A church covered in a colorful light display during New Years Eve Antigua Guatemala

New Year’s Eve in Antigua Guatemala

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Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Antigua Guatemala was one of the highlights of our time there. We are not people that mind too much where we end up for New Year’s. But New Year’s Eve in Antigua was unexpectedly awesome.

So if you are wondering where to spend New Year’s in Guatemala we can highly recommend Antigua! 🥳 Let me show you why and what to expect in this blog post.

Guatemala New Year Traditions

Guatemala has some unique traditions around New Year that we also saw in other Latin American countries and often have roots in Spain.

1. Fireworks

As with all other Latinos, Guatemalans love to make a lot of noise when they celebrate! It is something that we love about Latin America. So get ready for many loud bangs during New Year’s in Antigua Guatemala!

People will set off firecrackers (muchos!) and fireworks all over the city. It often scared the crap out of us. But the locals would not even blink at the huge explosions. It was incredible how little they seemed to notice it.

But the firecrackers and fireworks do not just start on New Year’s Eve. For practically the whole of December, you will hear bangs all over the city. Sometimes starting in the middle of the night.

So I highly recommend sleeping with earplugs. Although you should have them any time you are in Latin America! You never know when someone will start making noise.

Read here: This is Christmas in Antigua 🤩

A tuk tuk driving down a cobble stone street with Christmas decoration in Antigua Guatemala

2. Lucky Grapes

One tradition in Guatemala for New Year’s you may notice involves grapes. As it got closer to New Year’s the supermarkets and street markets were full of grapes.

Everyone was lining up to buy them because it is a tradition to eat them on New Year’s Eve called Las Doce Uvas de la Suerte, meaning the 12 Lucky Grapes. Eating 12 grapes as the clock ticks over will give you luck for the 12 months of the year ahead.

So if you want to celebrate like a local buy some grapes. Eat 12 of them at the stroke of midnight. Or grab a bottle of red wine and have 12 sips of liquid grapes 😆

Fun Fact: It’s said that grape farmers in Spain wanted an excuse to sell more grapes so they invented this tradition lol.

Where to Celebrate New Year’s Eve In Antigua Guatemala

Multiple places in Antigua are great for celebrating New Year’s Eve depending on what type of traveler you are. We recommend the main square or Cerro de la Cruz!

1. Antigua’s Main Square (Parque Central)

The best place to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Antigua Guatemala is at the main square. We had no plan when we walked into town that night. There is usually something happening at the main square in Latin American cities so off we went.

7.30 PM

Lucky us! We were surprised to find a full stage and DJ set up. The DJ was playing fun electronic music which is fortunately our favorite type of music.

It was an odd type of music because many families with young children were around. But everyone was dancing along – even the grandparents!

The atmosphere was super friendly and fun. We had a blast and felt like being at a real outdoor musical festival.

Tip: Try some street food in front of the Iglesia de la Merced. On the square will be lots of vendors selling tamales and all types of other local food.

11 PM

After the DJ played for hours, an MC came onto the stage leading through the night in Spanish. She was announcing the start of a light show displayed on the side of the main church next to the stage, finished off with fireworks. The show lasted for 15 minutes.

It was amazing, especially because we had no idea all this would happen. We have seen similar light shows before in Mexico, where it is popular to show the city’s history on the outside walls of main churches. If you have never seen one before, it’s a must-see for you!

Read here: Which Antigua’s Ruins to See and Skip

A church covered in a light show for New Years Antigua Guatemala

11.15 PM

A few minutes after the light show had finished, a band from Mexico called Tijuana Love came on stage playing pop music and singing in Spanish. The square was full of young and old people dancing the night away.

The band was good and the people around us seemed to like it but we liked the DJ better. But that’s more a personal preference.

Read here: 16 Cheap Things to do in Antigua 🤩

11.50 PM

Close to midnight, another light spectacle filled up the air accompanied by music. A bunch of drones took off and created cool shapes in the sky. It lasted for about 7 minutes.

We had never seen a drone show before so we were blown away. The city really put on an amazing event considering it was all for free.

In between the acts the MC would announce how much time left there was until midnight while mascots were dancing and waving next to her on stage. It was hilarious.

Book: Flexible cheap travel health insurance with SafetyWing. Read about our experience plus other options here ✈️

Midnight

A few minutes before midnight the MC came back on stage telling down until midnight with everyone joining in. 3, 2, 1 – Happy New Year! Or in Spanish: Feliz Año Nuevo! 🥂

Although there must have been thousands of people on and around the square it never felt enclosed or too crowded which was great. At any time there was always enough space to move around.

Simultaneously the light display on top of a roof next to the square showing the numbers 2023 and 2024, switched from lighting up 2023 to lighting up 2024.

And of course, big colorful fireworks went off, lasting about 5 minutes. After that, the Mexican band that played before filled the air with their lyrics again. We could have not wished for a better start to the New Year!

This was the first year this event called Lumino Fest was put on for New Year’s in Antigua Guatemala. So check before going if it will happen again.

People walking down the main street of Antigua Guatemala on New Years Eve at sunset

2. Cerro de la Cruz (Antigua’s best Viewpoint)

Cerro de la Cruz is a popular lookout on a hilltop and one of the top things to do in Antigua. I recommend going there during the day to see Antigua from the top with the surrounding volcanoes Agua, Acantenango and Fuego.

Usually, it is not advised to go up there after sunset due to safety reasons and the police stopping patrolling the area after 6 pm. But on New Year’s Eve, it’s different.

After celebrating New Year’s Eve on Antigua’s main square we found out that the same Festival also took place at Cerro de la Cruz. We can’t tell if it was good, but it could be for sure a great option as you will overlook Antigua!

On the Lumino Fest website, we found this timetable (2023):

  • 19:30 Concierto Grupo Mélody
  • 21:30 Fire Performance
  • 22:30 Concierto Sinfónico Javier & Big Band
  • 00:30 Drone Show

So it looks like you would have more classical music playing and no church light show, but a fire performance instead and the drone show we described above. If you go let us know in the comments below how it was!

Read here: How to get to Cerro de la Cruz 🥾

A man standing next to a cross overlooking Antigua

3. Cervecerias for New Year in Antigua Guatemala

If celebrating at the main square or at Cerro de la Cruz is not your thing, then Antigua has a couple of awesome breweries that would be great to celebrate New Year’s at.

🍻 Cerveceria Catorce – is a large open-air beer garden just outside of Antigua. They have a wide selection of craft beers brewed on-site. The views of the volcanoes are amazing. They have an event on New Year’s Eve so check what is happening before going.

🍻 El Bosque Cerveceria – is another brewery much closer to the city center. It is located in a really nice green area. They have outdoor fire pits and brew their own beer. El Bosque also has an event on New Year’s Eve but you will most likely have to pay for entrance.

Read here: 9 Cheap Eats in Antigua 🫔

Outdoor area of Cerveceria 14 in Antigua Guatemala with tables and umbrellas

4. Best Bars Antigua Guatemala

We are not the biggest bar hoppers and have not spent a lot of time in bars in Antigua. But below are some of the bars we saw or went to that looked like the best places to spend New Year’s in Antigua Guatemala.

🍷 Cafe Sky Bar – has one of the best rooftop views to watch the last sunset of the year in Antigua. It gets full early even on a normal weekend. So it is likely to be packed very early on New Year’s Eve.

🍷 Cafe No Se – is a cool mezcal bar with a dark dive bar feel. We popped our heads in there and it looked like a great place to have some high-quality mezcal.

🍷 El Illegal – is another bar with a dive bar feel. It has cheap happy hours every day. It is not a place to party but a good place to chill with a couple of drinks.

🍷 Bullseye Sports Pub – is a more rowdy sports bar. It was always filled with foreigners and locals whenever we walked past.

🍷 Tabacos y Vinos la Antigua – is a cool wine bar located next to the Santa Cataline Arch. This area is packed during New Year. So is a great place to have a glass of wine and watch people pass by.

Read here: 14 Best Cafes in Antigua ☕️

A beautiful old ruin in Antigua Guatemala lit up at night

5. On Top of Acatenago Volcano

Another option to celebrate New Year’s Eve is on the famous Acatenango Hike. Waking up on the first of January on top of a volcano and watching Fuego erupt sounds epic!

The hike up Acatenango would start on December 31st in the morning and finish on the 1st of January at midday. It’s a popular activity so you would need to book in advance.

The tour guides usually always bring up a bottle of wine to share at the fireplace at night so your New Year booze and Guatemalan lucky grapes tradition is taken care of 😉

👉 Book a New Year’s Acatenango Hike here 🌋

Fuego erupting with a smoke cloud in the sky at sunset

Where to Stay in Antigua for New Year’s

Antigua is generally not a cheap place to stay and prices can go up over New Year’s Eve or sell out quickly. But if you book in advance you should still find good options.

Antigua Housesitting

A great way to spend New Year’s is in someone’s house while they celebrate somewhere else. You can sign up for free on Trusted Housesitters and apply for a pet sit! We have done multiple petsits around the world, most of them in Mexico.

You will look after someone’s home and pet while they are away and get a free place to stay in return. There are responsibilities involved but you will still have enough free time.

There aren’t as many housesits in Guatemala as in other countries, but at least once a month we see one pop up in Antigua, Guatemala City or Lake Atitlan.

Sign up to Trusted House Sitters for free + use code HAPPYHEALTHYNOMADS at checkout for a 25% discount on your membership! 🐶 Read about how it works and our experiences here.

TrustedHousesitters - See the world in a new way

Antigua Hostels

Antigua has plenty of cheap hostels to stay at but two are standing out to me. Plus I have stayed in both of them during my first trip to Guatemala.

🛌 Somos Hostel – they have excellent reviews from thousands of guests and a great location in central Antigua. A dorm bed costs 15 USD per night and each bed has its own pod and privacy curtain.

🛌 Tropicana Hostel – has more of a party vibe so might be the better choice for New Year’s. It is a super popular hostel with a bar and they also organize hikes to Fuego which is a must-do in Antigua. Dorm beds cost 10 USD per night.

Book the cheapest Antigua hostels here or search for more here 👇

A tuktuk driving through the yellow Santa Catalina Arch

Antigua Hotels

There are also plenty of hotels in Antigua ranging from budget-friendly to 5 stars. I have listed here two great cheap options for you.

😴 Posada Maya – is the cheapest hotel I was able to find. The rooms are very basic but clean and a double room can cost as little as 15 USD per night!

😴 Magnolias – is a great choice if you have a higher budget. They have very tidy beautiful rooms for around 60 USD a night.

😴 Santo Domingo – if you want to splash out for New Year then stay in this hotel museum that is built in Antigua ruins! It has a spa, restaurant and airport transfer.

Search for more hotels here or here 👇

Antigua Airbnb

We spent two months in an Airbnb in December and January just outside Antigua and we loved it. Our host Evelyn was super friendly and her property is a beautiful, peaceful place.

Currently, one month in one of Evelyn’s studios is 1200 USD which is out of our price range. But we were lucky enough to get a good discount from Airbnb.

If you don’t mind being on the outskirts of town then it is a great place to stay and work for a while. The rooms have their own kitchen, fast wifi and an amazing volcano view. So everything you could want as a digital nomad.

Did our tips help you out? Say thanks with a coffee here! 💛

View from an Airbnb balcony in Antigua Guatemala towards a volcano

Enjoy New Year’s Eve in Antigua Guatemala!

Antigua is not a town that people connect with spending New Year’s Eve. But it is an excellent choice, especially since the launch of the Lumino Fest. So if you were wondering where to celebrate New Year’s in Guatemala, we hope you found the answer!

We didn’t have much expectations when going but it ended up being one of the best New Year’s Eve we had – plus it was completely free! So I’m sure you will not be disappointed with spending New Year’s Eve in Antigua Guatemala.

Bookmark this page for later, leave a comment if you have any questions and get more travel tips in our other Antigua articles linked below.

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Hi, I am Katharina, super passionate about travel, sustainability and minimalism from Austria. I love sunshine, beaches, coffee and light travel gear. For the last 4+ years I'm traveling the world as a digital nomad and hope my tips inspire you to chase your dreams and get out of your comfort zone.

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