MADRID (AFP) – Thousands of horn-tooting, hat-wearing revellers jammed Madrid’s central Puerta del Sol square on Tuesday, braving freezing temperatures to ring in 2015 – a day early.
The crowd roared and jumped up and down as the clock in the 18th century Real Casa de Correos – the seat of the regional government of Madrid – struck midnight, even though the New Year only starts 24 hours later.
Many followed a Spanish New Year’s custom and gobbled a grape on each of the 12 chimes at midnight for 12 months of good luck while others counted the clangs of the clock out loud.
Some used French fries or chocolate-covered peanuts instead of grapes.
City officials test the chimes the day before New Year’s Eve to make sure they are working properly and each year a growing sea of people come for the trial run to start celebrating early.
Many said they came to avoid the much larger crowd that turns out on New Year’s Eve for the countdown in the square, watched live by millions of people across Spain on television.