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Things to do in Madrid in August

Exhibitions, concerts, theatre, festivals... August is full of interesting things to do. Don't miss out!

©Barcex
In August there are probably more Madrid residents in Benidorm than in the capital. But even though the city empties and the heat intensifies, the cultural agenda in August is always full of things to do. For a start, there are the popular festivals in the centre of the city, with outdoor concerts, traditional dance classes and free lemonade – not to mention the nibbles, tapas and beers that the bars bring out onto the streets for a few weeks. There are also tons of exhibitions, summer films, activities for kids, theatre and so much more that Madrid has to offer in August. Below are just some of the cultural activities for the month so you don't miss out!

Popular festivals

San Cayetano Festival

San Cayetano Festival

The San Cayetano Festival marks the beginning of a series of popular festivals in Madrid, when there is music in the streets, the bars serve drinks outside and lanterns are hung from the balconies and terraces. The main stage is located in Plaza del Cascorro – famous for hosting the Sunday market, El Rastro – and will feature local acts such as Hatmakers, Dr. Snake and Pequeños Imprevistos, as well as big names like Bongo Botrako (Thursday 7, 10.30pm) and Canteca de Macao (Friday 8, 10pm). In addition to concerts, DJs, workshops and activities, on 7 August at 7pm the traditional procession in honour of Saint Cajetan passes through the streets of the Embajadores district.

San Lorenzo Festival

San Lorenzo Festival

After Saint Cajetan, Saint Lawrence takes over. The celebrations take place in the Lavapies neighbourhood and likewise feature concerts, activities, street theatre and... lemonade, the undisputed star of this festival, which is handed out free on Friday 8 August, between 8pm and 11pm. There is also a tapas tour round the bars in the area and circus, theatre and clowns for the kids. The main musical events take place on Calle Argumosa and include Obús (9 August, 10.30pm) and Varry Brava (10 August, 10pm). On Sunday, the procession in honour of the saint takes place, as well as the famous tortilla competition.

Verbena de la Paloma

Verbena de la Paloma

This is probably the most famous festival in Madrid. It is held every year in the La Latina neighbourhood. The concerts and activities are scattered throughout the squares, with the main stage situated in the Jardines de las Vistillas, where Pitingo (14 August, 11.30pm), Rosa López (15 August, 11.30pm) and Loquillo (17 August, 11.30pm), among others, will be performing. On 15 August, to celebrate the 'Virgen de la Paloma', various religious ceremonies take place: floral offerings, a mass, worship of the painting of the Virgin and a procession through the streets of La Latina. Afterwards, the party continues with folk music, traditional dancing, an outdoor nightclub in the Plaza de la Paja, and much much more!

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Alcalá de Henares Festival

Alcalá de Henares Festival

It's worth leaving the centre of Madrid to witness the festivities in this town. Every year, along with San Sebastian de los Reyes, it attracts residents from the whole region as well as tourists to the concerts, activities and nighttime festivities. This year concerts begin at 10.30pm in the Plaza de Toros and include Loquillo (23 August), Malú (24 August), Nancys Rubias (25 August), Abraham Mateo (26 August), plus Modestia Aparte and Un pingüino en mi ascensor (27 August). As with the rest of the festivals, there are activities and entertainment for the youngest members of the family.

San Sebastián de los Reyes Festival

San Sebastián de los Reyes Festival

Apart from the celebrations in the centre of Madrid, the festival held in 'Sanse' is one of the city's biggest. Famous for its running of the bulls, its musical line-up is also up there with the best. An evening of rock begins at 9pm on Wednesday 27 August with bands like Barón Rojo, Reincidentes, El Drogas and Gatillazo (€10). Thursday is the Mad Indie Summer Festival. On Friday 29 August at 10.30pm, Leiva, Sidecars and Los Zigarros take to the stage (€20). While the grand finale on 30 August at 10.30pm features Duncan Dhu (€15).

Music & Concerts

Tori Sparks

American rock and blues singer-songwriter Tori Sparks, who moved from Nashville to Barcelona five years ago, presents her sixth album, 'La Huerta' (2017), where she continues experimenting and crossing lines with the fusion that won her so many fans when she released 'El mar' in 2014 with the flamenco fusion trio Calamento. With El Rubio's electric guitar and Pepe Camacho's flamenco guitar, they unveil a spectrum of musical colours that pushes their sound even beyond its already daring fusion of styles.

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Clamores , Chamberí Thursday March 30 2017

Electrónica en Abril 2017

The 'Electronica in April' festival is back with artists who've left their mark on the genre. In this 15th year of the festival, you'll enjoy a series of globalised sounds that lend themselves to the unerstanding of what's happening in the world, musically as well as politically.

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La Casa Encendida , Lavapiés Until Sunday April 2 2017

Madame Butterfly

The opera by Giacomo Puccini comes to Madrid's Teatro Compac Gran Vía to commemorate the tragedy of Madame Butterfly, a Geisha in love with Pinkerton, an American officer who returns home after marrying her. The Estudio Lírico company and the Mediterranean Philharmonic Orchestra bring this classic to the stage, divided into three acts, with a libretto composed in Italian by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica.

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Teatro Compac Gran Vía , Centro Until Sunday April 2 2017
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Bruno Mars

Hawaiian-born Bruno Mars has been so busy, even our heads are spinning. He's won four of the 20 Grammys he's been nominated for, as well as heaps of other prizes, and has sold more than 170 million singles and 26 million albums worldwide, including his huge hit 'Uptown Funk', which he wrote with British artist Mark Ronson, and which has become his longest-standing hit single on the American chartes in the last decade. Mars is back in Madrid with his mix of soul and pop to present his third album, '24K Magic' (2016) as part of his 24K Magic World Tour.

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FestiMad 2017

Madrid's big music festival is on this year from April 19 to May 7 in various venues throughout the city in small and medium format. Some 70 concerts will fill over 30 venues with music. If that sounds good to you, then you'll really love the prices: some concerts will be free, and the most expensive won't cost more than €30 (except for a few more for The Jesus and Mary Chain). Other acts include The Dictators NYC, Nuria Graham, Joana Serrat, Skunk DF, The Fuzztones and Pájaro.

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Various venues , Madrid Wednesday April 19 2017 - Sunday May 7 2017

The Jesus and Mary Chain

The kings of shoegaze and post-punk in the '80s, and possibly one of the best Scottish bands ever, The Jesus and Mary Chain kicked off their career in 1984 and broke up at the end of the '90s, though they enjoyed a brief moment of glory in 2003 when their song 'Just Like Honey' was included in the sountrack for 'Lost in Translation'. Following a few solo disappointments, the Reid brothers got the band back together with Phil King, Brian Young and Mark Crozer to do the festival circuit, including Coachella, Primavera Sound and BBK Live. Their new album, 'Damage and Joy' is set for a March release, and they're in Madrid to show it off barely a month aftewards. 

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La Riviera , Imperial Sunday April 30 2017
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Simple Minds

The Scottish band Simple Minds, featuring Jim Kerr, Charlie Burchill, Mel Gaynor, Andy Gillespie and Ged Grimes, are in town to present one of their riskier albums – not for the content but the format: 'Simple Minds Acoustic'. Their 2017 tour sees them accompanied by Scottish artist KT Tunstall. The authors of songs like 'Don't You (Forget About Me)', 'She's a River', 'Belfast Child,' 'Alive and Kicking', 'Promised You a Miracle' and 'Mandela Day' have been making music in various formations since 1977 and form a big part in the history of British pop.

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Teatro Circo Price , Embajadores Tuesday May 2 2017

Sound Isidro 2017

The Sound Isidro Festival fills Madrid with live music presented by some stellar bands from the worlds of national and international rock and indie rock. At venues including El Sol, Costello, Moby Dick, La Riviera and Teatro Barceló, you can check out Saint Etienne, Pablo und Destruktion, Siniestro Total, Hollywood Sinners, Zelators, Hyperpotamus, Abdullah Miniawy, Nueva Vulcano, Mishima, and more to be confirmed.

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TClub Barceló , Malasaña Wednesday May 3 2017 - Saturday September 30 2017
More concerts in August

Cinema in Madrid

The Water Diviner

You know him as a surly lunk of slab-faced Aussie manhood. But Russell Crowe shows his squishy side as the director of this soft-hearted war melodrama. He also stars as Connor, a farmer whose three sons are missing presumed dead on the WWI battlefield of Gallipoli. Coming on like Liam Neeson without the leather jacket, four years later he travels to Turkey, dad-on-a-mission style, to bring home the bodies of his boys. Once there, he encounters the obligatory sneering British officer who orders him back to Australia. (read more)

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The Pyramid

Who would you choose to take along on a pioneering Egyptian tomb excavation? Chances are, it wouldn’t be a guy who looks like Indiana Jones’s bookish, bad-tempered uncle, the year’s most hapless screen blonde and the mouthy one from ‘The Inbetweeners’. Yet here they are, getting into all manner of scrapes inside a millennia-old structure buried deep in that part of the Sahara desert that looks suspiciously like California. (read more)

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Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

Cinema lovers, you should thank God for Kevin James. This oft-ridiculed screen giant is here to answer a question that has plagued mankind for decades now: what would a film be like if every single person involved made as little effort as humanly possible? It’s been six years since the inexplicably successful ‘Paul Blart: Mall Cop’, and our hero (Kevin James) is in a rut. His wife has left him, his mother was flattened by a milk truck and his daughter Maya (Raini Rodriguez) is planning to leave home. (read more)

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Woman In Gold

A powerful true-life tale becomes the stuff of workaday drama in ‘Woman in Gold’. A dusky lady looks quizzically out from a mosaic of gold leaf in the Klimt canvas dubbed ‘Austria’s Mona Lisa’. But for elderly LA resident Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren), it’s a portrait of her Aunt Adele, and a painful reminder of the lives, home and property wrenched from her Jewish family during the Nazi annexation of Austria. In the late 1990s, changes in Austrian law allowed the handing back of looted treasures to their owners. So Mirren’s crotchety but indefatigable Maria and a junior lawyer (Ryan Reynolds) begin an against-the-odds battle against Vienna’s state-run Belvedere Gallery. (read more)

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More films in Madrid

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