There’s one annual event that sets the world alight with fireworks, light shows and enough music to keep partygoers dancing until dawn and that’s New Year’s Eve. It’s that one night of the year many people wait a full three-hundred and sixty four days to go out and celebrate. There really is no other night like it. It’s a night to get your glad rags on, let your hair down, have a few drinks, kiss a stranger, dance in a fountain no matter how cold it is or if you’re in Spanish territories – eat grapes while the clock chimes midnight.
While most of us tend to stick to bringing in the new year with friends or family, sometimes it’s good to experience something new and be somewhere different to your normal pub, club or city centre. Being in a place you’ve never been to before to join in the celebrations adds a whole new dimension to the festivities and that doesn’t mean just trying to get back to your hotel at dawn after being out partying all night.
New Year is celebrated in style in many of the major cities in Europe and each one has its own traditions to make it just that little bit different from the rest. If you haven’t decided where to bring in the next new year, take a look at these cities in Europe with the best new year celebrations. You’ll soon know which one has the right atmosphere for you that will make it just that little bit more special than it already is.
New Year in Edinburgh, or Hogmanay as it’s called in Scotland, is more than just standing around with a drink waiting for midnight. It’s a major knees-up which is perfect for keeping warm when the new year temperatures can be hovering around the 0°C mark. Join the big outdoor party held on Princes Street and be ready for a long, long night of live performances from famous stars and DJs from three different stages plus entertaining street theatre. At midnight there’s a mega fireworks display choreographed to music. The event starts at around seven-thirty and continues into the wee hours. Once you’re there you can’t leave which, let’s be honest, is the perfect excuse for staying out all night.
For a taste of a more authentic Scottish Hogmanay, join the merrymaking at the Ceilidh held under Edinburgh Castle. Traditional ceilidh bands take the stage playing traditional tunes that will have you dancing a jig in no time at all. You may well experience a degree of dizziness as the hands of the clock creep toward that all important hour. Don’t worry, you can always blame it on being spun around and around by the other enthusiastic dancers rather than the effects of any alcohol you might have imbibed. Wearing a kilt is not compulsory.
Not strictly a party as such, but probably one of the most iconic and moving events that takes place in Edinburgh at New Year is the Torchlight Procession. The procession takes place on the evening of December the 30th through the streets of Edinburgh’s Old Town ending in Holyrood Park. It’s an incredible sight to see the torch bearers snake through the city to the grounds of the park where they form a figure. Participants, whether they carry a torch or not, must have a ticket purchased from the Edinburgh Hogmanay box office or via their official website.
New Year’s Eve in Barcelona is when the city really lets its hair down. The spectacular main event takes place in the Placa de Espana spills out onto the Reina Maria Cristina Avenue and up to the foot of the Montjuic Castle. It’s a free party and the crowds cram the streets from early evening onwards.
The city just pulses with music and it’s fiesta, fiesta, fiesta until midnight when everyone stops dancing to chomp on a grape as each chime sounds. Eat all twelve in time with the reverberating dongs and you’ll have good luck in the coming year. The revelries continue with an enormous firework display and an illuminated light show along with synchronised spurts of the Magic Fountain.
Don’t forget to don some red underwear. Nobody can see your crimson unmentionables, but it’s a traditional must-do when going to any Spanish New Year celebration and unlucky if you don’t.
Milan is an Italian city renowned in the fashion world, but it doesn’t need a catwalk to strut its stuff when it comes to New Year celebrations. The main hubs of activity for the end of year event are two of the city’s biggest plazas, the Piazza Duomo and the Piazza Castello. The night starts with live concerts followed by DJs in the Plaza Duomo then after midnight it’s followed by a spectacular fireworks display in the Piazza Castello and even more partying.
If you’re a bigger fan of Christmas than you are of New Year, Milan will suit you totally as the atmospheric Christmas markets stay open until the 6th of January.
Amsterdam is a fun place to visit at any time of the year, but on New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam fun enters into an entire new dimension and you won’t need to consume any hash brownies to get you in the mood to join in. While every square inch of the city seems to be holding its own party, no invitations required, one of the biggest takes place in the Museumplein square. It’s elbow to elbow room only as thousand gather to enjoy live concerts while waiting for midnight. What happens at midnight? All chaos lets loose and the skies of the city light up with a seemingly endless, psychedelic firework show. When the clouds of smoke have cleared, it’s time to dance to dawn and then try not to fall into a canal on the way back to your room.
If you love mayhem, madness and crowds then London is the place for you on New Year’s Eve. While once upon a time stripping off and dancing through the ankle deep waters of the fountains before getting arrested by a handsome policeman who would much rather have been celebrating with his family were the thing, it no longer is.
Now the best New Year celebrations in London happens under the watchful gaze of the London Eye on the South Bank of the Thames. But unless you planned in advance and purchased one of the hundred-thousand available tickets to see the mega fireworks display and be part of the incredible atmosphere, you won’t be able to attend. If you’ve left it too late, then maybe not this year, but as time flies, it won’t be long before the next New Year celebrations are upon us and you can be there as Big Ben strikes the magic midnight hour.
The New Year celebration in London doesn’t stop when the revellers have gone to bed either, but starts again the next day with a massive parade through the city centre that goes on for hours. Is there any better cure for a hangover than marching bands with whistles, drums and trumpets?