On New Year´s eve you will encounter traditions in Barcelona that are in common with many other places in the world but there are a variety of customs that are inherent to Catalonia and Spain.
Where to go?
In general, it is common to either spend your time with friends and family at home or to go to a fancy restaurant. At home you would cook or you share the workload and each of your guests will bring a dish. It is the moment to enjoy the time together with your beloved ones.
On the other hand it is also very common to eat out and have an extensive dinner (menu de año nuevo) in a nice restaurant. As the latter is very popular in Barcelona you will require a reservation often many days in advance. It is very difficult to find anything on the evening itself.
What to do?
It does not matter where you are: at home, in a restaurant or spending your time on a square in the city, at midnight it is the custom to eat twelve grapes – one per bell strike. Each of the grapes is representing one month of the year. The superstitious believe is that this will lead to a prosperous year ahead. You will encounter hilarious scenes where grandparents compete against children and grandchildren to be the first to accomplish the task.
Another tradition is to throw a golden object into a glass of Cava – the Catalan sparkling wine that is similar to Champagne from France. To bring good fortune you will need to drink the entire glass during the midnight toast and retrieve your object.
If you are looking for fireworks you will not find them on the streets in front of the houses like it is the custom in Germany or in the Netherlands. On the contrary, there is one massive public firework by the magic fountain at the Montjuic hill (metro stop: Plaça España). But go early, as it is very popular among locals and tourists alike and tends to be very busy. The professional show lasts around 45 minutes.
Did you know?
Actually, the tradition of the twelve grapes dates back to the late 19th century when winemakers had a rich harvest of very good grapes. To increase their revenue and make use of the surplus they invented this tradition that has become the most popular superstition in Spain.