One of the great surprises of Madrid is how green it is. It’s parks colour the city in great swathes of green – meadows and frothy forests, sinewy rivers bordered by willows, deep, cool urban pools - that provide a cooling balm to the heat of high summer. Knitted together they create a verdant playground for the annual Veranos de la Villa (Summer in the City) cultural agenda that spans two months over July and August.
During this time, some 90 artists participate in 41 events spread across the city’s 21 distinct neighbourhoods, inviting locals and visitors alike to engage in the city’s irrepressibly convivial spirit. Open to everyone from the very young to the old, it’s a pleasingly unpretentious, consciously democratic smorgasbord of music and dance, audio visual presentations and art, fashion and theatre and sports, and best of all, much of it is free.
Unsurprisingly, it’s extremely popular so the rules are: get there early – most of the events operate on a first-come, first-served basis – and the bigger acts fill up fast. Take a picnic - lolling about the grass drinking wine and wasting time is actively encouraged, and remember to get up to sing and dance. This is what fun-loving Madrileños do best.
The opening party at the Parque de la Cuña Verde de Latina is put together this year by envelope-pushing young creatives at Bwelke who work closely with art and architecture to create extraordinary spaces. Their concept will be kept under wraps until the big night, but promises to give a well-rounded taster of events to come over the next two months.
As part of the ‘Multi-Species Madrid’ project, which offers guided tours of the city’s green spaces and their thriving eco-systems, strollers will be treated to a two-hour guided walk along the Linear Park of the Manzanares River, followed by flamenco in the park by one of Spain’s greatest living performers, Árcangel. In the weeks leading up to his show, fans will be able to request what he performs via social media, so don’t forget to follow him.
Eminent scientists from Nasa, the Russian Aerospace Company and the Madrid Planetarium, will join forces with Galician singer and songwriter Xoel López to perform ‘Walk on the Moon’, which celebrates 50-years to the day that Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong took their first steps on the lunar surface. The original footage of that historic landing will also be shown on the big screen.
Madrid’s emblematic, public pool party kicks off at the Centro Deportivo Municipal Cerro Almodóvar from 11am, featuring two areas – one for disco, funk, soul and jazz, the other for chilling-out – and runs late.
An hour-long tour of the Juan Carlos I park is followed by this year’s lead act, Joan as Police Woman, the soulful, avant-punk American singer-song-writer heralded as the Joni Mitchell of her generation.
Sunset in the Park is the festival’s venerated closing party on 1st September bidding farewell to summer and marking the start of the cooler days of autumn. This year will see a collaboration between choreographer Cuqui Jerez and pyrotechnical genius José Luis Jiménez who will light up the skies from the meadows of the Enrique Tierno Galván Park.