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  • Leisure From the European Capital of Christmas (it's in Madrid) to Vigo: the Spanish destinations that go all out for the holidays

This is the longest long weekend of the year and that deserves a getaway. Or at least enjoy a different plan within your own city. Here are a handful of ideas.

Madrid's art hotel

Many museums do not have as many works as the VP Plaza España Design in Madrid, which has risen to the category of art gallery by having more than 300 original contemporary pieces, including sculptures and paintings, in its facilities. Not surprisingly, he has just presented the catalogue of all of them, brought together under the slogan Dialogue: a conversation between humanity and nature through art. In this way, this five-star hotel located in the heart of the capital invites us to reflect on the connection between both aspects, offering visitors and guests the possibility of taking a guided tour of this private collection, conceived by the general manager of the VP Hotels chain, Javier Pérez, which has five accommodations in Madrid. The works, by national and international authors such as Hèléne Bergaz, Jan Hendrix, Darío Urzay, Nacho Zubelzu or Bryan Ou Yang, appear in every corner of the building: from the lobby, which welcomes with a gigantic gingko, the tree that survived the Hiroshima bomb, to the elevators, the rooms and suites (there is not a single one that does not have a piece), the Gingko Restaurant & Sky Bar (with an original designer Menina, among other creations) or even the car park, which over three floors marks a path to hell. Of course, the jewel in the crown is The Waterfall, signed by the Catalan Pere Gifre, whose works are characterized by mimicry with nature. The impressive 25-metre-high metal waterfall, placed in the building's atrium, can be seen under the glass floor of the rooftop pool and then runs through eight floors. Learn more at www.plazaespana-hotel.com

The work 'The Waterfall', by the artist Pere Gifre.

Porto's Cultural Quarter

WOW, the cultural district of Vila Nova de Gaia, in Porto, is a good destination at any time of the year, but even more so at this time of year close to Christmas, when every corner of this 55,000-square-meter complex built on old wineries on the other side of the Douro River is decorated around a 13-meter-high tree. a merry-go-round, performances by a youth choir, a local handicrafts market, itinerant animations of elves, jugglers and Santa Claus postmen, gingerbread cookies and... liters and liters of chocolate and mulled wine. And all around the seven museums that WOW has (from Design and Fashion to Wine or Porto's own history), as well as the 12 specialised restaurants and cafes (there are Portuguese cuisine, international cuisine, seafood specialisations...), the shops, the Wine School and the exhibition and event space. Not to mention Enchanted Valley, in Lemon Plaza, the area where fairies help create gifts and Santa Claus has his couch to receive letters from children. There is also the cinema corner to watch period films and eat popcorn with the family. On the other hand, next to the Pink Palace museum there is a play area with trampolines, inflatables and face painting, among other things. Learn more at www.wow.pt

Christmas atmosphere at WOW.

The Grand Tour of Catalonia

The following proposal takes us on a 2,000-kilometre circular road trip that connects cultural icons, natural landscapes and food and wine plans in both rural and urban environments. The way forward is to "discover, explore, live, taste and enjoy Catalonia with your own vehicle and at your own pace", according to the heads of the Catalan Tourism Agency, in charge of designing the route, during the presentation of the project in Madrid. Or rather, the routes, since there are two ways to get to know the Grand Tour: through a complete 13-day tour or in five sections, of between five and seven stages/days each. In short, it is "one trip and many trips at the same time", the motto of the project, since everyone can organize it to their liking and travel it at their own pace at any time of the year, choosing in turn the experiences that they most want. From a tasting in a winery in the Penedès to a hot air balloon ride through the Natural Park of the Garrotxa Volcanic Zone in Girona, with more than 40 craters between mountains, to a visit to the set of Romanesque churches in the Bohí Valley in Lleida or an immersion in Dalí's surrealist universe on the Costa Brava, jumping from Figueres to Cadaqués or Cap de Creus. Learn more at http://grandtour.catalunya.com

Dalí's house-museum in Portlligat, on the Costa Brava.

Heading to the Canary Islands from 29 euros

These long weekend days are also perfect for a close getaway in search of warm temperatures and generous doses of sun and beach in the middle of December. And what better place than the Canary Islands, which pride themselves on having the best climate in the world. Not surprisingly, it is the place in Europe with the most hours of sunshine per year, 3,000. The proposal becomes more interesting if you can get flights from Madrid from 29 euros each way. This is the offer to travel to Tenerife or La Palma of Iberia Express, the most punctual low-cost airline in Europe and leader in the routes to the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands, with a total of 129 weekly frequencies in winter. Or 330 flights in total, which is a growth of 16% compared to last year. To Fuerteventura, the cost of the flight is from 30 euros; to Gran Canaria, from 32 and to Lanzarote from 36. Fares are available by purchasing return tickets jointly for Club Express customers, whose registration is free and therefore open to everyone. In addition, the company maintains alliances with tourism entities on the different islands to promote the destination. And one of its main assets is gastronomy. That's why, a few days ago, they held a cooking show in Madrid guided by chef Nelson Pérez, from the renowned Nelson restaurant in Gran Canaria, who took a tour of the flavours of the archipelago with dishes such as soldier shrimp from Mogán, black mouth in prawn oil or amberjack tacos in adobo. Not forgetting the gofio cake. On the other hand, low-cost travellers can enjoy a new Gastroteca Express in economy class during flights, which pays tribute to the Canary Islands through its menu with fresh products and sandwiches made with artisan crystal bread. Learn more at www.iberiaexpress.com and www.holaislascanarias.com

Panoramic view of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.SHUTTERSTOCK

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