Like most festivals in Spain, New Year´s Eve, known as Noche Vieja is usually a family affair which takes place at home. Until midnight people tend to stay at home and on the stroke of midnight it is traditional to eat 12 grapes, one on each stroke of the clock to bring good luck for the New Year. This tradition began when after a particularly big grape harvest the king of Spain decided to give everybody grapes to eat on New Year's Eve.
It is traditional to listen to the clock from Puerta del Sol in Madrid, usually via the television. Even young people won't go out with their friends until they have seen the New Year in with their families. Throughout the country there are street parties and special nights in hotels and clubs everywhere. There is a growing trend towards celebrating the New Year in restaurants or clubs where the meal and all-night entertainment are provided. Take note that you would probably need to book in advance for this as they need to prepare for the numbers
Those who live in Madrid congregate in the main square (Puerta del Sol in Madrid) and eat the grapes along with a celebratory bottle of cava then head out into the night until after sunrise. Having said that, according to a Spanish friend in Madrid, this tends to be more popular with the tourists than the actual madrilenos!
For people visiting Spain with the intention of celebrating New Year, make sure that you either bring a crowd of friends and family with you or have some waiting here for you or it could feel quite uneventful. Don't be surprised to walk through some towns on New Year's Eve and discover that all the bars are closed as the staff are at home celebrating with their families.
If you head for the Plaza del Reloj at about eleven thirty, you will find that the council provide party hats, streamers, balloons etc, not to mention the twelve grapes to see the New Year in together in the square. I might add that this is all free, as is the impressive fireworks display that follows.
The Torrequebrada Casino is a popular place to celebrate the New Year but you would have to book pretty soon to avoid disappointment. At the Plaza Mezqita in Arroyo de la Miel, the town hall arranges entertainment with live bands etc. They have two celebrations, the Spanish and then at 1am they all sing and welcome in the New Year for the English.
Wherever you decide to spend New Year in Spain and whatever you decide to do, don't forget to wear the customary red underwear which must be bought for you by someone else!
About The Author
Susan Pedalino is Masters degree qualified in Intercultural Communication and teaching English as a foreign language. Susan regularly writes for Eye on Spain ( eyeonspain eyeonspain ). Having moved to Spain to set up a business and buy property, she has gained invaluable experience in buying off plan property in Spain.