern town of Cádiz is one of the best spots in Spain to indulge in Mediterranean delights. The city’s unpretentious foodie scene has something for everyone – think tables perched high with plates of seafood, locals sipping sherry outdoors beneath the warm sunshine and crowded tapas bars with people of all ages gathered around barrels, chattering and chowing down. Here’s the official Corazon Travel list of seven foods you just can’t miss when visiting this Andalusian seaside town. Warning: do not read when hungry!

 

Chocos in Cadiz
Photo www.cadizturismo.com

Tortillitas de camarones

These crispy fritters are made from shrimp so tiny it’s virtually impossible to separate them. So, instead they’re fried whole in a batter of chickpea flour, onions, parsley and salt and batter, making for a crunchy seafood snack.

 

Tortillitas de camerones
Photo by Mover El Bigote via Wikipedia

Chicharrones de Cádiz

One of Cádiz’s most mouthwatering specialties is pork belly. It’s prepared by chopping up the pork and slow roasting it. The dish is served with fresh lemon and ground cumin, and is best paired with a glass of red wine.

Taberna Casa Manteca Cadiz
Photo www.cadizturismo.com

Boquerones

These small anchovies can be eaten in several different ways in Cádiz, like en vinagre, soaked and marinated in sharp vinegar or en adobo, fried to perfection and drizzled with some garlic and a light sprinkling of salt.

Boquerones en vinagre
Photo by Keng Wang via Wikipedia

Fino de Jerez

Drinks count as food, right? Sherry aficionados should indulge in some fino or manzanilla, a crisp, light sherry variety made from the Palomino grape. The word sherry actually comes from Xeres (Jerez), the Andalusian region where it’s created. Both fino and manzanilla are the lightest and driest of all the traditional Sherry varieties differing only by which part of the sherry triangle they come from. They are aged in barrels underneath a layer of flor yeast which prevents their contact with oxygen and so keeps their pale yellow colour.

Sherry Cadiz
Photo www.cadizturismo.com

Pan de Cádiz

This tasty pastry translates to ‘bread of Cádiz,’ but it’s actually a dessert made of marzipan and candied fruit. Although this sweet treat is especially popular around the holidays, you can enjoy it any time of year.

Pan de Cadiz
Photo by Tamorlan via Wikipedia

Pollo a la Canilla

This mouthwatering chicken dish is a favorite with locals and tourists alike in Cádiz. The chicken is chopped and marinated for 24 hours in, you guessed it, one of the darker Jerez sherries,  amontillado. The chicken is later sautéed or fried with a pinch of laurel and served steaming hot.

Pollo a la Canilla
Photo by Turismo de Cadiz

Retinto beef

This flavorful beef comes from the famous Retinta breed of cattle, similar to bison and named after the Retin hills above the coastal area of Zahara de los Atunes. Because the cattle roams freely in pastures with a natural diet of fresh grass, scrub, herbs and acorns, the beef is some of the highest quality in Spain. In fact, the beef is of such high quality that the European Union actually recognizes the meat as a special entity. The most popular Retinto beef is añojo, from an animal which between one and two years old, giving more tender, juicy meat and delicious straight from the barbecue.

Retinto Beef Spain
Photo by El Pantera via Wikipedia

If you literally can’t go another day without tasting some of these delicious Andalusian foods, you should consider signing up for Corazon Travel’s New Year’s Eve tour in Cádiz, one of this year’s hottest New Year’s Eve destinations. You could spend New Year’s Eve 2018 sampling any and all of these foods all while escaping the freezing temps and enjoying the warm sunshine.