5 Unusual Festivals for New Year’s Eve

5 Unusual Festivals for New Year's Eve

‘Are you tired of stressing out trying to find something awesome to do on NYE? Why not do something a little out of the ordinary? Here are 5 unusual festivals for New Year’s Eve…

Madrid, Spain

Why not hop a flight to the Spanish capital, hitch a ride to Puerta del Sol and spend Nochevieja (NYE) in the company of Cava drinking, grape eating Spaniards?
All you need is twelve grapes, to be consumed one by one by the chimes of the clock counting down to midnight (and the ability to fiesta all night), and you’ll fit right in.

The tradition comes from the belief that eating grapes on New Year’s Eve will bring you a year of health and happiness. Also: this will totally start you off on the right foot on January 1st by covering one of your 5 a day, no?  Eating healthy in 2019: check!

The street party is not just limited to Madrid, however, there’s also a massive party held in the Plaza de Catalunya Square in Barca, where even more Spaniards join together for the Twelve Grapes and to celebrate the coming of the New Year.

12 Grapes, Spanish New Year
I prefer them when they’re squashed into liquid, but I could manage 12.

Allendale Tar Barrel Festival, Northumberland

The village of Allendale is generally a quiet and peaceful place, but come New Year’s Eve and all hell breaks loose.   No, really.  The men of the town have been keeping up the tradition of “Tar Barl’ for the past 160 years. What’s Tar Barl?, I hear you cry.  Well, the town’s men wander down the high street at midnight, in fancy dress, with barrels on their heads.   And not just boring old barrels, either.  These barrels are on fire.  Obviously.
It’s certainly a novel way to keep warm on a Winter’s night.   If you head to Allendale, please remember not to get too close.  We don’t want any roasted chestnuts…
Fire Festival, Allendale
I am the God of Hellfire and I bring you…FIYAH!

Quito, Ecuador

On the 31st December each year, the good people of Ecuador get together to set stuff on fire because why not?

The residents head out into the streets, armed with dummies. The dummies represent famous faces, politicians, mother in laws, etc, and are doused them in whatever kind of accelerant and lit on fire.  I’m unsure, even after extensive research, whether the accelerant is petrol or tequila.

It’s a widely held belief that the symbolic gestures will bring you good luck for the year ahead.  Let’s face it, these days anything’s worth a shot.  I know I’m not short of a person or two I’d like to set fire to (not literally, obviously) at the stroke of midnight.

Ecuador Festival, New Year
Burn ’em…burn ’em all..

Comanesti, Romania

The Dance of the Bear is one of the traditional festivities that take place across the former Soviet State on New Year’s Eve. Romanian Gypsies dress up in bearskins and wander around the streets in the festival of Ursul.  The skins are generally fake these days because of all the bears who protested about being skinned at worn for New Year.

Bears are thought of as a sacred protector in Romania and the wearing of their skins wards off evil spirits for the year ahead. A procession of ‘bears’ takes to the streets and celebrate the passing of the old year into the new.

I don’t think people walk that far, though.  I mean, who needs to be carrying all that extra weight?  Still, I imagine it’s quite the terrifying spectacle if you just happen to stumble into town after a drink or two and had no idea it was all going on.


Dance of the Bear, Romania
I’m sorry, you want to do what now?  Yeah, no, totally not going to happen.

Stonehaven, Scotland

Man, there’s a lot of fire starting around the world on NYE, huh? And I’m proud to report that my home nation is not one to be left out. No, Ma’am.  We don’t set fire to puppets or barrels of tar, though.  Nope, we need proper danger.

What us Scots like to do is swing large fireballs around our heads.  This is mainly because it’s the only time of the year you do this without someone calling the Police.  OK, so maybe they do it on a Friday night in Greenock, but certainly not anywhere else.

The aptly named ‘Fireball Ceremony’ will leave visitors in doubt about the premise of the night.  If you go, may I suggest you check out your nearest assembly points and dig out your high vis jacket well in advance? THIS IS NOT A DRILL, PEOPLE.

The actual fireball flinging thingy starts at midnight,  but it’s best to get there before 11pm.  You don’t want to miss out on getting *really* close to the action, do you?

I jest, of course, it’s a very well organised and very safe event. Also: Stonehaven is a beautiful little coastal village so, if you catch fire, you’re really close to the sea.  Result!

Fire, New Year
The remains of Stonehaven from last year’s Festival.
Whatever you choose to do on New Year’s Eve; have a good one.  Happy New Year to you!

Suz x

5 Unusual Festivals for New Year's Eve

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About sightseeingshoes 254 Articles
Hi, I'm Suz. I love travelling (obvs..), dogs, shoes and wine, although not necessarily in that order. I'm originally from Scotland, but now live in Snowdonia in North Wales with my husband and a seriously large shoe collection.

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