How The Spanish Celebrate New Year’s Eve: Grapes, Cava and Countdowns in Cádiz

How The Spanish Celebrate New Year’s Eve: Grapes, Cava and Countdowns in Cádiz

If you’re wondering where to go for New Year’s Eve 2017-18, a holiday in Southern Spain is the perfect plan. With sunny skies shining down upon the historical city of Cádiz, you’ll have so many choices on how to spend your vacation: strolling along sandy shores, chowing down on some of the most delectable drinks and food or simply soaking in all the southern Spanish culture.

View of Cádiz City

For the ultimate New Year’s hosted holiday, consider the New Year’s Eve Corazon Tour to Cádiz, which offers the opportunity to experience some of the unique traditions the Andalusian locals take part in to celebrate New Year’s Eve. The holiday includes adventures beyond the city of Cádiz, like visiting the white Andalusian villages and the cities of Seville and Jerez de la Frontera. You’ll sample wine, visit some of the most prestigious sherry bodegas in the region, have lunch with a masterchef at his house, enjoy authentic flamenco with the locals, see the dancing Andalusian horses and enjoy New Year Spanish-style in one of the prettiest hill-top villages in Spain. After savoring long, leisurely Spanish lunches, there’ll be time for a walk on the beach too.

Here’s the Corazon list of New Year’s Eve traditions you just can’t miss out on:

A Grandiose Dinner

The locals typically spend the start of their New Year’s Eve having a large dinner with family or friends — those transparent tapitas of the Iberian acorn-fed ham, cured manchego and prawns on ice. But those are just appetizers! Then, onto the main course of roast lamb, the local retinto beef or fresh fish to follow. Dinner starts late, usually around 9, 10 or even 11 pm, so the party can go on late too!


Cava, the Spanish answer to champagne is brought out at every celebration so of course, New Year’s Eve is the perfect time to sip some. From the Penedés region of Spain, this refreshing sparkling wine is made with a combination of local grapes; macabeo, parellada and xarel lo are the most typical. In Cádiz, the cava drinking might start as a pre-dinner aperitif, and expect toasts during dinner, after dinner and following the midnight countdown. Once you’ve had your fill of cava, copas come next.

Spanish cava on New Year's Eve
Cava photo by cyclone bill/Flickr


A copa can mean a drink in general but in a later night context, it tends to refer to a long drink with a spirit and mixer. Typically, a copa has a healthy serving of alcohol with some wonderful giant Spanish ice cubes and your mixer of choice. By now it’s definitely time to start dancing!

Countdown with grapes for a lucky 2018

In Cádiz as in the rest of Spain, the midnight countdown is typically done to twelve chiming bells, and for each ding, plan to stuff a grape into your mouth. The first time around might mean that laughing gets in the way, but you should try to finish all 12 because it means you’ll have good luck for the rest of year. A hot tip is to make sure your grapes are seedless and small so they go down easier and faster. Some cities even hold a rehearsal before the big night just to make sure you are warmed up!

Eating grapes to celebrate New Year's Eve in Spain
Grapes on New Year’s Eve in Spain – photo from Jacinta Lluch Valero/Flickr

The Cotillon Goody bags

If you eat out at a restaurant or with a local family for New Year’s Eve, you may end up getting a Bolsa de Cotillon — a goody bag filled with silly party favors like masks, decorations and toys. Adults in Cádiz seem to love these bags just as much as kids, so get in on the holiday spirit and enjoy trying on and playing with all your party favors.

Sway to live music in the streets

The streets of Cádiz and its surrounding villages are filled with music on New Year’s Eve. The Zambomba Flamenca, a tradition beloved by tourists and locals alike, is a selection of classic holiday carols performed with a flamenco twist. Expect to see Andalusian musicians stamping, clapping, drumming the Zambomba drum and belting out this unique style of music outdoors on New Year’s Eve and throughout the entire holiday season.

You’ll have the opportunity to experience some of these traditions and more if you partake in the New Year’s Eve Cádiz Corazon Tour. The special New Year’s Eve dinner will be held at the charming Hotel Casa de la Califa in Vejer de la Frontera which has been voted one of Spain’s prettiest villages.

Vejer de la Frontera, Spain

Instead of sampling Spanish cuisine, you’ll embark on a Moroccan food journey that will make your New Year’s Eve an unforgettable one. Don’t worry, though, you’ll still be armed with plenty of grapes, cava and copas to celebrate with!