Each year, the Puerta del Sol becomes the epicenter of New Year's Eve for all of Spain. Thousands of people from all over the globe crowd into the square on December 31st, ready to see in the New Year and eat their lucky grapes, as the clock on the Real Casa de Correos building strikes twelve.
The lucky grapes
It is not just in Spain where the old year gets sent off with a particular kind of food, but Spain is the only place with a tradition that involves eating grapes. There are various theories about the origin of this custom, but the one most favoured by Spaniards places the tradition's birth in 1909. Wine producers from the Levante had such an excess of grapes that they decided to share their fruit with everyone, suggesting that eating the grapes on New Year's Eve would bring good luck. A century later, the success of this unusual campaign is still evident, as people all over Spain eat twelve grapes while the Puerta del Sol clock is striking twelve, to symbolize good luck for each of the twelve months of the year.
The clock at the Real Casa de Correos was made and donated by José Rodríguez Losada, and was inaugurated by Queen Isabel II on November 19, 1866. For many years, this clock was used as the country's official time standard, so it is fitting that it should be the one to ring in the New Year. And there's nothing better than being there in person for the event!
The sounds and movements of the clock striking midnight on December 31 are a televised ritual. A few seconds before 12am, the ball on the top of the tower falls, accompanied by the sounds of the carillon. Then the four quarters ring, followed by the strokes of midnight, the separation between the twelve chimes being just long enough for the grapes to be swallowed.
But now the night is just beginning, and this is a night when few in Madrid will get much sleep. There are just too many parties to choose from, to welcome the New Year with happiness and good cheer.
New Year's Eve parties
The city's best clubs will be pulling out all the stops for the celebrations, with special New Year parties where all drinks are included. A friendly atmosphere, great music and the party spirit are the ingredients that make any December 31 spent in Madrid an unforgettable experience. The Círculo de Bellas Artes throws one of the city´s most famous New Year´s parties, in a superb building just a few meters from the Puerta del Sol. Also nearby is Joy Eslava.
New Year's Day
What better way to start the year than dancing? And you don't need to stay up all night after a big dinner. In recent years a new trend has been taking off: welcoming the New Year in daylight, with daytime parties that often run on into the night of the 1st.