The decision we have been avoiding for the last 11 months has stepped on the scene – New Year’s Eve is right around the corner and if you have waited the last minute to make up your mind (like most of us did), we are here to save the day! Regardless how high your criteria might be, there is no way you will find a better fun than in the cities we are about to suggest. As we countdown days to the craziest night of the year, we will do the same with the best European destinations to enter 2019!
10) Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul has been low-key for travellers seeking a New Year’s destination, but over the past few years, this vibrant city is a unique experience at any time of the year – imagine then on 31st of December! The evening starts with a festive dinner and main dishes of the national cuisine: sauté from beef, kofte, kebabs, flat cakes, and dessert jersey (carrot juice with nuts) and honey baklava, after which people play the New Year’s lottery Milli Piyango for the prize of 6 million TRY, so everybody buys a few tickets and watches the live broadcast of the drawing. The most popular spot, however, is the Galata Bridge, connecting old and new part of the city, where people come to admire the fireworks from Taksim Square, and continue to the Istiklal street, full of restaurants, bars and discos open until dawn. If you’re not a party maniac, you can always choose a river cruise along the Bosphorus and enter 2019 while sailing through the city.
9) Budapest, Hungary
Considered also one of the most budget-friendly destinations for New Year’s Eve, Budapest’s Szilveszter celebration is a massive party bringing together people from all parts of Europe (or even the world). For Hungarians food plays a very important role in most of celebrations, and New Year is not an exception. There is an entire suite of meals you can eat involving roasted pork, cold pork jelly (‘kocsonya’), cabbage rolls and lentil stew. However, not everything’s about food – the city is well-known for its open-air street parties, held at Vörösmarty Square, Nyugati Square and at the Oktogon intersection. Enjoy the fireworks in the city center, have a glass of champagne and a bite of local food and head to one (or few) organized party in bars and clubs across the city.
8) Copenhagen, Denmark
In Copenhagen, the New Year’s Eve festivities begin with gathering for the chiming of the Town Hall bells at midnight, after which things get off to a wild start. The most popular Danish New Year’s Eve tradition includes breaking plates on your friends’ doors. Apparently it is a good thing, because, in theory, the more plates you get smashed on your door, the more loved you are. Also, if you happen to be indoors when the clock strikes 12, make sure to have a chair nearby as another tradition says you must jump off it at the stroke of midnight. All people indoors jump together, which symbolises leaving behind all the evil from the past year and leaping into the New Year. Tivoli Gardens light up the sky with a Firework Festival, the roller coaster are open, restaurants are serving New Year’s dinner and glögg stalls serve tasty drinks – what else do you need?
7) Madrid, Spain
Like all major European capitals, Madrid celebrates New Year’s Eve, known as Nochevieja, with fancy dinners and lots of dancing, whether it’s in bars and clubs or out on the streets with the rest of the crowd. However, there is one thing that makes Madrid’s celebration different – it is the unique tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight, one for each month of the year. Spaniards believe that this will bring them prosperity and good fortune in the year to come, so they put on some red underwear for good luck, grab a bottle of cava and head to Puerta del Sol to eat 12 grapes of luck. This is the biggest New Year’s Eve celebration in Spain and it’s broadcasted live on television, but the party really starts after midnight when discos and bars fill up with people looking for fun. The night traditionally ends with chocolate con churros.
6) Vienna, Austria
On New Year’s Eve, Vienna comes very much alive with a wide offer of events, from free concerts to glamorous gala dinners and balls. But, the highlight of the 31st of December is, without any doubt, Silvesterpfad (New Year’s Eve Trail) in the Old Town, Vienna’s famous street party spread across the entire historic center, with numerous traditional stalls, food stands and all kinds of entertainment, especially live music concerts including Viennese waltz and operetta. The famous Pummerin chimes at midnight are followed by spectacular firework in front of Hofburg Palace and above the Wiener Prater fair. If you wish for a different perspective of the celebration, have a romantic boat ride along the Danube and enjoy the show.
5) Madeira Islands, Portugal
Placed in the Guinness book of records as the home of the largest show in the world thanks to its spectacular fireworks show, Madeira Islands offer truly an unforgettable experience, regardless if it’s observed from the sea or by land, their light show is the best way to leave the old year behind and embrace the new, fresh start. The longest night in Madeira begins with the arrival of many cruise ships to the Funchal bay. The Madeira Orchestra New Year’s concert is performed at the city pier in front of thousands of people. Don’t forget about good resolutions – tradition says you should make 12 wishes at midnight, climb one step and keep some money in your pocket so the new year brings you prosperity and good luck. The beauty of this charming island, the fireworks, the mild climate, the surrounding countryside, the atmosphere of the New Year are the perfect ingredients to create unforgettable memories.
4) Reykjavik, Iceland
31st of December in Reykjavik might not be as fancy as those in Europe’s major capitals, but it is definitely a unique experience. First things first – there is no official fireworks displays in the city, but thanks to Iceland’s pyrotechnics laws, locals take advantage and shoot more than 500 tons of fireworks into the sky, creating a breathtaking light show. Another local New Year’s Eve tradition is to gather around bonfire. 10 bonfires are organized throughout the city, and people come to since, dance, hang out and burn down everything that was negative for them in the past year. Don’t forget to watch Áramótaskaup as well, the national New Year’s comedy show. After midnight, Icelanders meet in bars and clubs to dance the night away, and if you’re lucky enough, you may see the Northern Lights too!
3) Amsterdam, Netherlands
Known for many as the ‘party capital’ of Europe, Amsterdam never disappoints for New Year’s Eve celebration. The city definitely deserved its reputation, with unorganized street parties filling the large public places like Rembrandtplein, Nieumarkt, Museumplein and Dam Square. Outdoor concerts, bars filled with people, fireworks outside… many things go on during this crazy night in Amsterdam, but make sure to respect some of the local traditions, such as eating oliebollen (deep fried dough balls) and having a good supply of champagne to wash them down with – this custom has roots in an ancient Germanic myth in which oliebollen are believed to ward off evil spirits. After seeing the midnight’s light show from one of the city’s many bridges, head to the club scene, we are sure everyone will find something to everyone’s taste.
2) Edinburgh, Scotland
Scotts definitely know how to party and if you choose Edinburgh as your spot to be on the last day of the year, you will make no mistake because Hogmanay is one of the biggest celebrations in the world. Things get started on 30th of December with the spectacular Torchlight Processions where thousands of people create a river of fire from the Royal Mile to the Calton Hill. Next day, the action moves to Princes Street in the heart of the city, under the backdrop of the majestic Edinburgh Castle, and offers incredible live music and entertainment as well as open bars and food stands and culminates with the world’s biggest rendition of Auld Lang Syne, along with spectacular fireworks high up in the sky as the clock strikes midnight. The 3-day-long celebration ends on 1st of January with a splash in the freezing water of Firth of Forth at South Queensferry.
1) Berlin, Germany
Regardless who makes a New Year’s Eve list, Berlin is always part of it. Go-big-or-go-home attitude towards celebrations, especially when it comes to the last (or first) party of the year, justifies why every year more and more visitors choose German capital for their place to enter the year to come. The highlight is the so-called ‘Party Mile’, a 2-km-long area between Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column, lined with food stalls, party tents, bars, music stages and laser light shows. Fireworks and toasts begin at midnight, after which the crowd splits into different directions to hit the dancefloors until Sun comes up. The Berliner Silversterlauf is also worth mentioning, the infamous ‘pancake run’ traditionally held on 31st of December, when people run the 4-km race with pans in their hands – maybe you will be one of them this year!