EventssliderTime Out

It’s not just the religious rituals and dancing the chotis. It’s also about sinful gastronomy. You
could put on weight just by looking at those
chorizos! Yummy, though/
Barcex, CC BY-SA2.5


by Christopher Collins

Off to the San Isidro fiestas dressed in the traditional chulapa and chulapo costumes/Alex Bikfalvi, CC BY-SA2.0 cropped

Las Fiestas de San Isidro, in honor of Madrid’s patron saint, San Isidro Labrador, are being celebrated from 11 to 15 of May. The fiestas are considered the most castiza of Madrid’s fiestas. Castiza means pure, genuine, true representative of a caste (casta). These fiestas are the closest to the hearts of the Madrileños.


San Isidro Labrador (St. Isidore the Farm Laborer), c. 1050 – 15 May 1130, was a tall (6’5) Madrileño farmworker. Devotees believe that his acts of piety  toward the poor and the animals are factual.

San Isidro and Santa María de la Cabeza/Bocachete, PD

He is, apart from the patron saint of Madrid, the patron saint of farmers as well.

Nearly 500 miracles are attributed to San Isidro but only five are vouched for by the fourteenth-century codex, the Códice de Juan Diácono, the lone original source of the saint’s hagiography. Among these five miracles were:

  • The half-sack of wheat Isidro poured on the frosty ground for the pigeons vainly scratching for food. When Isidro reached the mill, the sack wasn’t only full, it yielded twice the amount of flour that a full sack would.
  • The angels plowed the field for Isidro while he was deep in prayer. On another occasion, the angels were seen plowing the field with him!
  • The small pot in Isidro’s lowly kitchen became a source of inexhaustible food for the large bunch of starving poor that he brought home to be fed by his wife, María (Santa María de la Cabeza/ St. Mary of the Head).

Forty years after his death, Isidro’s body was exhumed and found incorruptible. According to Catholic teaching, incorruptibility, achieved through divine intervention, is a sign of holiness. A plus for sainthood. Isidro was canonized on 12 March 1622.



The San Isidro festivities are held throughout the city. Be prepared to imbibe the ambiance. It’s awesome!

Here’s what you could expect from the festival, as held in the emblematic Plaza Mayor. All free!


• 11 May, 22 h: Concert by actor-musician Coque Malla, with the Municipal Symphonic Band.
• 12 May,14.30 h: Madrileña Dance Festival.
• 12 May, 21 h: Madrileña singer-globetrotter Sandra Bernardo performs. Take a listen to her velvety voice.
• 12 May, 22.10 h: Oumou Sangaré concert. Oumou Sangaré is one of the great contemporary singers of African music, and an indefatigable women’s rights activist in Mali, her homeland.
• 13 May, 21.30 h: Teatro de La Zarzuela. Is there anything more madrileña and castiza than the zarzuela? Tell us!
• 14 May, 20 h: “#25deM80,” tribute concert to the 25-year old M80 radio station. Performers: Celtas Cortos, Gran Cañón, Elefantes, and Immaculate Fools.
• 15 May, 11 – 14 h: Tribute to San Isidro by the regional centers in Madrid: Centro Castellano-Manchego; Casa de Segovia; Hogar Vasco; Casa de Castilla La Mancha; Centro Asturiano; Centro Extremeño; Centro Gallego; Casa Córdoba; Círculo Catalán; and Casa de Zamora.
• 15 May, 21 h: Flamenco virtuoso José Luis de la Paz show.
• 15 May, 22.20 h: World-renowned award-winning flamenco genius, Diego El Cigala, will beguile the Madrileños and their guests with an exquisite recipe that mixes Latin potion with the sweet venom of jazz, flamenco and even the Argentinian tango!

For the complete program, click here.

And for the aficionados, don’t forget the Feria de San Isidro at the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas, the world’s premier bullfighting festival, 14 May -10 June. Check it out!