Spending New Year’s Eve in San Sebastian

Out with the old, in with the new—and there’s no better place to celebrate than San Sebastian! With its glamorous beaches and winding streets filled with bars and restaurants serving the best food in Europe, it’s no wonder why San Sebastian is many travelers’ dream destination. The unique Basque culture combined with the Spanish flair we all know and love makes it an especially unique place to ring in the new year.

Grab your 12 grapes (we’ll get to that) and hit the streets—it’s time to celebrate a once-in-a-lifetime New Year’s Eve in San Sebastian.


The 12 New Year’s grapes

No matter where you find yourself on nochevieja (New Year’s Eve) in Spain, there’s one tradition that remains the same across the board. That would be the traditional eating of 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight. (We say “eating,” but normally it ends up being more along the lines of “frantically shoving grapes into your mouth as you attempt to eat one for each stroke of the clock.” It’s harder than it sounds!)

On New Year’s Eve in San Sebastian, many families either enjoy the traditional uvas at home, or head out to one of the city’s lively plazas to take part in this celebration with hundreds of other locals and visitors. One popular spot is Plaza Gipuzkoa, which, without fail, always packs to the brim with revelers ringing in the new year.

Eating the 12 midnight grapes is an essential part of celebrating New Year's Eve in San Sebastian!
Can you eat all 12 grapes in time? Photo credit: Jacinta Lluch Valero

On your marks…get set…go!

The grapes are a fun and essential part of celebrating New Year’s Eve in San Sebastian, but let’s backtrack a bit. Every year during the day on December 31, thousands of athletes lace up their running shoes and take part in the annual San Silvestre race.

The 8.2-kilometer route includes running through the charming city streets as well as sweeping views of the beach. Whether you’re feeling active and want to participate yourself, or you prefer cheering the runners on from the sidelines, it’s a fun and festive tradition on New Year’s Eve in San Sebastian.

The San Silvestre Race is a favorite tradition on New Year's Eve in San Sebastian. Part of the route goes along the beach, so you can enjoy views like these!
What better way to spend the last afternoon of 2019 than by running in a fun race with these views?

Fancy festivities

Think hotels are just for tourists? Think again.

Each year, more and more San Sebastian locals opt for one of the dozens of cotillones, or galas, taking place at the city’s finest hotels. If you’d like to go all out on New Year’s Eve in San Sebastian, you’ll find exclusive events all over the city.

Top hotels like the Hotel María Cristina, Barceló Costa Vasca, Hotel de Londres and more feature gala dinners with generous drink allowances, all-night dancing and world-class entertainment in some of the classiest venues in town. Be sure to book your spot in advance, as spaces at these events are highly coveted.

Cava is one of the most important elements of New Year's Eve in San Sebastian!
Keep the cava flowing all night long!

Follow the party!

Can’t decide where and how to celebrate? Luckily, New Year’s Eve in San Sebastian is the definition of a moveable feast. Wander through the gorgeous streets of the Old Town and you’ll find that bar after bar is packed with locals enjoying the fun and festivities. Pop into whichever looks most inviting, enjoy a few drinks, then continue on to the next! It’s the best way to sample a little bit of everything on New Year’s Eve in San Sebastian.

Update notice: This blog post was updated on November 28, 2019.

2 Comment

  1. Matthew Dougherty says
    December 17, 2019 at 2:43 am

    Hi! Will the usual pintxos bars be open on NYE? I’ve read that many will shut quite early on in the evening.

    1. Devour Tours says
      December 23, 2019 at 11:00 am

      Hi Matthew! That is likely the case since December 31 is a traditional evening for family dinners at home. In this post we have a few recommendations for dining in San Sebastian on New Year’s Eve!

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