Those headed to the 2023 edition of Mad Cool festival are set to see some of the biggest names in music take to the stage this year, with slots from Liam Gallagher, Lizzo, Lil Nas X, Rina Sawayama and many more all lined up..
However, say you’re looking to take a break from back-to-back electric performances, or have some free time planned before or after the festival, Madrid has a lot to offer that makes it one of Europe’s biggest hubs for music, food and culture.
Here are NME’s top choices of things to do while in Madrid that will make your Mad Cool experience the best it can be.
1. Chow down at some of the amazing local restaurants
Spain is known for its array of mouth-watering local dishes and, luckily for us, many of them are located right in the heart of Madrid. While on-site food trucks offer a variety of Asian, Latin American, Italian and local cuisines — as well as plenty of veggie and vegan options — the best regional dishes are available throughout the city. Our personal picks for the top spot include La Rayúa Gran Vía and Viva Madrid bistro — both restaurants known to showcase traditional dishes in a way that will leave you wanting more.
2. Check out the historical art
When taking a break from the electrifying performances from this year’s Mad Cool lineup, what better way to unwind than by exploring some of the historical art spots dotted around the city. Take a ponder around Liria Palace for a more traditional experience – an Ornate 18th-century palace filled with classic art, furnishings and tapestries, or for a more quirky alternative, venture into Matadero Madrid, a former slaughterhouse turned contemporary art centre that offers a variety of exhibitions, performances and cinema experiences.
3. Uncover some hidden gems in the local markets
Whether after street food, books, clothes or jewellery, the local markets darted around Madrid offer an assortment of one-of-a-kind options that you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else. Both San Fernando Market and El Rastro flea market are our top choices, and a must-visit for anyone who didn’t pack appropriately for Madrid’s sunny weather — or even better, for those who forgot to pack that spare pair of socks.
4. Take a spin on the Mad Cool Ferris wheel
What better way to get an overall feel for the atmosphere in Madrid than by seeing the entire city all at once — what’s more you could even take it all in without even having to leave the festival site. This comes as this year’s instalment sees the return of the iconic Mad Cool Ferris wheel, a great option for those only staying for the duration of the festival (or those too captivated by the killer performances to stray too far from the site).
5. Discover some of the regional opera houses and theatres
As previously mentioned, Madrid is one of the hottest spots for music in Europe, with Mad Cool also providing a platform for the most exciting new talent at this year’s edition. That being said, the culture in the city extends far beyond the music world, and also openly celebrates all forms of creativity, including stage performances. Countless spots for plays, musicals and operas are rife throughout the centre, and well worth a visit before your visit comes to a close. One of our top picks is Teatro La Latina — a smaller venue than many of its siblings, but rich in history and personality.