Chulapa and chulapo (native Madrileños decked out in the traditional costume) at the fiesta
The essence of Madrid is captured in the annual feast of the Virgin of la Paloma; the combination of culture, history, passion, and pride epitomizes what it means to experience coming here. Joining this celebration, I was no longer an outsider, but just another Madrileña ready to join the party
A GUIDEPOST Report
The high-water mark of traditional summer festivals in Madrid is upon us once again, the Fiesta of the Virgin of la Paloma, actually a series of fiestas that lasts all week long. The La Paloma is one of the most castizas (pure, authentic and traditional) of the fiestas celebrated in the capital and Guidepost loves covering it especially for visitors who, we know, are sure to end up loving the city after participating in the celebrations.
In August 2013 Louisa Baczor (https://www.guidepost.es/fiesta-de-la-virgen-de-la-paloma/) wrote:
La Fiesta de la Paloma is the final and most popular of Madrid’s trio of traditional fiestas (following San Cayetano and San Lorenzo) celebrated during [August]. The 15th of [the month] is the culmination of the weeklong celebrations in the streets of barrio La Latina to honour its patron saint, the Virgin of La Paloma.
La Latina is the old centre of Madrid, full of authentic character and charm. Its narrow, medieval streets contain a high concentration of quality tapas restaurants that are generally cheaper than elsewhere in the city. During the festivities, the streets are decorated with streamers and flowers, and stalls sell typical Spanish treats. Locals can be seen dressed in traditional clothes and performing folk dances (‘chotis’). Bars set up makeshift counters outside, serving ‘minis’ (litre-sized cups) of sangria and beer. Speakers blare out Spanish music, to which people salsa as they mingle between bars.
As the sun begins to set, the party livens up and swelling crowds fill the plaza. Thousands of locals and tourists of all ages and backgrounds unite to celebrate until the small hours.
As a newcomer to Madrid, La Fiesta de la Paloma was the best possible introduction to the spirit and traditional culture of the city. The alegria de vivir of Madrileños was encompassed by the event and was contagious to visitors who were gladly welcomed by the locals to join in the verbena.
And Kelsey Bourke ( https://www.guidepost.es/music-mojitos-madrid-festival-de-la-virgen-de-la-paloma/) had this to say in 2015:
Being an outsider, it was incredible to witness the ambience of unity resonating throughout the cobble stone streets as everyone, young and old, came together to dance and enjoy one another’s company. The sense of tradition is seen throughout the festival, and the energy level is contagious. The streets come to life—adorned with lights, flowers, and decorations while the people are dressed in chulapo suits (traditional Spanish costume) dancing the chotis. No one walks around empty handed. The delicious smell of savory meats, sweet chocolate desserts, and refreshing mojitos consumes the air and makes one’s mouth water irresistibly. On every corner one can find carnival games, open air seating, and a never-ending array of DJ sets, assuring a music-filled atmosphere with every step.
The essence of Madrid is captured in the annual feast of the Virgin of La Paloma; the combination of culture, history, passion, and pride epitomizes what it means to experience coming here. Joining this celebration, I was no longer an outsider, but just another Madrileña ready to join the party.
At night, the focus is on fun. However during the day, one can observe multiple religious processions to honor the Virgen. . . The story of the Virgen de la Paloma dates back to the 18th century when Madrid local Isabel Tintero displayed the image of the Virgin on her door. People from all over Spain came to see the painting and experience the healing miracles associated with it. In 1912 the image had gained so much popularity and religious significance that a church was erected in its honor; to this [the church of] La Paloma [in the parish of San Pedro el Real] proudly contains the image of the Virgin. On the holiest day of the festival, the painting is taken down from the altar by local firemen and paraded down the streets in procession.
Among the most exciting events in the Fiestas de la Paloma 2017 are:
Friday 11 August
21:30, Calle del Águila, exhibition of chotis
22:00, Plaza de la Cebada, “Cine & palomitas (film & popcorn)” – silent movie
23:00, Plaza de las Vistillas, concert of popular rapper Sara Hebe
23:30, Plaza de la Paja, dance with live music by La Brigada orchestra
00:15, Plaza de las Vistillas, concert by the provocative Las Bistecs duet
Saturday 12 August
19:00, Plaza de la Cebada, “urban jungle” ( sport)
20:00, Calle del Águila, “Magia y globos con los magos meigas” (Magic and Balloons with the Witches)
22:00, Plaza de la Cebada, “Cine & palomitas” – silent movie
23:00, Plaza de la Paja, dance with live music by the Enclave orchestra
23:00h, Plaza de las Vistillas, concert by the Canteca de Macao (flamenco, reggae and ska)
Sunday 13 August
22:00, Plaza de las Vistillas, concert by painter-singer La Bien Querida
23:00, Plaza de la Paja, concert by flamenco singer Rocío Márquez
00:00, Plaza de las Vistillas, concert by Los Niños Mutantes (Indie pop rock)
00:10, Plaza de la Paja, dance with music provided by the Supersónica orchestra
Monday 14 August
22:00, Plaza de la Cebada, “Cine & palomitas” – silent movie
22:30, Plaza de la Paja, castiza concert by de Mari Pepa de Chamberí
23:00, Plaza de las Vistillas, concert by the criitically accalimed flamenco singer Kiko Veneno
Tuesday 15 August
13:00, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Paloma, Mass
15:00, Calle del Águila, free paella
20:00, Procession of the Virgen de la Paloma. From the Church of La Virgen de la Paloma through Calle Isabel Tintero, Gran Vía de San Francisco, Puerta de Toledo, Calle Toledo, Plaza de la Cebada, Carrera de San Francisco, Plaza Puerta de Moros, Carrera de San Francisco, Plaza de San Francisco, calle Calatrava, and back to the Church of La Virgen de la Paloma
22:45, Plaza de las Vistillas, concert by rocker Mikel Erentxu
Also on the agenda
13 – 15 August, 19:00 – 20:00, Calle Cava Baja, workshop on Madrid gastronomy: ropa vieja, migas, gildas variadas, callos a la madrileña, huevos estrellados, bocadillo de calamares, torrijas and limonada madrileña
11 and 13 August, 22:00, pasacalles (lively dance and music on the street): Calles Cebada and Humilladero, and Plaza de la Cebada
11 August, 20:30, Calle Don Pedro 4 y 6; 12 August, 20:30, Plaza de las vistillas: mantones (traditional shawls)
13 August, 20:30, Plaza de la Paja: pasadobles (lively dance with a binary rhythm modelled after the sound, drama, and movement of the Spanish bullfight)
11 August, 21:00, Plaza de Las Vistillas: chotis
13 August, 20:15, Plaza de la Paja: fans
14 August, 21:00, Plaza de Las Vistillas: La verbena de la Paloma, the most popular of the zarzuelas at Spanish fiestas
Featured image / Alex Bikfalvi, CC BY-SA2.0 cropped
Plaza Paja / Esetena, CC BY-SA4.0
Chulapo couple / Joquerollo, CC BY2.0
Virgen de la Paloma / J.L. De Diego, PD
Chotis in the street courtesy Madrid Council
Bocadillo de calamares/Juan Fernandez, CC BY-SA2.0