New Year’s Eve in Europe
For New Year’s Eve in Iceland, everyone buys their own fireworks and lights them up from their yard or street at midnight creating one big 360° display. Then there’s partying into the wee hours. Wherever you go, New Year’s Eve is a big party and here’s our pick of where to party in Europe on this magical night.
Street parties in Amsterdam
Laid back Amsterdam revs up the volume when it comes to the end of the year. While the city has organized parties in the major squares of Museumplein, Rembrandtplein, Nieuwmarkt and Dam Square, it’s hard not to be caught up in the random street parties that spring up across every corner of the city. The official main fireworks shoot is at the Oosterdok with the Scheepvaartmuseum forming the backdrop for a dazzling fireworks display. Elsewhere, the canals of the Amstel are lit up with impromptu displays by the partying locals.
A good vantage point to take in the atmosphere and the city’s unique skyline is the Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge) between Keizersgracht (Emperor’s Canal) and Prinsengracht (Prince’s Canal), before heading out to the bars and clubs which are open throughout the night.
To keep up the energy levels, refuel on tasty Dutch cakes called oliebollen (round doughnuts coated with sugar icing) found at stands across the city. The next day go local and hire a bike to explore the quaint cobblestoned streets of the Jordaan. Amsterdam’s major museums are open on January 1st.
For more information visit www.iamsterdam.com
Berlin isn’t shy when it comes to a party. When it comes to New Year’s Eve, known here as “Silvester,” Berlin leads the pack. The official center of festivities is the “Party Mile,” a two-kilometer stretch of bars, pop-up snack stalls and live music in Tiergarten between the iconic Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column. Last year the party drew over a million revelers.
Off the Brandenburg Gate, there’s an impressive fireworks display at midnight. Then you can head out to sample the city’s notoriously hedonistic nightlife. The Kulturbrauerei in trendy Prenzlauer Berg will be the biggest indoor New Year’s Eve party in Berlin. Located in a courtyard near the Eberswalder Strasse U-bahn station, the Kulturbrauerei opens its doors and with one ticket you can sample 9 different clubs. For those wanting to avoid the dance floor or who are visiting with children, Zitadelle Castle in Spandau, a fun family-orientated option northwest of the city near Tegel airport. Otherwise, the Weihnachtszauber am Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market holds a New Year’s soirée of its own, complete with a showband to get the party going.
For those still standing the next day, Berlin holds the Silvesterlauf “Pancake Race,” a four-kilometer New Year’s run that starts from Brandenburg Gate at noon sharp.
For more information visit www.berlin-enjoy.com
For many Edinburgh is the home of New Year. The city’s Hogmanay, meaning “last day of the year,” draws partygoers from around the world. Edinburgh takes on the New Year with Scottish bonhomie and gusto. No wonder the party lasts three days. A spectacular, winding torchlight procession on December 30th gets the party officially started. The procession finishes with a fireworks finale and a music concert in Princes Street Gardens.
On New Year’s Eve the city is taken over with huge street parties and outdoor concerts with all manner of live music. A popular draw is the open-air Kelidh in the Old Town and the candlelit concert at St Giles’ Cathedral. At midnight even five tons of fireworks exploding over Edinburgh Castle cannot drown out a million voices singing “Auld Lang Syne.”
The next day the hardier souls absolve themselves for the indulgences of the night before by donning fancy dress and jumping into the ice-cold waters of the River Forth at the end of the Loony Dook Parade.
For more information visit www.edinburghshogmanay.com
Shenanigans in London
London’s riverside and Trafalgar Square are the focus of the capital’s New Year’s shenanigans. As the bells of Big Ben chime midnight to bring in the new year, an expected crowd of 250,000 people will watch impressive fireworks and light displays from along the River Thames and its bridges. A good vantage point is the Millennium Bridge crossing the river between the Tate Modern and St Pauls affording spectacular views of London’s fabulous skyline. Throughout the city, there are numerous after parties at clubs and bars. Places to take in the atmosphere and join the coterie are Soho, particularly in the area off Old Compton Street, and around Old Street.
The next morning sees an annual New Year’s Day Parade through central London that kicks off at Piccadilly Circus with 10,000 street performers expected this year.
For more information visit www.visitlondon.com
Bonne Année in Paris
Traditionally a highlight in the French calendar, Paris celebrates in style. Over 600,000 revelers descend on the Champs Elysées. As midnight strikes, locals wish each other Bonne Année! (Happy New Year!) and exchange polite bises (kisses) on each cheek. There are parties throughout the capital. Paris is an intimate city so many people celebrate in less crowded districts such as well-heeled Saint Germain, risqué Montmartre or edgy Oberkampf. You can pick a spot on the Île Saint-Louis and listen for Notre Dame to strike.
The next day, explore the beautiful district of the Marais with its numerous bistros and museums and have fresh coffee or luxuriously indulgent hot chocolate in one of the many cafés that circuit the elegant square of Place des Vosges.
For more information visit www.parisinfo.com