Madrid’s festivities in August: San Cayetano, San Lorenzo and La Paloma

Very special days for Madrid’s peoples are almost here! In 2019, from 6 to 18 August, we celebrate our famous three popular festivities: San Cayetano, San Lorenzo, and Virgen de la Paloma. Every year, during these days, the streets of Madrid are garnished and filled with joy and color.

Students of Spanish in Madrid will have the opportunity to enjoy several of Madrid’s most traditional festivities. Languages are not only languages, but they are also culture, and these festivals are a wonderful way to discover the atmosphere, way of life and culture of Madrid in every corner of the city. If you want to learn Spanish and still have no plans for this summer, take a look at our post “5 reasons to study Spanish in Madrid in summer”.

Although these three festivities are often mistakenly thought to be only one, each of them has a different location, history, and traditions.

The festivities of San Cayetano are held on the 7th of August, but usually, activities are also carried out some days before and after. The main center of San Cayetano festivities is San Cayetano’s church, and the celebrations take place all along Embajadores street.

Although in the beginning religious motifs played a greater role, nowadays popular contests and celebrations are mainly what the festivity is about. During the past year, many different activities such as the distribution of lemonade, processions and a contest of typical costumes were carried out (goyescos, manolos and chisperos typical costumes).

Man and woman dancing during La Paloma festivities

The festivities of San Lorenzo are celebrated on the 10th of August and are the oldest and most popular celebration in the Lavapiés neighborhood. Since the end of the 20th century, they set the celebrations up in the Plaza de Lavapiés (Lavapiés square) and many popular activities are carried out in the nearby streets. Last year, locals and visitors were able to enjoy sports tournaments, plays, performances, parades, concerts, DJ sessions and much more.

The festivities close with the Virgen de la Paloma festivities on the 15th of August. During the morning, a floral offering is given to the Virgin and they end that same day with a procession that starts from the La Paloma church and continues though Toledo Street to finally end at Plaza de la Cebada (in the La Latina neighborhood).

Two women laughing and drinking beer

La Paloma festivities are tremendously popular since the 19th century and have led to the creation of Zarzuelas (Spanish lyrical genre) and films entitled “La Verbena de la Paloma”. In addition, the Virgin of La Paloma has been honored by naming some of Madrid’s streets after her, and the firefighters of Madrid have her as their patroness. As the Spanish writer Francisco Azorín used to say: “La Paloma is not the patroness of Madrid, but is sovereign in many humble hearts that live in Madrid”.

We have no doubt that these three festivities, together with those of San Isidro, are the most traditional and authentic in Madrid. The streets are filled with ornaments and little lanterns and manila shawls hang from balconies firmly and proudly (there is even a prize given to the one who best decorates his street, façade or balcony).

Locals and visitors sit in the terraces and parks, talk vividly while tasting a good Madrid’s tapa and a cold beer. Background music sounds and adults and young people walk around and enjoy the good weather and company.

Are you going to study Spanish in Madrid this summer? Don’t doubt and come discover the most authentic Madrid!

“Interested in learning Spanish during Madrid’s festivities?” “Make the most of our festivities and learn Spanish this summer”

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