City Breaks | 5 minutes

The Best Cities to Celebrate New Year’s Eve

Every city has its own special way to celebrate the beginning of a new year. Fireworks, champagne, light shows, and parties being constants. But, torch-lit parades, comedy shows which only air once a year, and dancing in museums? Read on to discover all these quirky traditions at the very best cities around Europe to spend the last night of the year!

1. Edinburgh, Scotland

Image Source: Avis

Edinburgh hosts one of the world’s best New Year’s traditions known as Hogmanay. Hogmanay is the Scots word for New Year’s Eve, and now represents the three-day festival celebrating the start of a new year. With energetic cultural events scattered all throughout the city, Hogmanay promises to be a New Year’s celebration like no other.

On December 30th, a torchlit procession illuminates Edinburgh’s streets as over 1,000 people march to live music through the city. Best of all, there’s a spectacular firework show over the enchanting Edinburgh Castle as the clock strikes midnight on December 31st.

Last but not least, join in the wild crowds who plunge into the ice-cold waters of Firth of Forth at South Queensferry the next day. This wild event is known as Loony Dook, which roughly translates to lunatic bath in English!

2. Berlin, Germany

Image Source: TheBetterVacation.com

Berlin’s vivacious energy and reputation for thrilling nightlife establish it as one of the best places to spend the last night of the year. Lively New Year’s Eve Parties pop up all around the city on the 31st of December. Some of the city’s famous techno clubs don’t close at all, hosting parties that sometimes last for multiple days straight!

For one night only, the city of Berlin lifts its restrictions on possessing pyrotechnics, and amateur firework shows bring the city to life. Then, at midnight, the real show begins at Brandenburg Gate as the official firework display kicks off.

You can enjoy excellent sweeping views of the fireworks from one of Berlin’s many rooftop bars. Alternatively, if you prefer to be in the centre of the action, head right to Brandenburg Gate and join the Silvester Party, one of Europe’s largest open-air parties. Over one million people gather here on New Year’s Eve!

3. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Image Source: Flying Pig Hostels

Brilliant firework shows and parties lining the streets make up Amsterdam’s New Year’s Festivities. People from all over the world travel to the Venice of the North to ring in the New Year. Here, there’s a party for everyone, from warehouse dance raves to classy formal events. Aside from Amsterdam’s world-renowned nightlife, the celebration wouldn’t be complete without champagne and olieballen, scrumptious Dutch doughnuts, which you can get at stands all around the city.

Of course, the sky lights up at midnight with fireworks in all directions. Some of the best places to see the displays are along the streets and canals. However, be careful as people will set off fireworks of their own wherever they can find enough space!

Though the atmosphere may be a little rowdy, it’s a truly wonderful time to wander the canals as they’ll be all decorated and illuminated for the Amsterdam Light Festival which goes on until January. Then, the next day, join in the New Year’s Swim where thousands of people run into the frigid North Sea!

4. Paris, France

Image Source: Hostel BVJ Paris

Where better to celebrate the new year than in the City of Lights? There are so many ways to enjoy New Year’s Eve in Paris that there’s bound to be something for everyone. Though there are many street parties going on, the official gathering takes place on the Champs-Élysées towards the Arc de Triomphe.

By 9 PM, crowds begin to form in anticipation of the midnight light show to come. Stunning lights dance upon the Arc de Triomphe, while colourful fireworks erupt behind it. After the show ends, there are tons of incredible bars, restaurants, and clubs which stay open for the continued New Year’s Eve celebration.

For a different perspective, head up the hill to Montmartre where you can see incredible panoramic views of the city. Many people gather on the steps of the Sacré-Coeur or the squares around it to watch the fireworks pop up around the cityscape.

5. London, England

Image Source: Montcalm Hotel

From river cruises to magical firework shows, New Year’s Eve in London does not disappoint. The official firework display takes place over the Thames right as Big Ben strikes midnight and features an impressive 12,000 fireworks! However, in London, you must purchase tickets to secure a spot near the riverbank to see the official fireworks, so plan ahead and get yours well in advance. Otherwise, you can still enjoy the show from a rooftop bar.

Besides the fireworks, there are tons of interesting parties going on New Year’s Eve in London. For example, you can celebrate the coming of a new year in Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre with a delicious four-course meal at Swan. Or, you can don your masquerade mask and head to the Heads and Tails bar in West Hampstead for their Romeo & Juliet New Year’s Ball.

The Natural History Museum hosts one of the most unique New Year’s parties in the city, with a dance beneath the enormous blue whale, a silent disco, edible insects, and live music! Then, after a hearty hangover brunch, you can head out to watch the lively New Year’s Day parade the following morning.

6. Reykjavik, Iceland

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New Year’s in Iceland offers something different in addition to the standard epic firework shows and all-night discos. Icelandic culture and customs are at the forefront of how Reykjavik rings in the New Year. Áramótaskaup, a satirical sketch comedy show, airs right before midnight and pokes fun at all the news of the previous year. It’s a staple in Icelandic New Year’s and has been broadcast on New Year’s Eve since 1966.

Huge, radiant bonfires where people gather in large groups and celebrate are also common in Reykjavik. Then, at midnight, people from all over the city launch fireworks into the sky in a majestic display of excitement and energy. These fireworks aren’t necessarily well-planned displays but rather impromptu explosions of excitement at the start of the new year.

One of the best places to get a good sweeping view of the fireworks is  Öskjuhlíð Hill. However, if you’d rather be a part of the madness, head to the Hallgrímskirkja Church in the city centre and join in the crowds shooting off their own fireworks. The personal fireworks are actually sold by the Iceland Search and Rescue team and are their biggest fundraising event of the year! After the fireworks, people hit the nightclubs and bars for a bit of traditional dancing and partying.

Explore a New Year’s Holiday at any of these spectacular cities, and ring in 2020 in style!


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