Monday, 20 October 2014

Madrid Monday: Tapapiés Tapas & Music Festival in Lavapiés

Every October, there's a buzz in the barrio of Lavapiés: the annual Tapapiés festival comes to town. Tapapiés Ruta Multicultural de la Tapa y la Música, to give it its full title, is one of several tapas rutas organized throughout the year in different neighbourhoods around Madrid. Now in its fourth year, Tapapiés has proven one of the most popular.

Not traditionally known for its tapas, Lavapiés plays on its multicultural connections during the ten days of Tapapiés (16–26 October in 2014). Madrid's tapas routes generally work like this: bars in a certain neighbourhood offer a speciality tapa at a knockdown price during the week or so that the event lasts. This is usually combined with a drinks offer, so for example, you could get a botellín of beer and a tapa for €2 or €3. Tapapiés is friendly on the wallet at €1 a tapa and €1 a beer.  And you won't be short of choice either, with 73 participating venues around the barrio. In addition to offering cheap tapas for ten days, there's also a programme of free musical performances around the neighbourhood, with several acts appearing on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

In order to experience Tapapiés, download the map of venues and hit the hood. It's fun to get a group of friends together on a tapas crawl through the area, stopping at bars and restaurants as diverse as Senagalese spot Africa Fusion, Canarian bar Perro Malo and Spanish classic Peñalaire. Each venue's details are listed on the Tapapiés website, and details of their speciality tapa are included. In such a diverse barrio as Lavapiés, you're going to get more for your money than the usual calamares and patatas bravas, let me tell you. Vegetarians may want to plan ahead and see which venues offer meat-free tapas.

As well as sampling tapas from around the barrio, customers also have the chance to vote for their favourite experience on the Tapapiés website. With a lively atmosphere and cheap food and drink, Tapapiés is well worth a visit – and you never know, you may even find a new favourite bar to return to during the rest of the year.

If you aren't around for Tapapiés, you'll probably have to wait until next year to get your tapas festival fix: other Madrid rutas include the city-wide Gastro Festival in FebruaryDe Tapas por La Latina in September, Devora Tapas Salamanca Retiro in early October. But festival or not, there's always plenty of tapas to be found in Madrid, especially in the hotspots of La Latina and Calle Ponzano.

Have you been to Tapapiés or another tapas 'ruta'? What's your favourite area for tapas in Madrid?

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