The Christmas lights are on in Madrid, 500,000 more than last year; seven large trees are going up around the city and one of the largest nativity scenes in Europe has been installed at the AZCA centre in Nuevos Ministeros.

Security is also a priority in the city, with 26 cameras set up in Plaza Mayor and more local and national police out on the streets from mid-December. Road safety is being stepped up with more speed checks and breathalyzer tests against drunken driving than usual. The festivities, which last until 6 January, are expected to cost 8.2 per cent more this year than last, with families spending on average 1,154 over the Christmas period, according to the consumers and users federation.