Five Spanish New Year traditions to bring luck for 2023

Celebrating 'Nochevieja' in Spain? Here is The Local's guide to ensuring you start 2023 with as much good fortune as possible.

Five Spanish New Year traditions to bring luck for 2023
A couple eats grapes to celebrate New Year's Eve on the Puerta Del Sol square in Madrid, just one of the Nochevieja traditions that Spain has. (Photo by Rebeca MAYORGA / AFP)

Spain has more than a few traditions that are meant to bring good fortune and love, and all of them can be upheld even if this New Year’s fiesta is just in the company of close friends and family.

12 lucky grapes

As midnight approaches on New Year’s Eve, everyone across Spain will be clutching a very important talisman: 12 grapes to bring luck and fortune throughout the coming year.

It’s essential for each grape to be popped in the mouth on the dong of each stroke of midnight, no mean feat when you are surrounded by giggling friends in a crowd of people.

To make things easier, supermarkets sell cans containing 12 small, seedless grapes, perfect for popping in your pocket and keeping them to hand wherever you decide to celebrate.

READ MORE: Why the Spanish see in the New Year by gobbling up 12 grapes

You have to eat 12 grapes when the bells chime at midnight, but it’s advisable to eat one grape at a time. (Photo by AFP)

Toast with cava

Of course all of Spain raises a glass of Cava to toast in the New Year (Once the grapes have all been gobbled) and tradition has it that for that extra chance of the year ahead bringing prosperity, drop a gold object into the glass before the toast.

A gold wedding ring or gold coin will do the trick, but if it’s love you crave, some say dropping in a red fruit such as a strawberry or raspberry will make sure you meet that special person.

Remember – for the charm to work make sure to down the cava in one gulp.

READ ALSO: Seven great Spanish tipples to enjoy over Christmas

Cava is similar to champagne, just don’t tell the French that. (Photo by JAIME REINA / AFP)

Wear red underwear

Talking of love, the only sure-fire way of Cupid shooting an arrow in your direction during 2023 is to make sure you are decked out in red underwear to see in the new year. Some say that it only works if the undies were a gift, while others firmly believe you have to give them away before daybreak if the magic is to work.

Ring in the new year in style with some sexy red underwear. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP)

Start the year on the right foot

In Spain, tradition dictates that you literally have to start the year on the right foot. And that means not only taking the first step after midnight with your right foot but putting your right foot forward for every important first that day whether it be stepping into your house when you come home from New Year’s Eve celebrations and stepping out in the morning.

Don’t kick off the new year on the wrong foot in Spain. (Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP)

Eat lentils

A dish of hearty lentils on New Year’s Day isn’t just great for the hangover it is also said to bring you luck. Normally served in a stew with chorizo, the lentils are said to represent small coins, designed once again to bring wealth and prosperity in the year ahead.

READ ALSO:  The essential A to Z of Spanish Christmas vocabulary 

A hearty dose of lentils should also help fight off that New Year’s Eve hangover. Photo: Brooke Larke/Unsplash

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The New Year’s Eve events taking place in Spain’s main cities

Whether you want to party with the masses in the main squares, catch a local firework display, cruise down a river on a boat or say goodbye to 2022 with an epic race, here are the Nochevieja events taking place around Spain.

The New Year’s Eve events taking place in Spain’s main cities

From the Basque Country to Andalusia, Spain’s cities will each be seeing in the New Year in a unique way. 

We have scoured the internet for advertised events taking place across España for Nochevieja, but even if your city or town isn’t included on this list, you can usually expect firework displays and people gathering in the town centre to party and have their 12 grapes, as the Spanish tradition goes.

The main event in Madrid is of course at Puerta del Sol, which will be returning once again this year. Around 20,000 people typically gather for the New Year’s event which this year will include music, dancing, fireworks, confetti cannons and the countdown on the famous clock of the Real Casa de Correos.

People celebrate New Year’s Eve on the Puerta Del Sol square in Madrid, on December 31st 2021. (Photo by Rebeca MAYORGA / AFP)

Celebrations will return to Avenida de la Reina Maria Cristina and the Fuente Mágica de Montjuïc near Plaza d’Espanya. Music, fireworks, monumental scenery and technological innovation will come together for the much-anticipated event. The Magic Fountain will begin its dance of music, water and lights at 9:30pm, then at 11:48pm, there will be a display of more than 200 drones, celebrating various cultures from around the world. The evening will culminate in a 12-minute firework display.

After two years of suspension due to the pandemic, the big New Year’s celebration at Valencia’s Ayuntamiento (town hall) returns. In the daytime, there will be special events for kids and a celebration at noon, while the main party for the adults will begin at 10:30pm. There will be performances by DJs Ele Dj and Paulens, as well as a magnificent firework display accompanied by music.

See in the New Year at Plaza de la Constitución, where the Málaga town hall will be giving out free party bags to the first 2,000 revellers. There will also be live music leading up to the famous midnight chimes.

There will be lots of events on for Nochevieja in Seville, but if you’re after something a little different, then one of the best alternatives is a midnight river cruise to see 2023 in on a boat floating down the river Guadalquivir. Many of the boats have live performances, including dancing, music and of course food.  

new year's eve seville

Cruise into 2023 on the Guadalquivir in Seville. (Photo by GOGO LOBATO / AFP)

The Córdoba City Council is planning a big celebration in Plaza de las Tendillas this year to make up for the lack of celebrations during the previous two. It will include a variety of children’s activities in the daytime, followed by the grand New Year’s Eve party from 10pm onwards. 2023 will be welcomed in with live musical performances as well as the traditional chimes.  

Palma de Mallorca
As well as the regular parties and fireworks, Palma de Mallorca will be celebrating La Fiesta del Estandarte. It is held every year on December 31st and commemorates when the city was captured Jaime I of Aragón’s troops during the conquest of the island of Mallorca that began in 1229. Events include reading official proclamations and floral offerings.

There will be double celebrations in Alicante this year in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. From 11am to 1pm there will be a Children’s Cotillion with entertainment and games and then the real party will begin at 11pm and go on through the night until 4am. Grapes will be given out for free in time for the midnight chimes and there will also be an orchestra performance.  

Jerez de la Frontera
The new year will be welcomed in style in Jerez. Bars and squares typically fill up from noon but the main event will be held in the Plaza del Arenal starting at 11pm. 

Playa de Levante and Avenida de Bilbao will be the centre of the fiestas in Benidorm, which will be extra big this year after the last two years of Covid. The event will attract more than 5,000 people and will begin at 6pm for a night of music and performances, until the big countdown at midnight. There will also be a second celebration at 1am, when the bells will be broadcast live from Big Ben in London, so that Brits can see in in the UK New Year too.

Expect a British-themed NYE party in Benidorm. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)

Vitoria i Gasteiz
In the Basque capital, New Year’s celebrations will be hosted by EITB media company in Plaza Nueva, from where the party will be broadcast live too. There will be an official firework display, as well as music and celebrity presenters.

San Silvestre Vallecana, Madrid
And finally, if partying and music are not your cup of tea and you’d prefer to see in the New Year with a healthy start, you can take part in (or watch) one of the most important races in Spain – La San Silvestre Vallecana. It’s a 10km route taking place along some of the main streets in Madrid. There are two different parts to the race, one that anyone over 10 years old can take part in and the other for 1,000 professional international runners who can run the route in under a set time. La San Silvestre is replicated across many parts of Spain on December 31st and January 1st, so make sure to google it if you want to get 2023 to a flying start.

san silvestre race spain
Kick up a sweat before you eat the grapes this NYE in Spain. Photo: PromoMadrid / Max Alexander/Wikipedia

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra to be broadcast live in cinemas around Spain
If you don’t feel like going out and partying, you can always have a civilised evening out at the cinema. The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra will be broadcasting a live musical performance starting at 5:30pm at 29 different cinemas in 21 different locations across Spain. This will include Madrid, Valencia, Alicante, Oviedo, Zaragoza, Albacete, Vigo, Sevilla, Jaén, El Puerto de Santa María, Fuengirola, Málaga, Córdoba, Vélez-Málaga, Mairena de Aljarafey, Jerez, Bilbao, Vitoria i  Gasteiz, Barcelona, Amposta and Palma de Mallorca. The concert will feature the tenor Jonas Kaufmann, as well as music Giuseppe Verdi and Pietro Mascagni.