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Cheap dates in Madrid

Save money in the Spanish capital with these budget tips for things to do in the week ahead for little or no cash.  

Blue carpet moment

The festivities to celebrate San Isidro, Madrid’s patron saint, are taking place from May 12th to 16th, with free events all over town. The big party, on Saturday, May 15th, will focus on the Gran Vía, the avenue that cuts through the centre of the city, which is marking its centenary this year.

A blue carpet will be rolled out along the length of the street, from Calle Alcalá to Plaza de España, to add to the glamour of the occasion. It’s about a mile, though, with lots of stuff to distract you along the way, so you might want to rethink the six-inch stilettoes and the full-length satin dress.

At the Red de San Luis crossroads, bands will be playing traditional Madrilenian dance tunes, as well as a bit of ballroom, so get ready to strut your stuff. Then move along to the Plaza de Callao, where 100 candles will be lit, one for each year, while fireworks light up the sky. Bands on the stage there will be belting out show tunes. Cheesy? Ooh, I should think so.

The main stage is in Plaza de España, where some of the groups from Madrid’s movida years, in the 1980s, will be playing. Think I might recognise a few of those faces. It all starts at around 6 pm, and will no doubt go on until very late indeed. At 11 pm, make sure you’re opposite the Teléfonica building, as a film documenting the history of the avenue will be screened on its façade.

If you want to stay somewhere in the middle of the action, I recommend De Las Letras right on the Gran Vía.

Designer bargains

This Sunday, May 9th, there’s a warehouse sale at Yube (Calle Fernando VI 23), from 11 am onwards. There’s at least 50% off designs by Alexander McQueen, Chloe, Missoni, Paul & Joe and others, so I’d get there early if I were you.

And going on all month, top designer Amaya Arzuaga has a pop-up outlet at Calle Valverde 31 1st floor, with clothes, shoes and accessories from around €60. It’s only open weekdays (11-6 Mon-Thurs, 11-2 Fri), so don’t turn up at the weekend.

Check out the website www.minitangerine.com for updates on showroom sales and pop-up shops, and have a look at my guides Shopping in Madrid: Salamanca area – around Calle Serrano and Shopping in Madrid: Salamanca area – around Calle Jorge Juan

2 for 1 at the Prado

If you follow the Prado museum on twitter (@museodelprado) or are a fan on Facebook, use the promotional code given on the sites to book online (www.museodelprado.es) and get two tickets for the price of one (€9) for the Art of Power exhibition which runs until May 23rd.

Artists’ Studios

Dozens of artists in the Latina and Lavapiés neighbourhoods are opening their studios this weekend (8th and 9th). Just buy a map and a catalogue for €5 from Bar Badulake (Calle Salitre 30) or La Casa del Jacinto (Calle Arganzuela 11) and off you go. See http://bit.ly/b3thL0 for more info.

Fancying staying in this arty area? Try the good value Chic&basic Atocha

Keep that metro ticket

You can get free access to science museums in Madrid on certain dates in May just by showing your metro ticket. This weekend (8th and 9th) it’s the Science and Technology Museum, followed by the Anthropology Museum on the 15th and 16th, the Geomining Museum on the 22nd and 23rd and the Railway Museum on the 29th and 30th. The Natural Science Museum – which is amazing – is free every Friday this month, and the Botanic Garden is free every Monday. Pick up a leaflet at metro stations or tourist offices or visit www.metromadrid.es/en for more information.