verbena de la paloma
Tiempo de lectura: 4 minutos

Where are you going to without a Manila shawl? The open-air street party is just around the corner! If you don’t know what we’re talking about, it’s imperative that you read this post about the most emblematic of Madrid’s summer festivals.

Because Madrid can be a lot of things, but it’s still and fortunately, a town, that is, little more than a village. Under the airs of a great cosmopolitan city there are still urban layouts, human characters, customs, gestures and of course parties that you have to frequent to understand its essence.

Today we are getting to know one of those festivals in Madrid that reveals its true nature. A simple festival, a neighbourhood, almost a village, which is what the capital of Spain is in the end. Let’s go to the open-air street party of La Paloma!

Verbena de la Paloma

Calles de Madrid adornadas para la fiesta. / Streets of Madrid decorated for the party.

La Paloma: the most traditional Madrid.

Towards the end of the 18th century, a picture of a virgin appears in a barnyard in the district of Calatrava (today La Latina, in the centre of Madrid). The image is exhibited in a house on Paloma Street, where it earns great reverence among the neighbours.

The virgin earned her name and the feast of the Assumption, so popular throughout Spain, was consecrated in this neighbourhood. It is the third of the festivities in central Madrid this August, after San Cayetano and San Lorenzo, in the neighbouring Lavapiés and Embajadores.

The festival is therefore celebrated during a week around the 15th of August, in the squares of la Paja and la Cebada, la Puerta de Moros, la carrera and campillo de San Francisco and in the adjacent streets (Paloma, Calatrava, Isabel Tintero, Cava Baja…). The epicenter is Las Vistillas.

That is the true heart of the open-air street party of La Paloma, a simple and colourful festival that alleviates the heat of Madrid with music, dance and popular meals and a lot of participation on the part of the neighbours of the neighbourhood.

YOU CAN’T MISS THIS: If you really want to immerse yourself in the authentic essence of this festival, try to witness the open-air street party of La Paloma, an immortal zarzuelita with a festive atmosphere.



Experience the party like a real cat. 

Against all odds, today’s festival proudly survives the postmodern screening. I want to say that it has been able to incorporate the modern touch of the hípsters that tingle around the area without losing their essences.

This is what you can not miss if you want to experience the open air street party as the canons command:

  • Dress in chulapo or manola. They are the “typical” costumes of the working classes of Madrid at the end of the 19th century. Them with a vest and parpusa of white and black squares. Them with a Manila shawl. Both, with a red carnation.
  • Dancing a chotis to the rhythm of an organillo. The chotis madrileño is danced in a brick, that is to say, “grabbing” and moving the body which is indispensable. The organillo was introduced in Madrid by the luthier Apruzesse, established precisely in the neighbourhood.
verbena de la paloma

Niño vestido de chulapo para la fiesta. /Boy dressed as a chulapo for the party.

  • Drinking a Madrid lemonade. Anyone who has experienced Madrid’s harsh summer on their flesh will be grateful for this mixture of lemon, water and white wine seasoned with apple (and sometimes cinnamon).
  • Eat a tapa(s). And none of those modern blends and remakes of the classics. Tapas tapas of a lifetime: chicken, ear, snails, torreznos… Well, the tortilla de patatas and the bocata de calamares are also worth it.

TRAVELLER TIP: In case you’re wondering, the “cats” are the people from Madrid who can boast that their four grandparents were born in the city. In other words, almost none.

Verbena de la Paloma

Típica tapa de paella en Madrid. / Typical paella tapa in Madrid.

Programme of the Festivities of La Paloma. 

As you can see, the basis of the party are simple pleasures, but there is much more. Every year, neighbours and institutions make an effort to organize the most varied events and activities. The programme of the Madrid 2019 festivities has not yet been published, but it will not be very different from the programme for 2018.

  • The “official” part, religious, includes a floral offering, a mass in the church of La Paloma and a procession through the streets of the neighborhood.
  • Competitions and tournaments of traditional style and not so traditional: from mus to the longest scream, passing through tapas routes, photographic contests, table football, karaoke, painting, flashmobs and much more.
  • Activities for children: fan painting workshops, storytelling, animations, magic, traditional games, children’s photocall…
  • The activities organized by the neighbours, such as dances, performances, parades, recitals or tasting of typical dishes, are among the most popular.
  • The main attraction are the musical performances in the Plaza de la Paja and in Las Vistillas, both with orchestras and with renowned artists for all preferences.
Verbena de la Paloma

Vista aérea del centro de Madrid. / Aerial view of the center of Madrid.

You will see how the open air street party of La Paloma does not disappoint you. Lanterns, reeds, walks and a good atmosphere. You can’t be more Madrid-born.

A traditional and original way of discovering a Madrid that you will not normally see but that is as authentic as any other. Or more.

Leave any comments at the end of this article. And if you have any questions regarding the organization of your trip or your stay, contact us.

We can help you make your experience at Madrid’s summer parties perfect!

For a more customized service, contact us by phone on 922 15 12 51 or by sending an email to and we will answer all your questions.

Remember that at the end of this article, you can send us a message with your requests or questions and we will respond promptly.

Let yourself be seduced by this party, which has the universal charm of simplicity and authenticity!

verbena de la paloma

Parque del Retiro en Madrid. / Retiro Park in Madrid. /


If you still have the desire and energy to tour the capital after so much partying, take a look at this other post: 6 things to see in Madrid in a short time.

In it we will provide you with the list of essentials to round off your Madrid experience by visiting some emblematic places.

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