The supermarket shelves are packed with turrones (nougat made with almonds) and marzipans since mid-October which tells us that Christmas is around the corner. Another symptom was the early Christmas street lights lit on the 22nd of November. Walking into a shop and listening to Christmas carols, posters of season store offers, toy and perfume adverts are a clear signal of the arrival of Christmas.
The city is no different to other European capitals and in its plaza Mayor there are stalls where you can buy items for the Nacimiento (Nativity scene, also known as the Belén), Christmas trees or practical joke items from the 23rd of December till New Year’s Eve. You can also try your luck in the well-known Christmas lottery draw El Gordo, by going to calle del Carmen to buy a ticket. There you will find the most famous lottery administration in Spain; Doña Manolita. There are queues every day since summer to buy a ticket, so either buy one on-line or be very patient. If you are with little ones go to calle Maestro Victoria. The street name may not be familiar but if you ask any resident of Madrid for Cortylandia, they will hum the song that entertains the kids in this animated decoration on the facade of El Corte Inglés (department store). It will be there till the 6th of January.
It you are more interested in a panoramic view of the city and its lights the Naviluz is for you. This double-decker Christmas bus drives along the main streets of the capital from the 22nd of November till the 6th of January for its 45-minute route. Not far from the stop, plaza de Colon, in the paseo de Recoletos, there are 155 stalls that make up the Feria de Artesanía (Crafts fair) where you will find a wide range of gift ideas. And to round off if you want more lights go to the Jardín Botánico (Royal Botanical garden) where for 12 euros you can wander and enjoy the spectacular flora in a fairy tale landscape of Christmas lights and original light figures.