Fiestas de la Virgen de la Paloma in Madrid

If you’re in Spain this week, you won’t want to miss the festival for the “Virgin of the Dove”. This takes place every year in the old barrio of La Latina in Madrid and honors an 18th century portrait of the Virgin that was found in the trash one day and captured the barrio’s heart.

I went to one of these a couple of years ago and it’s loads of fun. There’s music, dancing, and lots of limonada, which is sort of like a cross between lemonade and sangria. Tasty, but potent on a hot evening.

The main festival is August 15, when there’s a long procession and a mass in honor of the Virgin. More secular entertainments include dancers, clowns, and fireworks. Since madrileños can’t conceive of a party lasting only a single day, the festival actually lasts August 12-16.

There’s something for everyone at this festival–chess tournaments, storytellers, dancing, kids’ games, and way more into the wee hours. Last year they even had a running of the bulls suitable for the whole family. The bulls were guys in bull costumes, and kids dressed as matadors waved little capes in front of them. It wasn’t all fun and games, though. Local blogger/writer/poet Sue Burke, who took this shot, nearly lost her drink when she got gored. The running of the fake bulls will happen again this Thursday, so hold onto your limonada.

A full schedule of events is here (in Spanish). Check out this website’s main page for more festivals in one of Spain’s most enjoyable cities.