How to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Madrid like a local

How to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Madrid like a local

Ready to welcome 2019 with positivity and good vibes?

Whether you are looking for a truly unforgettable cultural experience or just want to party into the new year, Madrid is a perfect city to spend New Year’s Eve. It has options for all budgets, many Christmas attractions and a vibrant, exciting atmosphere.

As the year draws to a close, we bring you the best plans and ideas on how to celebrate New Year’s Eve in the Spanish capital.


Eat grapes at Puerta del Sol

This is the most famous way to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Madrid. On December 31st, over 20.000 people meet at the iconic Puerta del Sol Square to usher in the new year by eating “the 12 lucky grapes”, one with each chime of the clock at midnight. According to superstition, they symbolize the 12 months ahead, so the goal is to get them all down within 12 seconds to ensure a year full of success and prosperity.

After the last chime fades to silence, the New Year starts off with an impressive pyrotechnic show in front of the Madrid City Hall. The whole event, with fireworks and the countdown, is broadcast live on Spanish television so the entire country gathers with family and friends to watch, eat their green grapes and toast with a glass of champagne or cava.

Also, Spaniards believe that wearing red underwear on New Year’s Eve brings good luck in love!

Puerta del Sol Square, Madrid, Spain


Run the San Silvestre Race

This race is a popular Christmas tradition in Spain to bid farewell to the old year while burning calories. The city hosts many marathons on the evening of December 31st and most of them are open to all runners, so you have the opportunity to choose your route and take part in an authentic Christmas race along with locals from different cities.

The most important and the oldest one is the San Silvestre Vallecana, a 10 km race organized in Vallecas borough, which began in 1964. More than 40.000 runners participate every year and some people wear fancy dress or festive costumes.


Join a free walking tour

There are many incredible places to visit in Madrid during the Christmas time, such as the Plaza Mayor, Gran Vía Street, the Debod Temple, the Royal Palace, San Miguel Market and Sobrino de Botín, the oldest restaurant continuously operating in the world.

If you want to learn the layout of the city, make sure to join a free tour of Madrid. A local guide will take you around the city and show you the best sights and main attractions at no cost. In the end, you are free to pay them what you feel the tour was worth, based on your experience.

It is a great way to indulge in a little insider knowledge and get an understanding of Spanish history and culture from a local perspective while meeting other travellers. If you decide to take a Madrid city tour, we recommend to book online in advance, especially during this high season.


Taste Spanish tapas, churros and turrón

Madrid’s food scene showcases the culinary traditions and cooking styles of all regions of the country. Sample some of the food that they enjoy, such as mussels, cured ham (jamón), chorizo from Northern Spain, tortilla de patatas, or octopus cooked in Galician style. Without trying those, no Spanish gastronomic experience would be complete.

Other popular snacks are croquetas and the famed fried calamari sandwich (known as bocadillo de calamares), which you can taste at Casa María or La Campana, in the heart of the old town.

The best places for tapas frequented by the locals in Madrid are the area between Sol and Plaza de Santa Ana, La Latina neighbourhood, the district of Chueca and San Antón Market.

If you’re travelling on a budget, you might also want to visit Sidrería El Tigre, a bar where you pay only a few euros for the drinks and get a free plate with tapas.

Taste tapas in Madrid

If you’re a sweet-lover, don’t forget to tuck into local grocery stores to stock up low-price souvenirs and popular Christmas sweets such as the traditional turrón. It’s a Spanish nougat confection typically made from almonds and honey. You will find it at every Christmas market.

And, before going to bed after the New Year’s Eve celebration, head to Chocolatería San Ginés for delicious churros (fried-dough pastry) with hot chocolate to sober you up.


Dive into Madrid’s nightlife

As everyone dances, drinks and kisses in 2019, many locals head out to the area around Sol, Chueca and Atocha to celebrate and party. Hit some of Madrid’s top nightclubs, such as Teatro Kapital or Joy Eslava. They’ve got a wild atmosphere with live performances and different styles of music.

These venues get really crowded on New Year’s Eve, so if you want to avoid the touristic places, there are pretty good options far away from the centre such as Fabrik, located in the outskirts of Madrid. For something fancier, check out Opium or La Posada de las Ánimas.

We could give you a lot of reasons to visit Madrid at any time of the year, but if you’re spending New Year’s Eve in the Spanish capital then you’re in for a special treat!

New Year Party in Madrid

For more ideas and tips on things to do during your next stay, check out our free tours in Madrid. There are plenty of interesting spots to see, from world-renowned art museums and galleries to historical sites, parks, theatres, flamenco restaurants, famous sports stadiums and flea markets.


By Kristina Kinson
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