It’s no secret that the Spaniards enjoy a big night out. At least as far as Hemmingway was concerned when he wrote ‘nobody goes to bed in Madrid until they’ve killed the night’, Spain’s capital is the paradise of many a midnight reveler.
Why, it seems only natural for the city to celebrate with an overnight cultural extravaganza! White Night in Madrid (or Noche en Blanco) is just that – an art and cultural carnival made up of more than 150 activities, all of which take place between sundown and sunrise. Occurring over a ten-hour period on 11 September, this unique festival will see a city transformed by live music, street theatre, light projections, exhibitions and artistic installations. At the same time, travellers may take advantage of extended opening hours, as theatres, museums and galleries organise special tours, interactive projects and late-night exhibitions.
The slogan of Madrid White Night 2010 is ‘Game On’ and, considering last year’s festival attracted a crowd of one million, this is set to be one hell of a game!
Charting the White Night
Throughout the White Night festival, there will hardly be an area in Madrid that is not choc-a-bloc with entertainment.
According to event director Pablo Berástegu “it’s very easy to get lost in the White Night”. Keeping this in mind, rather than attempting to plot out a path, your best bet is to stick with the inevitable and aim to do just that: get lost in the midnight magic. Start out at the lively Gran Via and wander the main streets from there, stopping by any exhibitions that may take your fancy, or pausing for a tipple at one of the many streetside bars.
For those inclined to a more conservative route, do some prior research into museums and art galleries – it’s the perfect option for culture-seeking tourists who only have a few days to spare in Spain’s capital! Just make sure you stop for a coffee on the way…
Madrid White Night Highlights
Need a little more direction on your midnight adventure? Why not check out a few of the following…
Trash Entre Amigos: Half-cinema, half-live performance, ‘Trash Entre Amigos’ encourages audiences to participate in their own unbiased dialogue and commentary as an unconvential ‘trash’ film is displayed on screen. The flick selected for this year’s White Night is Rome 2072 AD: The New Gladiators. When? 12am-2am. Where? La Casa Encendida.
Artes Escénicas Y Discapacidad: Ali is a short performance piece which encourages audiences to laugh (with fright!) at the knowledge there is an inner freak crawling within us all. When? 10pm Where? La Casa Encendida.
Mejores Fotografías de la Temporada 2009/2010: An exhibition showcasing winning and shortlisted photographs of the social competition in 2009/2010. When? 9pm-1am. Where? Real Sociedad Fotográfica.
Metrópolis: An interactive artistic display featuring a large number of transparent plastic balls filling an exhibition display room. As viewers enter and are quickly enveloped by balls, they become acoustically isolated, hearing only artificial sounds and seeing the world through an optical illusion. When? 10pm-2am. Where? Galería la Zúa.
Israel Galván en la Abadía: National Dance Prize winner Israel Galván performs his one-man show Solo – a unique display of flamenco dance…without music. When? 25-minute performances at 9pm, 10pm and 11pm. Where? Teatro de la Abadía.
Forward Motion: An eclectic collection of British video-dance works, where prestigious choreographers will present films that have inspired their works. When? 9pm-3am. Where? Matadero Madrid.
Madrid’s Best Nightlife
As a city of more than 350,000 bars, Madrid is famous for its part-hard nightlife! For a big night out, stick around the Centro district – Huertas or the Puerta del Sol are both popular areas near the Gran Via, while Malasaña is famous for its trendy alternative scene reminiscent of Camden Town in London. Here are a few of our top picks to stop by on your venture through the White Night…
Restaurants: If you fancy something tasty, affordable and open till the wee morning hours, you can’t beat one of Madrid’s famous tapas bars. There are a number of these restaurants scattered around Sol in the Centro district, all of which make for a perfect White Night stopover. Our top picks are Malaspana on the Calle Cadiz for its sangria and Spanish classics, or the nearby Il Picolino De Farfalla which offers delicious international cuisine at €10 per head. For something slightly more old school, check out La Venencia – a 1920s-style bar serving tapas dishes for €2 alongside a variety of delicious Spanish sherries.
Bars: With 350,000 options, it’s hard to know where to start! Your best bet is to bar hop around the streets of Calle Huertas, the main thoroughfare of the Huertas neighbourhood. This is a great idea if you are travelling on a budget…particularly considering the number of bar staff convincing you to sample a free ‘chupito’ shot (a hard liquor made of local fruits). For those who fancy something a little more upmarket, check out the New York loft-style cocktail bar and sushi restaurant Le Garage, or the sleek Nordic-inspired Olsen bar with its 80-plus vodka varieties. Then, for some serious clubbing, head to Museo Chicote on the Gran Via and dance in the steps of its famous past guests – Ava Gardner, Sophia Loren, Princess Grace and even Hemingway himself.
Where to stay in Madrid
For something cheap and chic in central Madrid, you can’t go past Hostel One Centro – a brand new hostel located two blocks from the Sol main square. Dorm rooms are still available over the White Night period from €20 per night. For a little bit of luxury, check out the private rooms at High Tech Avenue Hotel, each of which comes complete with a computer, exercise bike, free internet and hydro massage shower. Rooms are still available over White Night from €48.60 per night. To see what else is on offer, check out our complete range of hostels in Madrid.