With these Madrid bullfighting tips you will experience the event like a local. Thanks to this practical advice you will turn a once in a lifetime activity into an afternoon you will never forget.
Madrid bullfighting tips #1: Buy your tickets ahead of time
Assuming there will be a bullfighting event in Madrid while you are there, get your bullfight tickets soon as you know the dates of your trip.
- The Madrid bullfighting season is not as long as you can imagine. There won’t be a bullfight every day you plan to stay in Madrid. Actually, there may not be a bullfight at all.
- Considering this, tickets for some bullfights (particularly for certain events such as the Feria de San Isidro or the Feria de Otoño) are quickly sold out.
- The sooner you start looking for tickets the higher chance of getting what you want in terms of dates, prices and seating options.
So don’t rest on your laurels!
Where and how can your get your tickets?
It’s very easy. Purchase your tickets online and you will avoid long lines, the language barrier at the ticket office, and the risk of not having tickets for the bullfight you are interested in.
Here is a complete guide to help you get your Madrid bullfight tickets in a breeze.
You will learn where you can purchase them and, most importantly, how to choose the best seats at Las Ventas bullring!
Madrid bullfighting tips #2: Bring your aficionado kit to Las Ventas
You may be tempted to compare going to a bullfight in Madrid with going to a sports event or to a concert.
Well… Let me tell you that it has little to do, other than you will be in a huge arena with some other 23,000+ people.
Contrary to a theater or to a basketball court, you are going to be seating outside, which means that you rely on the weather. It may be hot and sunny, or it could be cold and wet (yes, springs in Madrid can be humid). So, my advice is to wear clothing appropriate for any eventuality.
Here is what I consider the most practical and useful bullfight aficionado kit:
- Cushion, or something soft to sit on. Las Ventas, like most bullrings, does not have proper seats – these are just hard concrete stairs, nothing fancy… To put it bluntly, they are narrow and very uncomfortable. So it will be nice to spend a couple of hours seated on something comfortable.
- Sandwiches or any other snack you want to bring in case you want to grab a bite. Remember that in Madrid bullfights start relatively late in the afternoon, so the event may overlap your usual dinner time.
- The easiest and cheapest option is to bring your own food to Las Ventas. You can eat and drink freely at the bullring, no one is going to check your bag or backpack at the entrance.
- Alternatively, you can buy drinks and snacks from the salesmen that walk around the grandstands in between fights.
- The last option is to go to one the bars located in the corridors, but make sure you are back at your seat in time.
- White handkerchief to demonstrate your approval of a fight by waving it at the president. This way you are showing your appreciation of the matador‘s good job and you are asking the president to award the matador a trophy.
- Hat and sunscreen, which will prove particularly useful if you happen to seat in the Sun section (sol) of Las Ventas.
- Fan (abanico) if it’s a hot day. A fan is not just an accessory for women. Men use them too to cool themselves or gallantly fan their companions and girlfriends.
- Small binoculars to watch the action. Low-priced bullfight tickets gets you a seat far away from action. This sometimes won’t let you watch the bullfight clearly on the field, and that’s when a good pair of binoculars comes into play.
- Umbrella (or a waterproof jacket) if the weather looks rainy or stormy. Even if it’s raining cats and dogs, the bullfight won’t be cancelled, so it’s better to be prepared for any eventuality.
Obviously, none of this is mandatory, but it will make your experience much more pleasant.
Madrid bullfighting tips #3: Go to Las Ventas 1 hour before the bullfight
The atmosphere around Las Ventas before a bullfight is in full swing – hordes of people heading towards the bullring, huge crowds waiting outside the venue, and lots of vendors pretty much everywhere.
Experiencing the previous moments before a bullfight is something you should not miss.
Getting to the bullring about an hour before the event starts allows you to:
- Take pictures of the outside of the bullring, which is an absolutely impressive construction. And take pictures of people too. You have plenty of subjects to choose from (e.g. vendors, aficionados, ticket scalpers) and lots of things going on.
- Grab a pre-bullfight drink, just like locals do, in a “bullfighting bar” (bar taurino). There is a good dozen of them, particularly around Calle Alcalá and the surrounding streets. Here Madrileños aficionados gather beforehand to have a chat about the upcoming event and predict how the bullfight is going to be.
- Await the arrival of the toreros. They usually do so about half an hour before the bullfight starts. Look for the crowds of autograph-seekers, as they will be waiting at the gate the toreros use to enter the bullring. This gate is located in Avenida de los Toreros, between a very prominent gate and the Museo Taurino.
Madrid bullfight tips #4: Understand your ticket
Your Madrid bullfight ticket is key to find your seat on your own.
The 4 main pieces of information on your ticket related to your seat are:
- Tendido: the bullring sector where your seat is.
- Puerta: the gate you need to access your tendido through.
- Fila: row of seating.
- Número: seat number.
If you don’t speak Spanish, or don’t feel confident of understanding the bullring staff member, don’t worry. Finding your seat on your own will take you a few minutes but it is not hard.
That is why you need to get to Las Ventas some time in advance.
Madrid bullfighting tips #5: Enter Las Ventas with time to get to your seat
As soon as you arrive to Las Ventas you will be surprised by the enormity of the bullfighting venue.
The Madrid bullring is a maze – it’s full of gates, corridors, stairs and the seats grandstands are divided into several sections (e.g. tendido alto, tendido bajo,…).
It is very easy to get lost and it will take you some time to get to your seat. And let me warn you: if you get late, you won’t be allowed to access the tendido (seating section) once the first bull has entered the arena. So you will have to wait in the corridor until the first fight is over.
The good news is that the bullring is round, so you will always find you way in the main corridors (lower and upper).
This is what I recommend you to do:
- Half an hour before the bullfight begins, locate your entrance gate (as I just mentioned, this information is on your ticket). There should not be a lot of people in line yet, but if you see a long line to enter, wait with the others. As time goes on the line will be longer – Madrileños tend to wait until the last minute to access the bullring.
- Once you get to the turnstile, show the bullring staff member your tickets and ask him for some directions to get to your seat. You will not regret it.
Madrid bullfight tips #6: If you don’t find your seat, ask for help
Las Ventas is a very big venue and it is extremely easy to get lost. Thus, don’t underestimate the time it will take you to get to your seat.
First, make sure you identify the gate you need to use to access the bullring.
Once inside, look for the information signs. The numbers of the tendidos bajos and tendidos altos are written above the gateways in the passageway:
- Gradas, andanadas and palcos are located high above so look for a staircase.
- Palcos are always near the main entrance.
Now, navigate throughout the corridors until you find the inside gate (named “puerta” on your Madrid bullfight ticket) leading to the bullring section (tendido) where your seat is.
Finally, now that you are in the grandstands, look for your row (or “fila“) and your seat number (“número” or “nº“). The rows are very narrow, and the seats’ labeling is usually hard to find.
So, ask for help.
Whenever you feel you don’t know where you are or where you should go, ask around. There will always be someone happy to help.
Don’t waste a precious time – the bullfight will start right on time!