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!
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
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
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!
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
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).
Cinema in Madrid
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)
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)
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)
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)