If you search for “Christmas in…” with Google, you will see the trending destinations for 2014 to spend the most traditional family celebrations in winter: Christmas in the Canary Islands, Christmas in the Caribbean, Christmas in Morocco, in Tenerife, in Europe, in Milan, in Majorca and, of course, Christmas in Madrid with children.
The capital of Spain is undoubtedly one of the most versatile destinations when you plan a Christmas holiday with your children out of home. It is, in fact, the best time to visit Madrid with kids, since the city is renewed for them. Madrid turns into an authentic amusement park plenty of Christmas plans for all the family and it is one of those budget-friendly trips if you choose a good accommodation.
The hotels in the centre of Madrid are usually more expensive than those located in areas distant from the old quarter, such as Barajas, the hotels in Arturo Soria or the surroundings of Casa de Campo park. In some cases, booking in advance, you can get family rooms next to La Gran Vía in Madrid at bargain prices, but the most usual is to stay in adjoining rooms or book rooms with extra beds.
Staying right in the centre of Madrid, although more expensive, has advantages, especially if you travel with children. Moving across the city in public transport is comfortable if you do not need many metro stops or connections from metro to bus. The heart of the city offers the most interesting plans: Tribunal, Alonso Martínez, Gran Vía, Sol, Latina and Paseo del Prado. El Retiro Park is also a must visit if you travel with children to Madrid on Christmas.
Another must visit place is the Christmas market situated every year in Plaza Mayor. Plenty of lively stands with small figures for the Nativity scene and funny house Christmas ornaments, children really enjoy to wander round the small streets, exhibitors and shelves. The stalls with traditional sweets (churros, porras, turrones…) fill the square’s and Puerta del Sol’s atmosphere with scent of party and whet the appetite. Here are not excuses to satisfy the appetite: from the traditional squid sandwiches in a pub in Plaza Mayor to the exquisite San Miguel Market, where we find all types of gourmet, healthy and innovative proposals which will captivate even the little ones.
The ambience you feel in the entire square, Puerta del Sol and Preciados passes on to the centre of Madrid. Cinemas and bars in Gran Vía offer hoardings and new events targeted, above all, at families: famous musicals such as The Lion King, which have kept the children and adults amused during several Christmas, or puppet theatre… Galleries and museums are some of the most active centres in this sense.
The education department of Reina Sofía has special commented visits for children of Primary and High School. For the little ones, it offers now two really interesting exhibitions: Matter in motion and Bodies and identities, inaugurated the past October. It will be opened to the public until summer beginning.
The Museo del Prado has a special program for families during the entire year and offers a complete selection of activities to enjoy with children the centre of the city, its collection, its exhibitions and the art. El Prado en familia (El Prado with family) propose for the end of 2014 Érase una vez el mar (Once upon a time the sea) targeted at families with children between 4 and 12 years old. It is a project whose main figure is the sea, inviting to know the museum driven on by its waves. The activity includes a really good family workshop. If you stay in a hotel close to El Museo del Prado or next to Serrano Street and Salamanca neighbourhood, you will be right in the heart of the triangle of art, allowing you to plan your visits at your leisure.
La Caixa Foundation and its Caixafórum Madrid are other must visits. This year, Caixaforum Kids programme includes an entertaining family cinema season for Christmas that will captivate parents and children during the entire month of December. Ernest and Celestine, Monsters, Inc, Ratatouille, Wall-e, stories converted to movies thanks to the digital animation.
Weather permitting, we can enjoy Madrid as it should be: in the open air. Besides El Retiro Park, where you can enjoy some of the best afternoons next to the lake, in the small boats, contemplating improvised theathre or practocing Tai Chi with the kids, you can also visit Madrid Rio Park which extends throughout Manzanares. Sport lovers can take one of the public bicycles of the Madrid Council, cross the park and even arrive to the green area of Casa de Campo, ideal place for a picnic with kids.
On the other hand, specially conceived of for rainy days, Madrid has dozens of shopping centres, both in the city and in the surroundings. Visiting one of them will allow you to organise a shopping say, funny food and cinema or playground. If you have a car, you can visit Xanadú and even practice indoor ski.
Information of interest:
Accommodation in the centre of Madrid for families with children