In Spanish, New Year's Eve translates as "la nochevieja" meaning the old night and is a family celebration. It's normal to take stock of the year, and reflect on the past events and look forward to the coming year, although making "new year's resolutions" as such are not common as in other countries and cultures. On the night of the 31st, families gather for an evening meal and to see in the New Year together. Meals are often a lengthy affair, and involve traditional dishes depending on the region of Spain. Casseroles, roast suckling piglet (only milk-fed), and meat and vegetable broths are high on the menu, but in Catalonia and Barcelona in particular, it tends to be seafood which features more on the new year table - maybe as the Mediterranean is so close.
Christmas "turrones" and local cava are always in plentiful supply as well as sweet breads with pine nuts, candies fruits and pumpkin can also be seen. At midnight, the family usually gather around the TV to watch the New Year come in, and it is customary to eat 12 grapes in time with the 12 gongs of the bells - a good luck superstition. Celebrations continue well into the night, and the younger members of the family take the clock chimes as cue to be able to go and meet up with friends where they usually party until well into the AM.
Sounds great, right? So what if you're visiting Barcelona as a tourist over the New Year period? What are the best plans? Well, you have a couple of different options. It's important to point out that the city itself doesn't have any official celebrations for New Year - there are no firework displays (although you will see fireworks throughout the night), no stages or podiums with entertainment - but that shouldn't put you off paying a visit to Barcelona to welcome in your new year.
Many tourists opt to go for a restaurant booking, which is a safe bet for a great night. Restaurants in Barcelona offer a set menu, usually ranging from around 70 - 100 Euros per head, and it's absolutely necessary to make a booking beforehand. The majority of restaurants with websites publish their New Year's Menu online so you can choose the one which you like the best. Often Menus come out fairly late though, as chefs prefer to wait until the last minute to decide on those special ingredients that are really in season, or especially fresh or juicy, for example.
Those people more used to seeing the New Year in with a drink in their hand and dinner firmly put to bed, would be wiser to roam the streets of Barcelona. Although drinking in the street is illegal in Barcelona, the police turn a blind eye on New Year's Eve and indeed, thousands of plastic glasses are handed out at the city's main square, Plaça Catalunya where the majority of people gather. Another unofficial place to congregate in the city centre is directly in front of the city's Cathedral in the Gothic Quarter, although this is perhaps reserved for the older crowd who often perform the traditional "sardana" dance, too - space permitting!
Bars and pubs often close around the stroke of midnight, to clean and re-stock for the night ahead, and re-open at around 1am. Parties go on well into the night, and most clubs or discothèques close at 6am - and if you're still in the mood for a party, then there are "after hour" clubs which open at 6am until around noon, too! All in all, New Year's Eve in Barcelona is still a great party town!