New Year’s Eve celebrations in Madrid can be summed up in two words: totally crazy! The parties and festivities can’t seem to start soon enough – or last long enough for locals’ tastes. Actually, the New Year’s Eve holiday is considered a real opportunity to let one’s hair down with friends, as it is buffeted by the more family-oriented holidays of Christmas on December 25 and Three Kings’ Day (known as Spanish Christmas, when Spain’s children traditionally receive their gifts) on January 6.
The Day Before
New Year’s Eve in Madrid essentially starts the day before with the New Year’s Eve rehearsal held in the Puerta del Sol. With lots of lights and the ringing of the famous chimes, it’s almost as well attended as the real event.
Puerta del Sol
The Puerta del Sol is the place all Spanish eyes naturally turn to for New Year’s Eve and partygoers gather there every year for fun and merriment.
The New Year’s Eve holiday is traditionally rung in with the 12 chimes of the clock from the Casa de Correos tower presiding over Madrid’s Puerta del Sol. The event is broadcast on television to millions of people all across Spain who follow along and eat their grapes.
(Note that to keep things under control, the local police confiscate glass bottles from anyone wishing to enter the Puerta del Sol on New Year’s Eve.)
According to Spanish tradition, you will have abundant good luck in the new year if you eat one grape for each of the twelve chimes (doce campanadas) counting down to midnight on New Year’s Eve. Some people even suggest that it’s bad luck not to try.
Managing to eat one grape per chime of the clock is actually a feat few people can do (popping all twelve in your mouth at the same time doesn’t count), but that doesn’t stop millions of Spaniards every year from trying.
As part of the festivities, the Spanish like to liberally wash down their grapes with bottles of cava – the drink known as Spanish champagne from Catalunya.
The good news for party people is that most of Madrid’s bars and nightclubs host their own New Year’s parties, some of which can be quite elaborate and wild. The bad news is that all of them charge a premium price for their parties – expect to pay at least 50 euros per person for the entrance fee and one drink, and even more than that if you’re buying tickets at the door that night.