Puerta Del Sol Readies For New Year´s Eve

Final preparations are being made for tomorow´s New Year s Eve celebrations as Madrid´s Puerta del Sol takes centre stage for Spain to welcome in 2024.

Madrid´s City Council have announced that some 15,000 revellers will be allowed into the square for both this evening´s “pre-uvas” practice and tomorow´s big night.

As every year, all Spanish eyes will be on the clock tower of the Real Casa de Correos which heralds in the New Year at midnight.

It was Queen Isabella II who inaugurated the clock tower in 1866, and the clock was the official marker of time in Spain for many years.

On 31st December, it briefly returns to its official role with all of Spain´s major television networks broadcasting live as the clock chimes in the New Year and the moment to kick off the Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes.

Just a few seconds before midnight, the 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.

It may sound easy but for this writer a challenge rarely achieved!

And once you’ve managed to swallow them all, had a glass–or two–of champagne, kissed and hugged everyone within reach, then it’s time to get ready to party till the early hours!

There are several theories that explain the origin of this grape-eating tradition, but the most popular one dates back to at least 1895, a year it is said, in which wine producers from the Levante region had so much surplus grapes from the harvest that they decided to give them away.

They claimed that eating this fruiting berry on New Year’s Eve would bring them good luck, and as such are known as the “doce uvas de suerte” ( 12 grapes of good luck). According to the long defunct newspaper, La Crónica de España, the first grapes were eaten under the clock tower in 1909 and very quicky established itself as a Spanish custom, one that has kept growing ever since.

The first film of what is today a mass televised event took place in 1929 when Los misterios de la Puerta del Sol, was screened, showing the New Years´s Eve crowd thronging with party hats, bottles of wine and of course their bags of grapes.

So if you are going to celebrate in the Puerta del Sol you are continuing a long tradition that brings in every new generation.

As in previous years be aware that the space is confined and many thousands expected so keep your valuables safe.

Some 800 police will be on hand along with emergency service personnel with access restricted through Alcalá, Carrera de San Jerónimo, Mayor and Arenal only.

The Puerta del Del Metro and overland Cercanias station is closed until the morning.

Happy New Year! / ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!




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