When the clock strikes 12…

All around the world New Year’s Eve is celebrated in many different ways; it’s a time for getting together with family and friends, eating, drinking and having fun until the morning comes.

So… if you’re stuck for something to do this New Year look no further as NH have decided to help out and let you in on what ticks in London, Paris, Rome, Berlin and Madrid …when the clock strikes 12!

Madrid, Spain

New Year in Spain, known as “Nochevieja” is celebrated traditionally by eating 12 grapes. On the last day of the year people usually gather ready and waiting at 11:59 to hear the clock chime from the Puerta Del Sol in Madrid.

Every second that the clock strikes people consume one grape and by the time that they have finished it is New Year and they have twelve grapes stuffed in their mouth.

If you decide to go to Spain for New Year, and find something gold floating in your glass, don´t worry as it´s just a Spanish tradition! At New Year the Spanish usually drink the sparkling Spanish Wine “Cava” with a piece of gold jewellery in it for luck.

Like at Christmas the Spanish usually get together on New Year’s Eve for a “Cena Familia” ( Family Meal) which usually consists of yummy food such as ham, cheese and chorizo for starters, roast duck, chicken, turkey, prawns, soup, white asparagus, salad in tomato vinaigrette for the main meal and Turrón, Polvorones, and Mantecados for dessert (special Spanish treats). Here are some pictures to get those taste buds tingling:

London, England

Nowadays in England at 11:59 you’ll probably find yourself counting down the clock, squashed up against hundreds of people receiving a big drunken kiss off the person standing next to you singing a somewhat slurred version of Auld Lang Syne, but don´t worry as we still celebrate the New Year in style.

More traditionally, on the stroke of midnight, people open the back door (to let the old year out) and open the front door (to let the new year in), and then ask the first dark haired man to be seen to walk through the front door carrying salt, coal and bread. By doing this it means that the following year everyone in the house will have enough to eat (bread), enough money (salt) and warmth (coal).

The New Year Parade, a free family spectacle which takes place every New Years Day in the heart of London. Commencing at 12 noon in Piccadilly and finishing around 3pm at Parliament Street, the 2010 Parade will be filled with marching bands, cheerleaders, clowns acrobats, balloons and much more!

In Trafalgar Square, and Piccadilly Circus crowds of people gather to stand around with arms linked ready to sing Auld Lang Syne, and listen to the chimes of London’s Big Ben announcing the arrival of the New Year. Auld Lang Syne is an extremely old Scottish song that was first written down in the 1700s and Tran scripted by Robert Burns, a good translation for the title is “times gone by”.

Paris, France

New Year in France, Le jour de l´An or the St. Sylvestre starts January 1st and ends February 1st.

At the stroke of midnight French people start exchanging bises (small kisses on each cheek) and wishing each other Happy New Year “Bonne Annee!”

Also at New Year in Paris the French usually have a grand feast called the Réveillon de Saint-Sylvestre which consist of food such as papillottes, which are food wrapped in parchment paper or aluminium and baked in the oven, foie gras, champagne and a very festive traditional cake called the La Galette des Rois which looks something like this:

La Galette des rois

If you want to be in the heat of things in Paris then you definitely need to head down to where it is all happening at the Champs-Elysees. Starting at around 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, people start to assemble on the famous street, bringing along bottles and test tubes full of drink! From many places on the Champs-Elysees, you can get a good view of the Eiffel Tower, which explodes into a sparkling dance of light at the stroke of midnight.

Eiffel Tower at New Year

Rome, Italy

In Italy, New Year´s Eve (La Festa di San Silvestro) is celebrated on December 31st, and usually sees families joining together for a huge feast which is sure to include lentils, as in Italy at New Year they symbolise money and good fortune for the coming year.

Traditionally, the dinner in many parts of Italy usually consists of cotechino, (large spiced sausage), or a zampone, (stuffed pig’s trotter), as the pork symbolizes the richness of life in the coming year.

Lucky Lentils

Another tradition in Italy is to throw the things that you rarely use out of the window! It is seen as a sign of starting afresh, getting rid of the old and being ready to invite the New Year in. So take care and be alert if you decide to go to Italy for New Year as you might get hit on the head with an old piano or something.

In Rome on New Years Eve the celebrations usually take place in the Piazza del Popolo, and carry on right into the night. Huge crowds gather to celebrate the coming of the New Year by listening to music, dancing and watching fireworks, whilst being entertained by performers and acrobats. Next to the Santa Maria del Popolo church you will also be able to see an exhibit of traditional nativity scenes from all over the world which runs up to the end of January.

Also be sure to wear something red as Italians believe it will bring you good luck in the following year!

Berlin, Germany

In Berlin at New Year millions of people unite at the Straße des 17. Juni, (one of the most famous, historical streets in Germany), between Brandenburger Tor and Siegessäule for arguably one of the most outstanding New Years Events in the world.

If you want to be entertained, Berlin at New Year is the place to be, with stage shows, video screens, a media centre, party tents, food and refreshment stands, light and laser performances as well as spectacular midnight fireworks as the ultimate highlight of the event, what better way is there to end your year?

With live bands, performances from international music stars, DJ´s, plus more than 500 journalists, TV and radio stations present, the Berlin New Year event has something for everyone, is open to all ages and it´s absolutely free!



  • posted by Angela | 16 December 2009, 14:22,

    Great blog v interesting i never knew there was a Parade in London!

  • posted by lindsey | 16 December 2009, 19:26,

    Hay this is cool i want to go to Berlin now for New Year it looks amazing 🙂

  • posted by Davey | 16 December 2009, 21:32,

    Some interesting facts about each of the countries mentioned. I like the one about eating 12 grapes in Spain. I am going to try that on new years eve.

  • posted by Tel | 17 December 2009, 1:09,

    This blog is very informative. I didn’t know there were so many traditional ways the coming of a New Year is celebrated in Europe!!!

  • posted by collette | 17 December 2009, 12:13,

    good blog lots of information makes me want to go abroad for christmas. i like the images very colourful and insight full!

  • posted by Gianpaolo Ferraro | 17 December 2009, 13:06,


  • posted by brooke | 17 December 2009, 13:15,

    que genial!!!

  • posted by Tezza | 17 December 2009, 18:39,

    I would love to be in Paris for New Year. The Eiffel Tower looks beautiful all lit up in your picture, just imagine what it would look like in real life at New Year!!

  • posted by jeny | 17 December 2009, 21:17,

    v informative thanks NH ..Berlin at New Year looks great acutally..

  • posted by Karrise | 17 December 2009, 21:18,

    So you have hotels in each of these destinations are they cheap? i might check one of these out because i don’t know what i’m doing for new year.. maybe i’ll go to London Parade coz its not that far lol x

  • posted by Jake | 17 December 2009, 21:21,

    The La Galette des rois looks scumdidlyumptious! lol

  • posted by javier | 17 December 2009, 21:37,

    gracias por toda esta información, este blog sirve de gran ayuda ya que esta todo muy bien explicado!

  • posted by admin | 18 December 2009, 15:37,

    Thank you for all your Comments so far please keep them coming :)!

  • posted by lindsey | 21 December 2009, 13:24,

    great blog v interesting.. the London Parade looks good!

  • posted by VincentHerve | 21 December 2009, 13:39,

    ARR tres bien NH Hoteles merci pour tous ces informations. J´aime bcp l´idée des raisins a Madrid. Ça sera trop cool!!!

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    Happy New Year to all where ever you are people ! 2010 here we come!

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  • posted by Jeff | 20 April 2010, 1:59,

    Good article. I’ll keep some of these ideas in mind for the New Years Eve to come! I fancy going to Spain and eating all those grapes!

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  • posted by essayswriters.org | 27 April 2013, 14:14,

    Much needed information, at least for self-education. New Year in France is probably the most enjoyable, they even have a cake :))

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