Christmas Markets Twinkle Throughout Madrid Hawking Crafts and Treats

The Christmas market in Plaza de España features a skating rink and a beer garden
Shoppers browse the Christmas market at Plaza de España on a recent weekend.
Shoppers browse the Christmas market at Plaza de España on a recent weekend.
Abby Langton

‘Tis the season for Christmas markets throughout Madrid. The closest to campus fills the newly reformed Plaza de España with food stands, a beer garden, an ice skating rink and shops selling last-minute gifts for students returning home for the holidays.

At the entrance, green lights twinkle on a metal-framed Christmas tree, which towers above booths selling hand-made jewelry, Christmas treats and churros. Also presiding the scene is a metallic Christmas ornament, about two stories high. It displays multiple holiday scenes while playing songs such as All I Want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey.  

Tourists and locals come together beneath the lights of the market, which opened in late November. It is not only a collection of booths: It is a living celebration of the holiday spirit, where every corner captures the essence of the season.

The aroma of warm chocolate wafts throughout the area from the most-sought after food attraction, Chocolatería San Ginés, where chocolatiers stir thick, hot chocolate and pour it into mugs and create stacks of freshly fried churros ready for consumption.

Crowds pack the Christmas market at in Plaza de España on a recent evening. (Chloe Nascimbeni)

On a recent evening, the queue for the chocolatería stretched so far it wrapped around the nativity scene made of Christmas lights, but an older couple patiently waited their turn, wrapped in jackets and smiling warmly in anticipation as they inched toward the steaming, sweet drinks. Nearby, a couple absorbed in conversation dunked and stirred their churros in their hot chocolate.

Toward the other end of the market, the ice skating rink was lit up by warm lights which contrasted with the winter air. Couples gilded carefully, holding each other’s hands while newcomers struggled to keep themselves upright. At one moment, laughter rang out louder than the Christmas music as smiling teenagers teased their friends on the ice.

On another recent evening, three girls wearing thick, fleece scarves and long coats twirled in front of the two-story Christmas ornament, which at that moment was projecting the image of three trekking camels. One girl leapt into the air, doing a split, as her friend hurried to catch the shot. The scene on the ornament switched to a Christmas tree as the girls completed their dance with spins and leaps, then scurried over to their camera to examine the results.. Giggles sounded from their direction. A gray-haired couple watched the performance from a bench, grinning and siping a steaming drink.

Elsewhere, a family of five walked down an aisle of the market. It seemed to be their first time here: the little boy ran ahead of the family, pointing to things while the parents walked together, smiling and laughing. The two twin girls stared intensely at the Christmas decor.

In the beer garden, meanwhile, crowds clinked their glasses, and immersed themselves in conversation. . Different drinks were passed around, and one family let their children roam free as the parents sat down to enjoy a quick break from the immense amount of people.

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