Out of all the American traditions that you may miss while living in Madrid, one that you definitely won’t is Halloween. Why you may ask? Well, the reason is because with each passing year, this Anglo celebration is becoming bigger and bigger in the capital. Although not traditionally celebrated in Spain, Halloween in Madrid has now all but become yet another special date on the calendar. But how did this happen? First of all is the timing. In Spain, November 1st is a All Saints’ Day and is observed as a national holiday. Thus, regardless of the day of the week that the 31st falls on, no one ever has to wake up early the next day. Secondly, is the commercial aspect of the celebration. Many different businesses stand to make a profit off hosting Halloween parties or selling costumes. Lastly, is the love/hate relationship that Spaniards have with American culture, which in this case seems to be more on the ‘love’ side of the equation, resulting in the adoption of the holiday. But then again, since when do Spanish people need an excuse to have a good time?
Get a Costume
If you’re going to celebrate Halloween in Madrid, just like back home, you’re going to need a costume. Now, before you decide what or who you’re going to go as, keep one thing in mind. A slight peculiarity about the Spanish version of Halloween is that the costumes typically revolve exclusively around a ‘horror’ theme. As opposed to in America, where costumes are often funny or reference popular culture or current events, the streets of Madrid on Halloween are filled almost exclusively with zombies, draculas, mummies, and so forth. The reason for this is that the Spanish calendar has another holiday where people dress up — Carnavales — where the costumes are more akin to what you might find in America on Halloween.
Where is the best place to go to get a costume in Madrid? With each passing year, there are more and more options it seems, but the center of the city has several stores where people typically go to get what they need. The most well-known costume shop is by far Maty, which is located in Sol adjacent to Corte Inglés. If for whatever reason they haven’t got what you’re looking for or if you’re on more of a budget, there is a Chinese shop across the street that sells a lot of costumes and accessories, as well.
Where’s the Halloween party at?
Nowadays in Madrid, just about every nightspot has some kind of Halloween party. That being said, the best place to go to experience the festivities in Madrid is a part of the city known as Huertas. This centrally-located neighborhood is full of restaurants, bars, pubs, and small nightclubs, many of which — if not all — jump on the bandwagon every October 31st, hosting special events and parties with a Halloween theme. This is particularly true of the Irish pubs, which tend to host some of the more extravagant parties, often including a costume contest with cash prizes. One of the most famous pubs in Huertas is definitely O’neill’s, who host a Halloween party every year without fail. Regardless of where you go in the center, though, there are bound to be large groups of people in costume trudging around the streets.
Trick or Treat
Aside from the scary costumes and parties, all the Halloween traditions haven’t quite made it across the water yet. Trick-or-treating has yet to become commonplace, and carving pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns still only happens stateside. Nonetheless, there is definitely plenty of Halloween spirit and merrymaking. Who knows? You may just have your best Halloween yet!