New Year’s Eve in Barcelona
Regional traditions and the best NYE parties…
By Duncan Rhodes
Don’t know what to do in Barcelona for New Year’s Eve? Then keep reading to find out the local traditions, info on attending the public fireworks display, and of course the best places to party the night away in style (as well as more civilised options, like dinners and flamenco concerts).
It’s the planet’s biggest party night and rest assured Barcelona doesn’t disappoint when it comes to seeing in el año nuevo or el nou any in style. And of course, this being Catalonia, we do it in our own special way!
New Year’s Eve Traditions
Just as Catalonia has some of the weirdest Christmas customs in the world, we’ve also got several quirky regional traditions that make celebrating New Year’s Eve in Barcelona completely unique.
Grapes & Red Pants
The most famous is the eating of 12 grapes on the 12 strokes leading up to midnight, a practice popular throughout Spain. That’s one a second and harder than it sounds… they say if you can successfully cram all 12 pieces of fruit in your mouth in time with the chimes, and without spilling any, then you’re going to have a great upcoming year.
Another tradition is that of wearing red underwear on the night… the origins of this one are unknown to us at Barcelona Life, but again it’s supposed to be lucky, and a good excuse to enquire about the intimate garments of any sexy-looking chic@s you meet on the night.
The only other essential tradition to abide by is to drink lots and lots of Cava… aka Spanish champagne.
A Family Affair
Another thing that is a bit different in Catalonia is that NYE is a bit more orientated towards the family than in many other parts of the world, at least up until midnight. Many locals will eat dinner first with their families and toast the New Year with Cava at midnight, before heading out to meet friends at bars and clubs in the early hours. That means many some late night spots start their parties after midnight, as the locals won’t be joining until a bit later. This is Barcelona remember so nothing will be shutting early and there’s no need to hurry!
Since 2013, the city has followed in the footsteps of mega-cities like London, Sydney and New York by throwing a massive public celebration, replete with music, midnight countdown, fireworks display, and even spectacular displays of Catalan cultural traditions like the amazing castellers (human towers). The action takes place by the Magic Fountain, just near Placa Espanya and is always packed. It usually starts at 11pm and finishing at around 12:30am.
Of course if you don’t fancy hanging out in the cold, or if you are not easily impressed by pyrotechnics, there will be plenty of pubs, bars and clubs throwing epic bashes that you can join (hint: you’ll find a list of the best below on this very page!), where many of the great Catalan New Year’s Eve traditions will be upheld.
Even if some locals don’t join in until later, the large number of resident foreigners, expats and travellers means every major venue will be heaving all night long.
New Year’s Eve Parties 2018/2019
Now you know the traditions, it’s time to track down the action… here are some of the best options to check out on the night. There’s something for everyone from crazy parties, to more civilised concerts and dinners.
The Original NYE Barcelona Pub Crawl
A new offer for 2018/19, it’s about time someone organised a pub crawl for this time of the year! In fact, the experienced team behind this event organise 1000s of pub crawls around Europe, but they’ve decided to throw on this special party for the biggest night of the year. The tickets are €69 and they include two hours of drinking at an open bar (including long drinks and Spanish sangria), complimentary Cava, a chance to see the fireworks and free VIP entrance at a nightclub by the beach. The best part will be the chance to meet and mingle with fellow fun-loving party-goers as you paint the town red… tickets are limited so best to book them in advance via Get Your Guide.
For an evening of tradition and culture, there are few better ways to spend the 31st December than at a flamenco concert. El Palacio de Flamenco is easily one of the best tablaos in the city, and will open its doors all night, putting on three amazing shows of Spanish passion and duende at different times. You can also choose to see the show with a delicious tapas or paella dinner. Given the date, and the limited seating capacity (the concerts take place in a delightful converted 1920s theatre), you should definitely book your tickets in advance! If they have sold out, then you could try one of Barcelona’s other great flamenco venues.
Belushi’s Free Pre-Party
“Be smart, and get a head start!” say Belushi’s as they open their doors from 7pm and help Barcelona’s party animals get in the mood for the night ahead. They kick off proceedings with an extended happy hour where you can take advantage of 2-for-1 mixed drinks and filthy cheap bottles of Cava. Resident DJs will be rounding up of 2018’s biggest tunes to get you in the mood. With one of the largest travellers’ hostels in the same building, this will be a young and wild jumpstart to 2019.
See the New Year in in style at this suave lounge bar in the Raval district, a hip meeting place of both international and local revellers. Guest DJs will be spinning the tunes all night and your ticket also gets you a welcome Cava cocktail and custom made party bag with masks, whistles and the traditional grapes for the midnight countdown. Email email@example.com for more info and to reserve.
For a full-on introduction to 2019 reserve a spot at Barcelona’s favourite Irish pub for a three course dinner and late night party. On the set menu the likes of whiskey-cured salmon, Angus Beef tenderloin and Belgian double chocolate orange cheesecake (the menu also has a vegetarian main option in spinach and ricotta puffs), whilst the your ticket also includes a bottle of wine between two, and Cava and grapes at midnight. Towards the end of the evening punters will be swilling Guinness and beers and singing along to Auld Lang Syne! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org for more info or to reserve.
One of the city’s slickest cocktail bars, Slow is a great bet for anyone looking for somewhere upmarket yet unpretentious to spend nochevieja (aka New Year’s Eve!), and they will be throwing on an eclectic electronic selection. The doors open at 12:30am, and with two long drinks included in the price of tickets.
Barcelona’s Ice Bar certainly knows how to party and this NYE will be no exception. International DJs will help usher in 2018 in style. Get in contact for advance tickets which will also include the Icebar experience – ie. sipping vodka from a subzero chamber. Email email@example.com for more.
For a more intimate celebration than most of the above options, head over to the cosmopolitan cocktail bar Milk where your ticket gets you a welcome cocktail, traditional grapes for the midnight countdown and some fun extras for party games… like whistles and masks. No doubt there’ll be a sprig of mistletoe hung up in a strategic place somewhere in the bar! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
With no entrance fee, and great drinks offers for the duration, if you spent all your money on Christmas shopping, then Shenanigans promises a Bacchic night out that won’t break the bank. The party starts at 9pm and they’ll be handing out party packs and grapes.
Barcelona’s only American-style beer hall will be throwing open its doors for a fun and informal festive meal and party. Tickets include food, plus a pint of craft beer, glass of Cava and the customary midnight grapes. Email email@example.com for more info or to reserve.
Firebug will be celebrating the arrival of 2019 with a fun and friendly party for their cosmopolitan fans. Expect great food, well mixed drinks and an international clientele, with guest DJs spinning the tunes. Tickets include a welcome Cava cocktail and custom made party pack with unique masks, whistles and midnight grapes for the Spanish countdown. Contact them on firstname.lastname@example.org to make reservations.
For an easy-going night of high revelry then saunter on over to the Wild Rover, where the entrance is free and the drinks are normal prices all night. They’ll be live music from 11pm right up til 3am and you can expect a plenty of voices raised in celebration as the clock chimes twelve. No reservation required.
Big dirty and industrial, if getting messy with the city’s hipsters and students if how you want to spend your night then rock up to – and rock out in – Razzmatazz. This former factory is the biggest club in the city, five rooms of pandemonium. The crowd is younger (over 25 year olds will feel old here) and more hedonistic, the beats a mix of rock, pop and electronic.
If you’re planning on organising your own private event for NYE then check out this list of venues for hire.
New Year’s Day
How to survive the following day…
No need to spend the first day of 2019 sobbing in bed with a glass of Alka Seltzer, as Milk, Marmalade and Firebug will all be open for their famous recovery brunches! So nip down for some bacon, pancakes and smoothies to blast the cobwebs of the night before away. Always a good atmosphere and who knows maybe you’ll feel well enough after to keep going… in which case keep reading…
New Year’s Day Parties
In the Catalan capital there’s a bit of a tradition to carry on the party into the next day. If carpe diem is your motto then book yourself a table at the elite Eclipse cocktail bar on the top floor of the sensational W-Hotel – the Dubai-esque glass sail-shaped building on the top of Barceloneta Beach.
Drink responsibly, dance wildly and love freely! The Barcelona Life team wish you all an amazing night!