New Year….New you?

Where will you spend it? What will you do?

If you’re still looking for some ideas on where and how to bring in the New Year of 2013, then look no further than the University of Salamanca.

A Spanish New Year with a difference, and you don’t have to be a paid up member of the Students Union to apply!

What? Not December 31st?!

12 grapes and Cava

Happy New Year from Spain

Well, there are a number of places to spend New Years Eve – but here in Salamanca you can actually celebrate the arrival of 2013 on the 13th December, 2 weeks early!

This is officially the seventh year for the celebration party to take place – although t here were a few unofficial ones before! – but you only have a week or so to go and get your skates on if you want to attend this one!



Why Spain, and why Salamanca?

Spain is a great destination to spend New Years Eve.  Noche Vieja – the Old Night – is as important a night as any other on the festive calender. The chime of the twelve bells as they strike midnight, the eating of twelve grapes to go with the twelve sips of Cava, one of each for each strike of the bell.

And Salamanca? Because it’s a beautiful place to see, it’s young, vibrant and they throw a great bash…albeit a little early!

The idea was born from a few students some years back, they wanted to party at the end of term together, given that they would be scattered far and wide for the actual bash on the 31st December with their various families…

Stunning Salamanca

Where is it?

Salamanca is situated in Castilla y Leon, which is the largest region of Spain. A regal region of Cathedrals and Castles, it boasts much in the way of Medieval history and sights to behold. Salamanca is important to the region, not least due to the University, one of the oldest seats of learning in Europe.

What happens?

If you’re spending the festive season in Madrid, then book in advance and buy a ticket for just 25€ – for all of you social net-workers, here is the official Facebook event page for more information on the event and buying tickets. That price will entitle you to travel there and back and a free drink, plus a small gift.

Otherwise, just turn up – around 10pm to the Plaza Mayor where DJ Javi Reina and the violinist Miguel Lara will entertain you right up until the clock strikes 12.  Then, instead of eating grapes, you can indulge in twelve marshmallows!  Try talking with all that in your mouth!  Afterwards, everyone descends on the local bars for a night of revelry and partying until dawn…

Where can we stay?

A cottage, a country house, a Bed and Breakfast, or a stylish city apartment with Wifi included- what would you like? Because here at Spain Holiday we just happen to have them all!

property number 5627 The City Apartment

What else will you find there?

You’ll find a city, but with the intimacy of a town, centred around a distinguished seat of learning, and plenty of sights to see.

You’ll also find a destination teeming with a population of students and seemingly everyone under the age of thirty – not just at the university, so the bars and night life scene has a busy, very much  alive vibe. A famous description of Salamanca is ‘It’s the youngest, oldest City in Spain!’.

Click here to read a post about a Christmas Legend set in the city of Salamanca.

Graduating with Honours

In 1988 the Old Town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and ten years later in 1998 Salamanca enjoyed another title, European City of Culture. Also, in keeping with it’s scholarly reputation, Salamanca is also the designated spot for the archives pertaining to the Spanish Civil War. You could say it graduates Cum Laude!

Famous students, and famous lecturers have all walked through the gates here over the years – such recognizable names as –

A learning curve – Salamanca

Christopher Columbus

John Mair – the Scottish designer

St John of the Cross

Hernán Cortés

and Miguel de Unamuno – who, famously dismissed for denouncing Franco, returning to his lecture began with the words, ‘As I was saying yesterday….’

Salamanca remains the most popular university in Spain for foreigners to learn Spanish, comparable with the esteemed likes of Oxford and Cambridge in the UK or Trinity College in Dublin.

Camera opportunities

The Famous Frog to walk under


Plenty of ‘great photo’ moments here. If you like Romanesque and Baroque architecture then you are in for a treat or twenty…Apart from the University buildings, the place teems with Religious architecture, Museums, Palaces, Plazas and Palatial houses, you’ll be blown away by the amount of things to see and do in Salamanca. Don’t forget to look out for the frog atop a skull at the entrance to the University, to walk underneath it is to guarantee good luck for the rest of your life, as a student it will pass your exams for you…! Or so the story goes!

Then there’s the old Central Market, the Roman Bridge – where you will find that no less than 15 of the arches are dating from the 1st Century – and of course don’t forget to see the Cave of Salamanca, where Old Nick,  the Devil himself,  once taught Black Magic, I guess for a different sort of student…!

And the weather?

Aren’t we just obsessed by the weather? Unsurprising, really, given that it’s so grey and miserable seemingly all year at home.

It’s blue skies all the way here in Spain. Chilly, dry Winters, wrap up well for all of that walking around and sight seeing, and dry, hot Summers are the benchmark for the weather in Salamanca. So, you decide when you would like it best to go and see the University town with lots to offer the discerning tourist.  Book up and come soon, for the party or for a holiday in the New Year – now, what a clever idea!

Carol Byrne
Posted by Carol Byrne
Originally from Dublin, Carol has also lived in London and Wales before settling in Spain with her husband and family in 2006. She and her family run a rural retreat high in the Alpujarras mountains of Granada, which you can find here as property number 17043. She blogs about traditional village life, sparked by a passion for the culture and history of Spain, and teaches English locally..