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New Year’s Eve in Catalonia: what to do

After welcoming the New Year with a grape on each stroke of midnight, the options go from fireworks and dancing to skiing by torchlight

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28 December 2019 02:45 PM

by

Neil Stokes | Barcelona

Wherever you might be celebrating New Year's Eve in Catalonia, make sure you have grapes close to hand. It is traditional to welcome in the New Year by swallowing a grape each time the clock strikes at midnight on December 31.

As long as you have the grape situation under control, the rest of the evening is up to you. Fortunately, there is no shortage of options all over Catalonia when it comes to enjoying yourself on the final day of the year.

Catalonia's biggest party

As with any capital around the world, Barcelona has its go-to place when it comes to public New Year's Eve celebrations: the Reina Maria Cristina avenue in front of the Montjuïc Magic Fountain, which will be the site of a spectacular fireworks display to welcome in 2020.

The display will be organized by Group F, which did the fireworks for the Olympic Games in Rio. Starting at 11.48pm, the display under the artistic direction of Christophe Berthonneau will include music especially composed for the occasion by Scott Gibbons.

Running towards 2020

Before that, however, those with energy to spare can take part in one of the Sant Silvestre races that are held throughout Catalonia, with perhaps the most famous being Barcelona’s Cursa dels Nassos (Race of the Noses). 

Legend has it that ‘L’Home dels Nassos’ (Catalan for the man with many noses) has as many noses as there are days left in the year. Wisely, he only goes out once a year, on December 31, and runners often accompany him got up in fancy dress.

Snow and cava in the Pyrenees

Yet, for those who want to get out of the city, most of Catalonia's ski resorts in the Pyrenees also put on New Year's Eve events. One of the most popular activities are the torchlit parades, in which participants ski down the mountain carrying torches.

However, don't wait to book if you're interested because the hostelry federation for the northern Girona counties reports that occupancy rates in hotels for New Year's Eve are already at 97% in Ripollès and Cerdanya, and at 80% in the inland counties.

Put on your dancing shoes

If there's one night of the year when you can let your hair down and put on your dancing shoes it has to be New Year's Eve, and there is no shortage of venues with end-of-year parties to make it a night to remember, especially in Barcelona.

Most of the Catalan capital's music halls have events, such as Nitsa Allstars at the Sala Apolo in Poble Sec, DJs Marshall Night and Alberto Herrera at Pacha Barcelona down by the sea, while Razzmatazz has DJs Amable, Legotheque and Baldo.

The first sunrise of the year

For the traditionalists out there who managed to get to bed early (or who never went to bed), there are the annual gatherings known as ‘Aplec del Sol Ixent', which sees groups devoted to Catalonia's time-honored dance, the 'sardana', welcome the first sunrise of the year. 

Starting at 7am when it is still dark, the groups dance the New Year in, with the best-known taking place in Costa Brava on the Cap de Creus headland, which is followed up with an early-morning dip in the sea on the nearby Llaner Gran beach in Cadaqués.

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  • Barcelona's official New Year's Eve show in 2019 (by Ajuntament de Barcelona)

  • Barcelona's official New Year's Eve show in 2019 (by Ajuntament de Barcelona)