In the months of May and June, many Madrid-based families spend their spare time out of doors enjoying the warm sunshine and long evenings. One of the top destinations for a family excursion is the gorgeously shady Retiro Park to visit the annual book fair (La Feria del Libro).
The fair, now in its 77th edition, is a local tradition not to be missed. From 25th May to 10th June, young readers, their parents and grandparents congregate around the book stalls to discover the latest titles from their favourite authors. The fair offers discounts on books, workshops, signings, screenings, street entertainers, talks and – of course – food. Entry is free and rarely do you leave empty-handed.
KIM loves the visiting countries
The visiting country this year is Romania, with Spain being the biggest market of literature translated from Romanian in the world. The theme underpinning their cultural offering at the book fair is “historia por descubrir, historias por escribir”– history to be discovered, stories to be written – and includes films, photography, literature and non-fiction from that country.
Romania occupies stalls 115-116 at the fair and offering a full programme of over 100 events including music, cinema, documentaries, photography and literature. The children’s events start on Friday 25th of May at 18h with the “Ferbonia” workshop in Romanian for children aged 7-12. On Saturday 26th of May at 19:30h there is a storytelling session in Romanian for children aged 3 to 8. On Sunday 27th of May at 19:30h there is a creative writing class for children aged 8 to 14, in Spanish, led by Adina Popescu and Mariana Achim.
KIM loves the storytelling
On weekdays from 11h to 14h and again from 18h to 21h (Sat & Sun 11-15h; 17h-21:30h) continuous children’s entertainment is offered in the Pabellón Infantíl. Although almost exclusively in Spanish, these shows are visual, didactic and accessible no matter your grasp of the Spanish language. Taking inspiration from the many deep, dark forests that can be found in Romania and also in children’s literature, the marquee this year has been decked out as a forest, where visitors will find spaces for vampires (fictional Count Dracula came from Romania, after all), fairytale characters wandering through the woods and other contemporary tree-dwelling peoples.
At time of publication, the timetable for shows in the Pabellón Infantíl (Children’s Marquee) had not been published, but can be found here
KIM loves the Young Person’s marquee
Aimed at 14-30 year olds, this marquee promises to be the place to be for young adults during the fair. An ambitious programme has been drawn up that includes round table discussions with booktubers and bookstagrammers on 2nd June, and the “battle of the illustrators” on 9th June where well-known artists such as Ana Pez, Ester García, Cinta Arribas and María Laura Brenlla show off their styles and tricks of the trade. Also on the 9th of June there will be a masterclass on Japanese comics by translator Marc Bernabé. Activities come to a close on that Saturday with a debate about videogames and fantasy fiction with Isaac Lopez and Josep Sempere among others.
KIM loves the Digital Content marquee
Despite being a showcase for Samsung’s latest products, this marquee never fails to provide surprising insights into e-learning through digital formats. This year they have teamed up with the National Arqueological Museum (MAN) to provide a virtual tour of historical episodes and the Theatre Royal for a virtual tour of the theatre. The young people working in this marquee have a keen interest in showing how technology can work side by side with books. They convincingly argue that there is room for both in 21st century culture.
KIM loves the international bookstores
Every year sees an abundance of children’s booksellers and publishers at the fair, offering everything from board books, first readers and fiction to non-fiction, action, themed, comics and graphic novels for readers aged 0-18 years old. Among the stalls offering children’s books in English are Booksellers (stall 38), El Dragón Lector (stall 109), Kirikú y La Bruja (stall 80) and Teran Libros (stall 190). Look out for authors and illustrators who hang around these stalls and often spontaneously sign or sketch on books to the delight of young onlookers.
KIM loves the photo exhibition
As the stalls thin to one passageway towards the centre of the fair, the adjacent space is always filled with large photographic displays, which over the past couple of years have focussed on environmental impact and climate change. For our digital children, the novelty of looking at printed photographs is not lost on their analogue parents! Definitely worth seeking out this exhibition whilst at the fair. It never fails to engage youngsters and adults alike.
So get out with your family this spring to visit the Feria del Libro in Retiro Park. If you are looking for other activities in Madrid, visit our activities in Madrid section.