More than just Christmas – Everything you need to know about the holidays in Madrid

Photo borrowed from Citylife Madrid

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve watched double-decker buses line up along Plaza de Colón. The city has been fully decked in lights since the first of the month and come to find out, these navibuses (as in Navidad or Christmas buses) take folks around Madrid to see the city’s best and brightest.

One great thing about traveling around the holidays is discovering new traditions. For instance, I loved lighting candles on Día de las Velitas and the special nighttime ciclovía each December in Bogotá. New traditions are even more important for those living abroad because incorporating something new into your holiday season can help take the sting out of being away from loved ones.

If you’re traveling to or living in Madrid count yourself lucky—here, the holiday season is more than just Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Keep reading for a rundown of special days in Spain’s capital city.

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Expat advice: When you’re not home for the holidays

expat holidays away from home

I’m not gonna lie. In some respects, living abroad during the holidays is great. Here in Madrid, lights and trees and decorations are already up all over the city. Thanks to Amazon Prime, my U.S. gift shopping stress doesn’t even register. I may not get to spend all the special days with my besties or family, but if needed, I can distract myself with a 35€ flight to Toulouse or quick train to Sevilla.

But then, I start thinking about this Thursday. It’s Thanksgiving in the U.S. but just a regular day here in Spain. Regular to the point that I’ll be getting a cavity filled at 10:50 am. Regular to the point that I’ll be smooshed in the metro with the other regular-day commuters, thinking of all the roasting turkeys and toasts happening in the U.S.

When you live abroad, there’s a good chance you’ll celebrate solo a time or two. It’s not always possible or practical to get home. But celebrating holidays away from family can wear on even the steadiest heart. There’s a unique loneliness that slinks in no matter how accustomed you are to being away from home. So, what’s an expat to do?

Since we’re looking the holiday season in the face, I say it’s time to get proactive. I’m a girl that loves a plan. I swear, seven out of ten things that plague my inner being can be solved with a decent list. If you know you won’t be with family this year and already feel the tickle of bleak desolation on the fringes of your heart, it’s time to get going! Don’t wait until you’re in the depths of despair with a bottle of tequila on Christmas Eve.

Keep reading for five ways I avoid the lonely that can creep in around the holiday season.
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