New Year's Eve in Madrid and Barcelona

In Spain, 31 December is a very special celebration, where the fun and partying go on well into the early hours. If you want to get the year off to a good start, then come and celebrate New Year’s Eve in Madrid and Barcelona. You will have a great time in these two cities eating the traditional 'lucky grapes' - and on into the small hours!

Would you like to know how we see in the New Year in Spain? Eating twelve grapes. Tradition has it that you have to eat them one by one, in time with the striking of the clock at midnight on 31 December. What is more, if you manage to eat all the grapes on time, you are in for a year of prosperity and good luck. It is everyone's most awaited moment on New Year's Eve and the striking of the clock is even broadcast on live television. Whether or not you believe in magic, try the experience – it’s great fun.

The striking of the clock in Puerta del Sol Square

There is one place that is especially famous for this tradition: Puerta del Sol, the square in central Madrid. On this day, family or friends usually get together for a delicious dinner and then have the twelve grapes. In Madrid, thousands of people converge in front of the clock in Puerta del Sol to eat the twelve grapes and see in the New Year. The square turns into one big party and the atmosphere is great. There is confetti and streamers everywhere; music, bangers and trumpets, people dressed up with wigs, hats and masks; and above all, everyone is up for a good time.

In Barcelona, people go out and gather in Plaça de Catalunya square to eat the twelve grapes. If you fancy joining in this celebration to say goodbye to the "old" year, bear in mind that people start to arrive in these places long before midnight to get a good spot, especially in Madrid, where a large crowd gathers.

The party after the grapes

After eating the grapes there is a shared explosion of joy. Bottles of cava are uncorked and everyone toasts with friends, family and the people around. Laughter, jokes, congratulations, good wishes… This is just the beginning though – hours and hours of fun lie ahead. The streets fill with groups of friends and young people, and cars that greet the New Year with their horns. You will see that it is impossible not to be carried away by the general excitement.

At pubs, bars and clubs in both cities there are New Year’s parties with dancing until dawn. There are also many hotels and restaurants that organise special New Year's Eve celebrations, including a special menu for dinner, grapes, dancing and entertainment. If you decide to go for one of these, you should book your table or buy your ticket for the party in advance.

The following day

How long do the New Year celebrations last? Until your body gives up. To finish off the night, before you go to bed, there is nothing better to recover your strength than having the traditional hot chocolate with churros. They taste great at that time of the morning! In Madrid it is traditional to have them in a well-known hot-chocolate bar in the centre, La Chocolatería de San Ginés.

On the following day, New Year's Day, you can take it easy – the shops are closed and most bars and restaurants too. Take the opportunity to walk around the city centre and see how different it looks without the crowds. The parks are also an ideal plan for that day. Madrid has many gardens you can visit, such as El Retiro; in Barcelona you can go to Park Güell, a World Heritage site designed by Gaudí; Montjuic; or La Ciudadela.

Some useful information…

If taking public transport, remember that in Madrid bus and metro services finish earlier than usual on the night of 31 December, and start later on the morning of the 1st. In Barcelona, however, the metro operates non-stop all night. If you prefer to take a taxi on New Year's Eve, it is best to order it in advance by telephone, because there is so much demand.

Enjoy a different New Year's Eve in Madrid and Barcelona, joining in the Spanish traditions. It will be a celebration you will never forget.