Madrid's San Isidro Festival

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The Mayor's speech begins events and festivals and carnivals then take place all over the city. The majority of people taking part in the proceedings will be clothed in traditional dress; this means long dresses, silk shawls and roses for the women and flat caps and waistcoats for the men.

Traditional dances will take place in the Plaza Mayor, take a seat at one of the many tapas bars lining the square and watch the dancers with a jug of Sangria, by the third glass you may even be tempted to join in yourself!

A parade is held on the Plaza de las Vistillas where crowds worship their patron saint; open air concerts are then held in the evening. One of the most unusual spectacles of Madrid is the 'Parade de Gigantes y Cabezudos. Translated as 'Parade of the giants and big heads' this parade members of stilt walkers and people wearing bizarre big headed costumes. The parcel usually crosses the center streets between six and eight pm and ends at Plaza de las Vistillas where there is often a concert to take things into the evening.

An integral, though controversial, element of the San Isidro celebrations are the bullfights. This is the time to see the World's top bullfighters take on the ferocious animals. Book a weekend ticket for a chance to see the most satisfied matadors take to the arena and always book in advance.

This year, 2010, marks the hundredth anniversary of the city's most important street, Gran Via. To celebrate there will be 1,400 meters of red carpet covering the 'birthday street' adding an even grander panorama to the proceedings. This year the golden age of Hollywood will also be visiting Madrid with stars such as Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers and Gene Kelly serenading guests of the Sabatini Gardens to swinging classics from the 1940s and beyond. A number of complementary festivals will also be taking place, bringing San Isidro to the 21st century. Other events will focus on urbanization, modern music and sustainable development.

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