Madrid is going book mad this Friday, April 23rd. To commemorate the day that Shakespeare was born in 1564, and the day when both he and Cervantes died in 1616, there are more than 500 events all over the city, involving around 400 writers. Things kick off in the morning and carry on until around midnight. Traditionally, you have to give someone a book, and hopefully someone will give you a book in return.
You could go on a free guided walk around the Barrio de las Letras, the neighbourhood where lots of authors lived in Madrid's Golden Age in the 17th century, and where the city's first theatres were situated. These were nothing more than makeshift spaces in courtyards, but plays by some of the most famous Spanish playwrights were staged there, including Lope de Vega, Calderon de la Barca and Quevedo. Now the area is equally famous for its bars and restaurants. The walks leave at 11 am and 7 pm from the tourist office in the Plaza Mayor. Ring to book on +34 91 5882906, or see www.esmadrid.com or www.turismomadrid.es.
This is not for the faint-hearted, but at the Circulo de Bellas Artes (www.circulobellasartes.com), there is a continuous reading of Don Quixote, the great novel by Miguel de Cervantes, by writers, actors, politicians and other well-known figures.
Donna Leon and the French philosopher Andre Glucksmann are giving talks at the Casa de Correos in the Puerta del Sol.
150 bookshops are offering a 10% discount, and writers will be popping in to give talks and sign their books. There will also be concerts, performances and films at all sorts of venues, including cafes, libraries, cultural centres and open spaces all over Madrid. Check out www.lanocheenvivo.com for details.
And keep the receipt of any books you buy, as some of the tapas bars in the Barrio de Las Letras - basically in and around Plaza Santa Ana - are offering a free tapa with a literary theme if you buy a drink and show your receipt!