One of the most magical times of the year anywhere in the world is New Year’s Eve and Malaga is no exception.
Welcoming in another year is one of the biggest and brightest celebrations in the city and not to be missed if you’re lucky enough to be spending New Year’s Eve in Malaga.
To ensure you have the best possible evening, we’ve put together some top tips and local recommendations on saying hello to 2020 in true Malaga style.
Eating on New Year’s Eve in Malaga
Your first step will be to find a venue to treat yourself to the last supper of the year.
Check if your favourite restaurant opens on 31st December (not all do) and then ask what’s on the menu.
Many restaurants in Malaga have set menus for New Year’s Eve, usually several courses with wine costing at least €50 per person. Some have two sittings – an early one (e.g. 7.30pm) and a later one (e.g. 9.30pm).
Top tip: Book your restaurant table well in advance. It’s almost impossible to eat anywhere without a reservation on 31st December!
Partying on New Year’s Eve in Malaga
Private parties: Some of the larger restaurants and many hotels in Malaga offer a New Year’s Eve package of dinner, celebratory drinks and after-midnight party.
Expect a full meal with wine; cava and grapes (see below) at midnight; a party pack (known as cotillon); drinks and dancing with a live DJ or band; and chocolate and churros at the end of the night.
Typical prices start at €130 per person.
Top tip: When you come to pick up your rental bike, ask our staff for recommendations on the hottest spots to spend New Year’s Eve in Malaga. Or check out our blog for suggestions.
Parties for everyone: Free celebrations also take place in Malaga on New Year’s Eve on the central Plaza de la Constitución with a (handy) large clock. There’s music from 10 pm onwards and a live band performs after midnight for a couple of hours.
Participants get a free party pack that includes a hat, streamers and mask plus the essential lucky grapes. Just before midnight, the official countdown begins and once the New Year has arrived, it’s live music and dancing.
This is a family-friendly occasion and you’ll see people of all ages celebrating the arrival of the New Year.
Top tip: Drink isn’t included in the free pack so bring your own. Keep it green for 2020 with reusable glasses and don’t forget to recycle your bottles afterwards.
New Year’s Eve traditions
Malaga has its share of unique traditions for welcoming in the New Year. They include:
- 12 lucky grapes – the most widespread Spanish tradition involves eating 12 grapes at midnight, one for each chime of the clock. Each grape symbolises one month of good luck and health so if you manage to eat all of them by the time the clock reaches the twelfth chime, you’re in for a fabulous year!
You’ll find it a challenge, so make it easier for yourself by selecting small grapes, ideally seedless or buying a tin of ready-skinned and seeded grapes. And whatever you do, don’t laugh while you’re stuffing them in!
Top tip: Can’t stand grapes? Get lucky for the next 12 months and swap the grapes for olives, raisins or other dried fruit. Stock up on these when you visit the Central Market.
- Toast with cava or cider – the Spanish welcome the New Year with a toast of something sparkling. This might be cava, champagne or cider made in Asturias in Northern Spain, much paler and fizzier than you might be used to.
Top tip: For the best cava, make sure the label on the bottle says método champenoise. This guarantees natural sparkling wine rather than artificial. And the good news is, you don’t need to spend very much to get a bottle of quality cava.
- Red underwear – tradition says that you should wear new red underwear on New Year’s Eve to get the new year off to a lucky (and passionate) start. The central Calle Larios has plenty of shops selling underwear for men and women and several shopping centres are an easy bike ride away – ask us for a map when you collect your hire bike in Malaga.
New Year’s Day activities
Why not work off the excesses of Christmas and start the New Year as you mean to go on? Get up bright and early to enjoy some exercise and fresh air in Malaga.
And it’ll probably be sunny too!
Most businesses including ours are closed on January 1st, but don’t worry- we won’t leave you without a bike!
Terms of renting
Please bring one piece of a photo ID and please check with the place where you are staying to see if they have a safe place to store the bikes inside during the night. Bikes must not be left on the street overnight.
Please book ahead to avoid disappointment!
Go for a ride
Malaga has some excellent cycling routes that range from flat and easy to steep and challenging.
One of the best takes in the eastern stretch of the Malaga coast as far as the little resort of Chilches. Follow our self-guided bike tour here.
Our staff can also give you plenty of recommendations on where to ride to on your rental bike in Malaga.
Go for a swim
Some locals start the New Year with a dip in the Mediterranean first thing in the morning. The sea is chilly in January so you won’t be in for long, but at least you can dry off in the sun.
Top tip: Make it a New Year duathlon by cycling to one of the beaches for a swim!
Yet more festive activities
In many countries, New Year’s Day signals the end of the festive season, but in Malaga, there’s still one huge event to celebrate.
One of the most important days of this year on the city calendar is Epiphany, the Three Kings Day or Día de Los Reyes when the Spanish traditionally give and receive their presents.
The Three Kings, the Spanish equivalent of Santa or St Nicholas, travel by camel to deliver their gifts on the night of 5th January and children open them on 6th.
But before they start their visits to all the homes in Malaga, Balthasar, Melchior and Gaspar visit the city and join the Three Kings Parade, known as the Cabalgata de Reyes.
The Kings arrive in the city, usually by boat, in the early afternoon before they go to their accommodation in the Alcazaba. From here, they join the Parade, consisting of lots of colourful and decorative floats with festive or children’s themes.
Street artists, performers and bands accompany them as they make their way through the city centre. Thousands of families line the streets to welcome their Majesties and catch some of the 18,700 kilos of sweets thrown from the floats. Don’t forget to take a bag to collect yours! Watch the Parade on 5th January from 5pm onwards.
Top tip: The Parade is one of the busiest events in the city and very crowded. Keep an extra eye on your children and your belongings. And better to drop off your MALAGA BIKE bike before the parade. The parade route is impossible to navigate by bike.
Malaga is a great place to spend the festive season, whether you’re here for Christmas, New Year and/or the Three Kings.