Culture: Street Performers in Madrid

Posted on March 5, 2010 by

Buskers rule in Europe, especially in Madrid where artists, musicians and hippies take to the streets. Take a stroll around downtown Madrid on a Sunday and you’ll see the vibrant busking scene come alive. During a recent weekend stay in Madrid, we relived those days spent wandering through its labyrinth-like downtown while living in the metropolis.  Instead of empty streets typical of a Sunday, we were treated to magic-performing artists and Moroccan Sufi music on the streets. Here’s a look at buskers’ favourite stomping grounds in Madrid:

Street performer on his trumpet in downtown Madrid

Plaza Mayor

Start your trail at Plaza Mayor, the main square in Madrid where both tourists and locals flock to for good food and latest happenings. A tourist playground as always attracts buskers like magnet. Expect to find  the usual suspects – solo violinists crooning the outdoor diners and buskers disguised in ancient costumes. You might be surprised by the innovative ones though: an old Chinese men playing the traditional instrument of er-hu and groups of Moroccans tapping on typical Arabic drums.

Plaza Mayor

A Sufi group on the streets

La Latina

Continue on to the next barrio (district) of La Latina, just a short walk from Plaza Mayor. This hip district is chaotic and characteristic in the day, but transforms to a pumping tapas hub by night. On a Sunday, you won’t be disappointed by the amount of energy present here. We stumbled across a Chinese man clad in a bullfighter’s glittery costume, armed with a bandera and a fake bull – undoubtedly he got plenty of laughs and cheers from the crowd.

A Chinese bullfighter with his fake bull

El Rastro

One of Europe’s biggest antique/flea market, El Rastro is only opened on Sundays in La Latina. Thousands of made-shift tents line the streets selling things from centuries-old coins to hip ethnic wear. In between the crowd and vendors, you’ll find interesting buskers strutting their stuff. We found a hippy playing a diggeridoo, impressing the crowd with his stamina and talent. There were plenty of trumpet-blowing musicians and flamenco singers on the streets.

El Rastro

A hippie on his digeridoo

Retiro Park

Once the energy overwhelms you, it’s time to head out to a quieter slice of Madrid.The Retiro Park slightly out of the city center promises some quiet time to yourself and nature. Pretty pine trees spread through out the park, while leisure strollers and amorous lovers let down their hair on the park’s green lands.

Buskers here tend to be more low-key, with some playing the accordion and others performing puppet shows for the young ones. Those looking for accommodation might prefer to find a hotel near Retiro Park to get away from the city’s bustling center.

The lake in Retiro Park

Wherever you are in Madrid, just look deeper and you’ll find street performers at every corner. They might not have made it to the stage, but this kind of art – lives forever.

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image I’m the new Madrid local expert for PlanetEye Traveler, so look out for my tips and articles on the best restaurants, tapas bar, hotels and every oddball activity in the Spanish capital.

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About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is the co-founder of WildJunket. As a professional travel writer with a special interest in offgrid destinations and adventure travel, she scours through the world in search for a slice of undiscovered paradise. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Guatemala, swam with sealions in the Galapagos and built a school in Tanzania.

12 Responses to “Culture: Street Performers in Madrid”

  1. Charlotte May 21, 2010 6:54 am
    #

    Spain oh Madrid. This is the place where dreams are made of ! To travel the length of Spain is a must for any one considering a holiday full of history, joy, passion and above all a vastly different culture. Valencia is also a firm favorite and must be visited if not for the party for the wonderful world renowned oranges.

  2. Mathieu March 4, 2011 12:11 pm
    #

    Buskers create an excitement and a buzz in any city. I adore street performers and all that goes with the attraction. Often, we find that the street stalls increase, as does the audience.

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