The most famous New Year’s tradition in Spain is eating 12 grapes, one for each gong at midnight. It is said that if you manage to eat the dozen grapes in time, you’ll be rewarded with good luck and prosperity for the year ahead. Madrid’s New Year’s Eve celebrations are centred around the Puerta del Sol; revellers pack the square with bottles of cava and punnets of grapes to watch the clock on the old city hall striking midnight. The whole New Year’s countdown and the fireworks that follow are broadcast live on television across the whole of Spain.
If you happen to be staying in an apartment in Madrid, you could spend New Year’s Eve the way most Spaniards do: by cooking a big dinner and sharing it with friends or family. With lots of restaurants closing for the night, many Spaniards enjoy a meal at home before heading out after midnight to bars and clubs to continue the celebrations. Stick to a Spanish schedule and don’t eat too early – 9pm is a good time to serve up the starter. Typical Madrid dishes on New Year’s Eve include prawns, roast lamb or fish, followed by turrón – a nougat-like sweet popular at Christmastime in Spain.
Most young Spaniards ring in the New Year with their families, then head out with friends after midnight to dance the night away. Teatro Kapital, one of Madrid’s biggest clubs, is hosting a New Year’s Eve party with tickets costing €50 with four drinks included. The party starts at 12.30am and runs until 6am across the club’s seven floors. Joy Eslava, a popular Madrid club set in a converted theatre, is hosting a New Year’s Eve party with tickets from €75, and that includes a free bar. Most clubs hold special New Year’s Eve parties that must be booked in advance, so it’s worth doing a bit of research before you go.
Spain’s temple of techno might be a bit of a trek from the centre of the city (it is located in Fuenlabrada, on the outskirts of Madrid; buses leave from Plaza de España every 30 minutes from 11.30pm) but its huge capacity, stretched over two massive hangars, makes for an unforgettable night, and means there’s no volume limit. The club, which has been named one of the top 100 clubs in the world by British magazine DJMag, has welcomed some of the world’s top house and techno DJs, and is popular with both locals and in-the-know visitors. When you want to cool down, relax on the outdoor terrace or grab a drink from one of Fabrik’s seven bars.
This Madrid institution has been going strong for over 50 years and its genre is hard to pin down. From rock and indie gigs to electronic clubbing nights, La Riviera’s schedule is diverse and eclectic, but if you love music, you’re sure to find something you’re into. It is located by the river, a 10-minute walk downhill from the city centre.
If clubbing isn’t your scene and you have a few hundred euros to play with, consider attending a New Year’s Eve party at one of Madrid’s swankiest hotels. Both The Ritz and the Westin Palace hold New Year’s Eve galas, which include multi-course gourmet meals followed by dancing and entertainment. The Westin Palace also offers a New Year’s Day opera brunch, a sumptuous meal accompanied by entertainment from some of Spain’s best opera singers.
From the Christmas Market on the Plaza Mayor to Madrid’s many excellent food markets, there are lots of stalls to explore on New Year’s Eve. Head to Plaza de España to check out Madrid’s Arts and Crafts Fair, with stalls from across Spain selling handmade products that could make excellent souvenirs or presents from your festive trip to Madrid.
There are few more romantic spots than Madrid’s Debod Temple, an ancient Egyptian temple that was given to Spain as a gift in the 60s after it helped Egypt save important historical relics from being destroyed by flooding during the construction of the Aswan High Dam. It’s a great spot to take a bottle of cava and watch the sun rise on 2018.
For a quintessentially Spanish end to the night, head to Chocolatería San Ginés, a churro and chocolate bar in Madrid that is open 24 hours a day. Whatever time you roll out of the bars and clubs, there’ll be a steaming cup of hot chocolate and some freshly made churros waiting for you. Yum!