One of the most famous national holidays occurs on May 15th—locals celebrate the day of the patron saint of the capital—San Isidro. For the first time, the festival took place on May 15th, 1620 in the Plaza Mayor in the capital city of Spain and lasted for eight days. Today, San Isidro Festival offers a packed program of events featuring concerts, shows, and a range of activities for all ages.
The best traditions of this holiday in Madrid have survived. Solemn events last for several days (between the 11th and 15th of May). The official opening of the festival takes place in the center of the city on May 11th at six o'clock in the evening with a procession of giant doll heads from the Plaza Santo Domingo. The parade passes through the main streets of Madrid and finishes at Plaza de la Villa (Villa Square).
During the next three days, concerts of brass bands, contemporary pop and rock performers, theatrical productions, and dance shows are held in the most emblematic places of the city (Plaza Mayor, Plaza de Oriente, the Temple of Debod, etc.). As for the dances on St. Isidro's Day, the locals perform the traditional Spanish dance chotis borrowed from the Scots.
On this day in the streets of Madrid, you can meet a huge number of women dressed in tight dresses flared at the knees, and men in checkered waistcoats and flat hats. Also, the ladies cover their heads with a white shawl and decorate their hair with a red carnation, and the Caballeros attach a flower to the lapel. There are special dishes for this day—small doughnuts Rosquillas.
Since the holiday is of a religious nature, the main events will be held on the field of San Isidro or as it is also called La Pradera. The celebratory mass will take place there, and after it, Catholics will go to the courtyard to fill the vessels with water from the holy spring. Afterwards, many Spaniards organize picnics on the hillsides.