The countdown to 2023 has begun in Madrid.
Thousands of revellers are already in the Puerta del Sol for the traditional welcoming of the New Year.
Yesterday, 30th December, the Madrid City Council set up a security cordon around the square, for the ‘pre-uvas’ rehearsal.
For the real deal happening this evening, some 250 Municipal Police and 600 National Police will be on duty to ensure public safety.
The cordon around the Puerta del Sol will ensure that a maximum of 7,500 people can be in the vicinity to hear the chiming of the bells from the clock tower of the Palacio de Correos.
No vehicles will be permitted in the area around the Puerta del Sol.
In addition both Metro and Renfe stations will be closed from 18.00.
Those who brave the cold night will be at the epicentre of Spanish New Year celebrations as TV crews will be broadcasting the proceedings into homes across the nation as families gather to be together for the last dinner of the year and of course the 12 grapes.
There are several theories that explain the origin of this grape-eating tradition, but the most popular one dates back to 1909, a year in which wine producers from Levante had so much surplus grapes that they decided to give them away to citizens.
It quickly spread and is now firmly part of Spanish traditions.
To be ready the TV should be switched on a few minutes before midnight to take you live to the Puerta del Sol and the clock tower of the Palacio de Correos.
A lead ball, located in the upper part of the tower, is lowered to the sound of the carillon. This is followed by the four quarters (4 warning tolls that give you time to grab that grape that’s rolled under the table) and then, finally, the 12 chimes for your 12 grapes.
And once you’ve managed to swallow them all, had a glass – or two – of Spanish cava, kissed and hugged everyone within reach, then it’s time to get ready to party until the break of dawn!
Happy New Year!