Why this Spanish village celebrates New Year’s Eve in August

As if they'd had a premonition of what was to come 28 years in the future, this Andalusian village has not had to cancel New Year celebrations because they have their countdown and grape-eating in early August. Here's the fascinating reason why.

Bérchules New Year's in August
Bérchules held its first estival New Year's party on August 6th 1994. Stock photo: Mabel Flores/Flickr

As the rest of Spain and most of the world make their final preparations for restricted (or cancelled) New Years plans, there is one village in rural Andalucia that won’t be.

And they never do, in fact. Not in December, anyway.

Why not? Because they celebrate the New Year in August.

Hidden away high in the Alpujarras region of Andalusia in Granada province, Bérchules has, for the last 28 years, celebrated New Year’s in August.

The story goes back to New Year’s Eve 1993, when party preparations were well underway and the town awaited ‘94.

But sometime that evening, just a few hours before midnight, bad weather caused a power cut that left the village in the dark as locals  prepared for the new year countdown.

Bérchues, which has a population of just over 700 people, on any day other than August 6th. Photo: Erik Korsten/Flickr

Bérchules eventually held its New Year’s party on August 6th 1994, hoping to recover not only the festive spirit but some of the lost hospitality earnings, and the move has become a tradition since.

In recent years, the strange custom has attracted visitors: it is estimated as many as 10,000 now attend the August New Year’s bash, in a pueblo of around 700.

Much of the year is spent planning for the summer celebration: preparations for the party begin as early as January, and as August is historically a month full of fiestas in Spain, in a town so small hosting a party so big with just one road in and one road out, it’s important they get everything right. 

Despite taking place in August, during the notoriously hot Andalusian summer, the people of Bérchules still have all the typical Christmas traditions of the holiday season.

Polverones, turrones, and mantecados are all enjoyed, as there are 3,000kg of them to supply the high summer demand in Bérchules.

They even have the Three Wise Men on horseback, and grapes are sold a dozen a piece for those wishing to stick with Spain’s New Year tradition, while a small shop sells Santa hats and reindeer horns. 

Bérchules’ August New Year celebrations are so popular, and such a draw for outsiders, that the Andalusian government has recognised the tradition as an official Festival of Tourism Interest.

However this year, with Covid-19 infections rising and restrictions reintroduced across the country, the age-old Spanish tradition of bunching up in the central square to eat twelve grapes as the town hall bells chime at midnight was banned. Locals had to do it at home this year.

There was also a socially-distanced, masked parade complete with a brass band and the Three Wise Men.

So it seems that whether it’s in August or December, big congregations of people outdoors as is so common in Spain’s local festivals, will never quite be what it was until Covid-19 is well and truly a thing of the past. Here’s to hoping that happens in 2022!

Article by Conor Faulkner, who coincidently was born on the exact same day as Bérchules experienced the power cut that led to its estival New Year’s tradition. 

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What are the fines for not picking up dog poo in Spain?

It's one of the biggest gripes of foreigners living in Spain: dog mess on the street. But what are the fines for not picking it up in Spain?

What are the fines for not picking up dog poo in Spain?

According to the Spain’s National Institute of Statistics (INE), 40 percent of Spanish households have a dog. 

In fact, the Spanish have more dogs than they do children: while there are a little over 6 million children under the age of 14 in Spain, there are over 7 million registered dogs in the country, and if you live in Spain, you’ll likely known that walking the Spanish streets can feel a little like doing an obstacle course due to sheer amount of dog mess.

The latest estimates suggest it’s as much as 675,000 tonnes of doodoo that has to be cleaned up every single year in Spain.

More responsible dog owners in Spain carry around a bottle of water mixed with detergent or vinegar to clean up their dog’s urine and small plastic bags to pick up number twos, but many seem to either turn a blind eye or somehow miss it and leave it for someone to step in.

READ ALSO: Does Spain have a dog poo problem?

Doggy DNA

The problem has become so bad in some places that in many Spanish regions doggy DNA databases have been created to catch the culprits. Over 35 Spanish municipalities require dog owners to register their pets’ saliva or blood sample on a genetic database so they can be traced and fined, if necessary. 

You can find a list of all the municipalities in Spain that DNA test dog poo here.

If you’re actually caught letting your dog do its business in the street and not cleaning it up (which is rare, more on that below), technically speaking, authorities you can be sanctioned with fines (multas) ranging from €30 all the way up to €1,500 for repeat offendences, in some in cities.

In fact, there are eight cities in particular where dog poo penalties can be particularly pricey and exceed €500: Madrid, Albacete, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Las Palmas, Badajoz, Cuenca, Huelva and Girona.

How much are the fines in different parts of Spain?

READ ALSO: Clean or dirty? How does your city rank on Spain’s cleanliness scale? 


In Madrid, fines can range from €751 to €1,500 for repeat offenders.


Barcelona, not picking up dog poop warrants a fine of €300, which increase to €900 if it occurs in certain areas such as a playground.


In Alicante, fines go up to €300.


In Murcia, they range from €30 to €300.

Canary Islands

In Santa Cruz de Tenerife, fines can be as high as €900, and in Las Palmas up to €750.


In Palma de Mallorca it can be as high as €750


In the southern Andalusian city, fines can set you back anything from €75- €500.


In Valencia, the fines can be anything up to €750 for repeat offenders.

Enforcement issues?

Yet despite these hefty fines, it seems that very few local authorities in Spain actually dish out dog poo fines.

Looking at official municipal data from 2019, for example, most provincial capitals (31) did not impose more than 10 sanctions throughout the entire year, and in some cities, not a single person was fined, including in Jaén, Tarragona, Teruel and Zamora.

According to Spanish newspaper El País, in Barcelona – an enormous city with almost 200,000 dogs – only 41 people were fined in the whole of 2022. It’s safe to say that there were more than 41 dog poos that weren’t cleaned up that year, so it seems that fining lazy dog owners doesn’t seem a pressing priority in Barcelona nor across the rest of the country.

Despite this, as a dog owner, it’s your responsibility to clean up after it and make sure you’re not adding to the problem. You never know when it might be your turn to accidentally step in one or when you may be caught and slapped with a hefty fine.