Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Entertainment in Madrid

Madrid is a city full of life and is slowly becoming a model capital for great shows and musicals for both madrileños and visitors. Look out Broadway!

The best place for glitzy entertainment is Gran Vía here you will find plenty of theatres staging world class musicals, cinemas and nightclubs. Malasaña is where young carefree madrileños come to party, whilst in Chueca the ambient is gay friendly. Madrid has many concert venues and plenty of big names from the national and international music scene come here to perform. If you are looking for cultural entertainment, you will find classical concerts, dance performances and as well as plays. Don't forget to keep checking here where we post our entertainment and culture picks for the coming weeks. 

For musicals the best place to go is Gran Vía. Recently big name hits such as Mama Mia!, High School Musical and Les Miserables have all been here. Whilst they are in Spanish, you can at least still sing along! The Rialto, Lope de Vega and Teatro Coliseum are the best known and are all on Gran Vía. The Teatro Haagen Dazs near Sol and Tirso Molina is also recommended. Expect to pay around 20€ for a decent seat.

Theatre and dance
In Madrid you will find a wide range of opera, plays and dance performances on offer. However if you plan to see a play, most performances are in Spanish, although sometimes there are shows in English. If you want to see something typically Spanish, why not visit the Teatro de Zarzuela where you can see a traditional Zarzuela or operetta. In general expect to pay around 15-30€ for a seat although sometimes you can get tickets for much less or even free! Here's some of our recommended theatres:
Teatro La Latina,  Metro La Latina (L5)
Teatro La Zarzuela, (for typical Spanish opera) Metro Sol (L1, L2, L3)
Teatro Real, (the Opera House) Metro: Ópera (L2, L5, R)
Teatro Español, (on Plaza Santa Ana), Metro: Antón Martín (L1)
Teatro Bellas Artes,  Calle Alcalá, metro: Sevilla


Unlike the theatre, in most cases the cinema should not pose too many linguistic problems for non Spanish speakers as most films made in English are subtitled for Spanish audiences. In the centre you will find plenty of cinemas, a great deal of them have being going for years and still maintain their old charm. Cinema tickets in Madrid cost around  7€. Here's our pick:
Cine Ideal, Metro: Tirso de Molina (L1)
Cine Capitol,  Metro: Callao (L3,L5), right on Gran Vía
Renoir Princesa, Metro: Ventura Rodriguez (L3)
Renoir Plaza de España, Metro: Plaza de España (L3, L10)
Cines Callao, Metro: Callao (L3,L5), right on Gran Vía/Plaza Callao
Fans of independent film might like to try:
The Cine Doré Metro Antón Martín (L1). This is the national filmoteca.
Cine Bellas Artes Metro Sevilla (L2)

In Spain most nightclubs don't get going until around 2am or 3am and stay open until the break of dawn. This is why you will see madrileños eating churros (long doughnuts eaten with hot chocolate) on their way home from a night out. Entry to a nightclub usually costs around 15€, but often includes a drink. Note that for some places you need to be quite formally dressed to enter. If dancing until dawn is not your thing, neighbourhoods like La Latina, Salamanca or Las Letras have plenty or bars (some more rowdy than others!) where you can have a more relaxing time with a drink. Bars here are often cafes during the day so quite often you can get food here later on, however some of these bars only open at night and tend to be more for dancing and live music.
Nightlife tends to differ in the different neighbourhoods, for example in Malasaña you will find the nightlife is very young and informal. Chueca is gay friendly and anything goes; it normally goes crazy at the weekend. Sol and Gran Vía tend to have the big clubs and tourist orientated nightlife. On the other hand Salamanca has more upmarket entertainment options for those with a big budget. Here are some suggestions how to have a typical madrileño night:


Typical Madrid bar in the Huertas neighbourhood

Sol: here the bars are very much geared towards tourists, which might not be for everyone's taste! The best streets here for nightlife are Espoz y Mina, Calle de la Cruz and Calle Victoria. A few places we recommend are Las Bravas (Espoz y Mina 13), La Abuela (Espoz y Mina 28), Venta el Buscón (Victoria 5), Bodegas Melibea (Espoz y Mina 9). Again you can just wander around here and see what takes your fancy as there is plenty on offer. 

La Letras: a bit less touristy than around Sol but still has an excellent range of bars to suit all tastes. You can't go far wrong with Plaza Santa Ana, Calle Echagaray and Calle de las Huertas. Our top picks include the roof top bar of the Hard Rock Hotel, Café Central (very good free jazz every night) and the Cerveceria Alemana all on Plaza Santa Ana. La Fidula (Huertas, 57) Tabernas Meceira on Plaza de Jésus is also great (it is typical Gallician and has excellent food), and Café Matute (Plaza Matute) has a lovely terrace in the summer. For the top end, try the bars in The Ritz Hotel (Plaza de la Lealtad) or Hotel Palace (Plaza de las Cortes)

Malasaña: Café la Palma (Palma 62), Sala Taboo (San Vicente Ferrer 23), and Tupperware (Corredera Alta de San Pablo, 26) are all legendary in Madrid and play music at weekends, closing in the very small hours. They're perhaps not the best place for a quiet drink!  If you're looking for a fun night, you're bound to find something walking around and seeing where the crowds of young madrileños go. Picnic (Minas, 1) and  El Pez Gordo (Pez, 6) are a couple of fun bars. Take the metro to Tribunal (L1, L10) or Noviciado (L2) to reach these places.

Chueca: here you will find gay friendly nightlife. Plaza de Chueca on Friday and Saturday nights is usually a hotbed of activity and there are plenty or terrace bars. Some recommended bars are Soho on Plaza de Chueca and Truca (Gravina 10). The Gay Guide Madrid website has more on gay friendly entertainment and is in English. Metro: Chueca (L5).

Lavapiés: El Automático, El Economico, La Buga del Lobo are all on Calle Argumosa, metro Lavapiés. La Caña right next to the Reina Sofia on Calle Santa Isabel is another great place. Metro Atocha. All of these places have great food and terraces in the summer.

La Latina: this area is full of bars! Here night life is more low-key and an excellent choice if you are looking for a few drinks.  Cava Baja, Plaza de Paja and Calle Almendero are great spots. We recommend El Viajero (has a roof terrace, Plaza de Moros),  El Tomás (Cava Baja 42), Posada de la Villa (Calle San Bruno 3), Lamiack (Cava Baja 42), and La Musa on Plaza de Paja has a modern vibe. Metro: La Latina (L5).

Salamanca: here nightlife is a bit more exclusive and definitely a bit more expensive. There perhaps isn't the concentration of night-time entertainment as there are in other areas however a lot of the restaurants offer cocktails after dark. A couple of places we think are worth a visit are,
Lagoa (Serrano 85- metro Gregorio Marañón) and Bonsai (Jose Ortega y Gasset 66, metro Lista). You could also try some of the more upmarket hotels such as the Serrano Royal (Calle Marqués de Villamejor 8, metro Rubén Darío, L5) or the Hotel Wellington (Velázquez 8, metro Príncipe de Vergara L2, L9 or Velázquez L4) for drinks.

Here's our pick of Madrid's best clubs:
Boite Calle Tetuán 27, Metro Sol (L1, L2, L3)
Joy Eslava, Calle Arenal, Metro: Ópera (L2,L5,R) A popular one with tourists and has something on every night
Sala Sol, Jardines 3, Metro: Sol (L1, L2, L3). Rock concerts are held here often. Look out for big names.
Pacha Madrid, Calle Barceló, Metro: Tribunal. The Madrid version of the well known Ibiza club.
Serrano41, Calle Serrano 41, metro Serrano. Upmarket club in exclusive Salamanca.
Independance, Calle Santa Engracia 26, Metro Alonso Martinez (L4, L5, L10). Very popular spot with the hip crowd.
Ohm on Plaza Callao 4, and Liquid at Barquillo 8 in Chueca are two popular gay clubs.
And not forgetting: Chocalatería San Ginés on Calle San Ginés (near Sol) is the madrileños' favourite place to get churros and chocolate after a night out. Expect it to be packed out at 6am!

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