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The multitudinous fiesta of  the campanas ushers in the New Year in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol!


by Rose Maramba

If you’re planning on joining the New Year fiestas (the “pre-uvas” on the 30th of December, and the “campanadas” on 31stDecember-1st January) in Puerta del Sol, the epicenter of Spain’s New Year celebrations, you’d better double-check on the ways and means of getting there before setting out.

The stellar role of the grapes in the New Year fiestas.

The pre-uvas, meaning literally “before the grapes”, is a fiesta that wants to steal a march on the real thing, that is, the twelve uvas eaten in time with the twelve campanadas of Spain’s most famous clock, atop the 18th century Royal House of the Post Office, on the 31st of December to usher in the New Year. (For the role of the grapes in the Spanish celebration of the New Year, click here.)

Both the pre-uvas and the campanadas are held at midnight. The defining difference between them is that the pre-uvas takes place 24 hours before the arrival of the New Year. You could thus say that it’s a celebration of a counterfeit New Year’s Eve. Which doesn’t make it any less fun!

Both fiestas are multitudinous, packing the capital’s most central plaza to the rafters, so to speak. The thousands of ebullient celebrators from all over Spain, and abroad, could prove irresistible to terrorists who are forever on the lookout for opportunities in which to inflict the worst harm on the largest number of people. And after the terrorist attack in the Ramblas in Barcelona two years ago (see “TERRORIST SAVAGERY BRINGS OUT THE BEST IN PEOPLE”), local and national security forces aren’t leaving anything to chance. Neglect could well result in a dreadful catastrophe.

Metro Sol is closed for the duration.

The most immediate measure is to keep the celebrators safe during the New Year fiestas by keeping the access to transport systems as far away as possible from Puerta del Sol. This will not only prevent a terrorist car from crashing the fiestas; it will also limit the number of people to a manageable agglomeration, thereby averting a potentially fatal stampede should panic ensue.

Starting at 9:00 PM on Monday, and on Tuesday, Metro Sol will be closed. It won’t reopen until past midnight of the two dates.

On the days of the pre-uvas and the campanadas, areas around Puerta del Sol will be off limits to buses from 8:00 PM to 3:00 AM. Moreover, several BiciMad bike stations around Sol will be closed off: BiciMad 9 (Plaza de San Miguel); 28 (Calle Sevilla); 34 (Plaza Benavente); 1 (Sol); 25 (Celenque), and 31 (Mayor).

To insure that you’re safe having fun, you can only toast the New Year in plastic goblets!

The only way to access Puerta del Sol is on foot via the four “filters” that serve as entryways to the famed plaza: the Carrera de San Jeronimo-Calle Victoria; calle Alcala-callejon Caja de Ahorros; calle Mayor-travesia Arenal; calle Arenal-travesia Arenal.

If need be, the police will frisk those who are suspected of concealing weapons. Firecrackers are prohibited. And the wines to toast the New Year can’t be brought in in glass bottles; they’ll have to be in plastic containers.



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Featured image/Jacinta Lluch Valero, CC BY-SA2.0
Grapes/Brando via Flickr, CC BY2.0, cropped
Metro Sol/Roger Schultz, CC BY2.0, cropped
Plastic goblets/Moonjazz, PD, cropped