It all began when a power line snapped on New Year's Eve in 1994 in the small Spanish village of Bérchules. Children wailed, adults groaned, and all headed home from the village square, cursing the frigid winter air and muttering resolutions that they would celebrate anyways, somehow, someway. Now, two decades later, the Bérchuleros can be found drinking cava at midnight, dancing and listening to music, and sporting some classy red underwear for good luck, all evidence of a typical Spanish New Year -- but in August?
Annoyed by the lack of cooperation from the electric company and their poor luck throughout the year (no doubt a result of not having properly welcomed in the New Year), the inhabitants of Bérchules decided they shouldn't be without a New Year's celebration, and decided the first Saturday in August would be the perfect time for such a celebration. Ever since deciding they were perfectly fine with popping bubbly in a different season, the tourists have been rolling in. Bérchules, an agrarian village located in the southern Spanish region of Las Alpujarras, was originally founded by Berber colonists in the 9th century. The town has no more than 800 permanent residents, but fills with thousands of travelers touring Spain and seeking to attend the annual bash.
Spanish New Year tradition calls for some interesting shenanigans; as midnight nears on New Year's Eve, nearly the entire country gathers in front of their television screen or in the local town square, clutching a bowl of twelve green grapes. After the bells ring out four times in quick succession, there is a slight pause then begins a series of twelve more chimes, one for each month of the year. At that first dong, Spaniards from Tenerife to Madrid pop a grape into their mouths, with little time to chew or swallow, because about three seconds later a second dong will chime and a second grape gets eaten. This continues through twelve dongs, party-goers that are able to finish the twelve grapes -- without a mouthful of half-chewed grapes -- will be blessed with a lucky year. Such festivities can also be found in Bérchules for their New Year's celebrations, but with some added local flair.
The party begins with Christmas festivities, including nativity scenes, gifts, and the Three Kings on donkeys, but concludes with Styrofoam snow and an all-night Spanish fiesta, with residents and tourists alike finally heading home around 7 AM for some much needed rest. A car rental in Bérchules allows travelers to witness not only the craziness of a New Year's Party in August, but also the rural monuments, restaurants, and estates found in the countryside around Bérchules.
Beyond Bérchules, big-name Spanish destinations, such as the cities of Seville and Granada are not far, but if you're looking to explore Spain's rural culture on a road trip, you couldn't find a better destination than Bérchules: famous for its horseback riding, cycling, and hiking, the region is an ambitious adventurer's dream. As with any vacation destination, travelers should be sure to gorge themselves on local Bérchulero cuisine, particularly locally-raised pork and game hunted in the nearby woods, which is plentiful during the summer festivities. With a rental vehicle in Spain, you're free to explore New Year's in August whilst simultaneously enjoying the seemingly never-ending pleasures of spending your summer vacation in Spain.