Right, are we all done with Christmas now? And ready to start preparing for New Year’s Eve? Well, some of us have been waiting impatiently for the big night and an excuse to get all dressed up for weeks. Celebrating New Year at home is fine, but celebrating New Year in one of Europe’s finest cities is priceless. We’ve grilled the great and good from trendy European city destinations near and far to ensure you welcome the arrival of 2011 in style. No doubt that New Year city breaks are an exciting way to end the festive season. The most popular short break destinations feature legendary celebrations from Trafalgar Square in London to Brandenburger Tor in Berlin.
Whether you’re a couple looking for romance or a night owl in search of a party, we have come up with the potted guide to the New Year’s Eve of your dreams. You’ll have to be quick though – it’s already tomorrow. So, since we have sorted out where to go, now all you have to do is worry about what to wear… And why not blow the budget while you’re at it!
Best for party-goers, Amsterdam
If you’re already feeling the beat and if you see New Year’s Eve as the ultimate excuse for a world class party, Amsterdam is your ideal destination. It’s hip, it’s vibrant and it doesn’t sleep until last man (or woman) standing. So, why do we love Amsterdam so much? Well, first of all it’s easy to get to and easy to get back home after a weekend of celebrations. And we love the all-night New Year party at the Westergasfabriek. This is for real party-goers! After its closure in the 60s, the building lay dormant until 2003, when it was restored as a cultural hub of gallery and restaurants, with a 3,500-capacity performance space in the old cylindrical gasometer. Local techno promoter Awakenings has been holding all-night New Year’s Eve raves in the gasometer since its reinvention. It might not be as iconic as the big ball dropping in Times Square, but if there is one party you should be at, this is the one!
Best for romantics, Venice
Cliché? Well, perhaps but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a weekend of romance in one of the most romantic cities in the world…and what better time to test the cliché than during New Year. Romance and love will most definitely be in the air in this beautiful Italian city. San Marco Square will be awash with smoochers this New Year’s Eve as the ‘Capodanno Love 2011’ event is aiming to fondle its way into the Venetian tradition once again, having hit the headlines for its climatic mass kiss the two previous years. After the kiss, sneak away from the masses and north towards the Naranzaria wine bar for a bottle of Prosecco on the loggia overlooking the Grand Canal. It doesn’t get much more romantic than this. And the next morning, you can jump on a vaporetto for an hour’s cruise across the peaceful island of Murano. Now, we just need to decide who to bring.
Best for home grown talent, London
Ever since it was built the London Eye has been the centre of attention in the English capital when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve. So, for those of you who can face the hordes of revellers lining up along the Thames, London’s firework display around the London Eye should provide a good blast into the New Year. The arrival of 2011 is bound to be welcomed with a bang. And where better to see in the New Year than within earshot of Big Ben? Live action can also be viewed on screens in iconic locations such as Trafalgar and Parliament Squares. The next day, marching bands, cheerleaders and acrobats parade past landmarks. Going on images of a past event, you might catch a glimpse of a psychedelic Godzilla eating Big Ben to fix that hangover. Who said we Brits don’t know how to throw a party?! We didn’t! And with some of the country’s most fashionable hotels around, staying in luxury is the perfect ending to 2010. We’ve already booked our train ticket! Do you blame us?!
Best for old favourites, Paris
New Year’s Eve in Paris is marked by a spectacular light display on the Eiffel Tower, as well as fireworks. For a spot of romance take a cruise along the Seine, then join the street celebrations, of if you’d rather party hard, there are plenty of Paris clubs open well into the night. You can also head for the Promenade Plantee, an elevated walkway that runs through the 12th arrondissement. You’ll pass plenty of revellers heading in the opposite direction towards the overcrowded Champs-Elysées, but carry on towards the Seine, where dozens of intimate bars line the streets around the Pont de Bercy. Alternatively for a spot of magic choose New Year at Disneyland. And bring the whole family of course. Children (and adults!) are bound to enjoy the thousands of twinkling lights and the huge street party culminating in impressive fireworks over Sleeping Beauty Castle. A true fairytale…
Best beyond Europe…
Of course there are many stylish destinations across the globe where welcoming the arrival of 2011 is as iconic as the cities themselves. And when you think New Year celebrations, you also think New York. Watching the 60-second ball drop in Times Square is one of the definite ways to spend a New Year break. At midnight the ball becomes ablaze with light, then the fireworks kick off and coloured confetti rains down, sparking the party into life. But that’s not all – you can also see in the New Year from Brooklyn Bridge or even join the Central Park Midnight Run.
If you’ve already been there, done that and want to try something different, Las Vegas never sleeps and New Year’s Eve here is bigger and better than most. The Strip is closed to traffic and becomes the longest New Year street party in the US. So, get a good viewing spot at midnight when the big casinos let off thousands of pounds worth of fireworks.
And finally, why not be one of the first to see in the New Year on a Sydney New Year break. The fireworks spurting into the sky from the Sydney Harbour Bridge and around the harbour are truly spectacular and you even get to watch two lots: the family fireworks at 9pm followed by the grand finale at midnight. You might not manage it this year, but why not start planning for next year?! With so much choice, so many parties to go to and so many chic cities to experience, it’s a real shame that New Year only comes around once a year. We might just squeeze in a city break to some of these destinations during 2011. Just call it research for next year’s celebrations!