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Madrid's Top 10 : Religious and Cultural Fiestas - Top 10 Celebratory Cakes

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  1. New Year’s Eve

    To be among the crowds on the Puerta del Sol on the most exciting night of the year is an unforgettable experience. On the stroke of midnight join the revellers in observing the custom of swallowing grapes, one after each chime. Bags of grapes and bottles of sparkling wine are sold from stalls nearby.

    • 31 Dec

  2. Epiphany

    Rounding off the Christmas festivities is the Cabalgata de Reyes (procession of the kings). Floats parade along Calle Alcalá, through Puerta del Sol, ending in Plaza Mayor. The three kings are played by local politicians.

    • 5 Jan

  3. Carnival

    The fun begins the weekend before Shrove Tuesday with fancy dress competitions, brass bands, and a procession followed by a spectacular show on Plaza Mayor. Ash Wednesday is marked by the “Burial of the Sardine”. The mock funeral procession leaves from the church of San Antonio de la Florida and ends with interment in the Casa del Campo.

    • Feb

  4. Holy Week

    The three days leading up to Easter are marked by solemn religious processions. On Holy Thursday the image of Jesus is carried through the city by penitents wearing the traditional purple hoods and chains around their feet. The following evening is the procession of Jesús de Medinacelli which leaves from the basílica of the same name before winding its way around the city centre.

    • Mar/Apr

  5. San Isidro

    The feast day of Madrid’s patron saint is celebrated with a procession to the Ermita de San Isidro. Madrileños dress up in traditional costumes and picnic on rosquillas. There is also a fair, brass bands and sports events. San Isidro also marks the beginning of the bull-fighting season.

    • 15 May

    San Isidro
  6. Veranos de la Villa

    The Summer Arts Festival is a season of concerts (pop, classical, flamenco), theatre productions, ballets and films, featuring international as well as Spanish artists. Venues range from major theatre and concert halls to the Centro Cultural Conde Duque.

    • Jul–Sep

  7. Neighbourhood Festivals

    Each neighbourhood (barrio) organizes its own celebrations to mark local red-letter days. These range from the blessing of pets in the church of San Antón, Calle Hortaleza (17 January) to Chinese New Year in Lavapiés (end of January, early February).

  8. Festival de Otoño

    This major cultural festival promotes the arts with an ambitious programme of dance music, drama and film. Events are held in venues across the city.

    • Mid-Oct–mid-Nov

  9. Virgen de la Almudena

    On the Feast of the Virgin of Almudena, the image of the patroness of Madrid is carried in procession through the centre of the city, followed by mass in the cathedral which bears her name .

    • 9 Nov

  10. Christmas Crib Fair

    The Christmas Fair on Plaza Mayor has more than 100 booths, selling cribs (belenes), crib figures, trees and decorations. The official crib is housed outside the Casa de la Carnicería.

    • 1 Dec–6 Jan

Top 10 Celebratory Cakes

  1. Roscón de Reyes

    Circular brioches flavoured with almonds and candied fruit. Usually contain a small charm.

    • 6 Jan

  2. Panecillos de San Antonio

    These small rolls marked with a cross are served at the Church of San Antonio.

    • 13 Jun

  3. Torrijas

    These are slices of milk-soaked bread which have been fried and laced with cinnamon and sugar.

    • Holy Week

  4. Monas de Pascua

    Very sweet brioches which are, rather strangely, eaten with hard-boiled eggs.

    • Holy Week

  5. Rosquillas del santo

    Small doughnuts with a variety of flavours and bizarre names – “the fool”, “the intelligent one” and “Santa Clara” are just some of them.

    • 15 May

  6. Suspiros de modistillas

    “Needlewomen’s sighs” are meringues filled with praline.

    • 13 Jun

  7. Huesos de santo

    Marzipan sweets sculpted to look like “saints’ bones”.

    • 1 Nov

  8. Buñuelos de viento

    Small profiteroles filled with cream, custard or chocolate.

    • 1 Nov

  9. Turrón

    Nougat, hard or soft, and made in various flavours.

    • Christmas

  10. Polvorones

    “Crumbly” biscuits flavoured with cinnamon and almonds.

    • Christmas

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