With four days to go until New Year’s Eve, we spoke to bloggers and travel industry experts to find out the best places to welcome in 2013.
Hungarians take New Year’s Eve seriously and it should come as no surprise that one of the most exciting places to celebrate the end of one year and the start of another is in the capital city of Budapest.
Szilveszter, as it’s known to the locals, comes in the form of anything from swanky fancy dress balls to dinner on the Danube River with traditional folk dances and live gypsy music.
Partying in one of the many charming and cobbled squares is a great way to welcome in the New Year, and one of the most exciting of these is Vorosmarty Square. Winter parties in this stunning square speckled with snow are already in full force a couple of weeks before the first day of January, with merriments beginning before Christmas.
The special three-day celebration for New Year’s Eve starts on 30th December and includes an eclectic mixture of theatre performances and live music from bands from all over the world, as well as an art and crafts fair with handmade trinkets.
No New Year’s celebration is complete without sampling some of the local food, and Budapest has some scrumptious dishes, from traditional roast pork to a hearty lentil soup. Many revellers taste the regional delicacy in one of Budapest’s restaurants before pouring out onto the streets to continue partying it up!
With streets packed full of people of all ages singing, throwing confetti and blowing on paper horns, the excitement is electrifying, making Budapest one of the best European cities in which to celebrate New Year’s Eve.
> Explore the Hungarian capital with our Budapest travel guides and maps
Away from the coffee shops and the Red Light District, Amsterdam has one of the best nightlife scenes on the continent, and at no time is this better showcased than New Year’s Eve.
One of the biggest events is Heineken Music Hall’s TIKTAK New Year’s Eve – an electro, dubstep and house party that’ll still be in full swing at half five in the morning. But top of my recommendations is Dazzleville, a one-night New Year’s Eve festival featuring 45 DJs on seven stages and boats at NDSM-Wharf. Just about every music taste is catered for (my thing is roots reggae and dub, a genre that receives a dedicated yurt), and at the stroke of midnight a large wooden beast is burned, which has something to do with Chinese astrology.
For something more family-friendly, I’d suggest heading to the official celebrations in Oosterdok, with the iconic Nemo science centre, VOC Ship and Scheepvaartmuseum forming an impressive backdrop to what’s become a legendary fireworks display. This year looks set to be the biggest yet with Amsterdam celebrating a number of milestones next year: its canals will be 400 years old, the Rijksmuseum will reopen after a major renovation and the Artis Zoo – easily the best zoo I’ve been to – will celebrate its 175th anniversary.
Remember to wrap up warm – Amsterdam in mid-winter can get pretty chilly (so cold in fact that the canal’s freeze solid and ice skating usurps cycling as the preferred method of getting around).
> Discover more of Mokum with our Amsterdam street maps and travel guides
Owing to its bright lights and entertainment factor, grim and dreary Blackpool has earned the title of the ‘Vegas of the north’. But I know where I’d rather see in the New Year. Here’s a clue: it doesn’t begin with B. There’s a reason the celebs roll into Sin City year after year, and it’s not for candy floss and Kiss Me Quick hats. True, it’s tacky, but it really is a playground for adults. Want a night to remember? You’ve picked the right place. From dazzling fireworks lighting up the famous strip to poolside parties and top shows featuring big name acts, counting down to midnight in one of the world’s most unique holiday destinations certainly beats spending the night downing shots in another dodgy UK club. And don’t get me started on the gambling. If you’re heading to Vegas, you’ve got to have a go.
> Learn more about Las Vegas with our range of travel guides and maps
The best New Year’s Eve I’ve ever experienced was in Sydney, Australia. Perhaps due to the temperate climate and dazzling sunshine, NYE in Sydney is as much about the daytime activities as it is the night.
We were up and out by 8am to reserve our space on the harbour, picnic rug and snacks spilling out from our shopping bags. During the days leading up to the event the council had been giving out maps in the city listing the best viewing points for the famous fireworks, so we already knew where we were heading. We guarded our small spot of grass all day, enjoying champagne and snacks from the onsite food vans, and when the first round of fireworks went off at 9pm I couldn’t imagine them getting any better at midnight. But they did. The theme that year was ‘Time of Your Life’ – it certainly was.
Jayne is an award-winning travel blogger who manages 40before30.com.
> Explore the best of Sydney with our range of travel guides and maps
Seeing in the New Year is a particular cause for celebration for Reykjavik’s locals, especially near Hallgrimskirkja. Icelandic law states that all fireworks and the sale of fireworks is illegal – but only until 30th December. As a result, every New Year’s Eve the city is lit up with fireworks displays!
Robin is an adventure specialist at My Adventure Store.
> Reveal the best of Reykjavik with our range of maps and travel guides
Rahul Aggarwal: North-east India
North-east India is a remarkable place to spend New Year’s Eve – particularly the state of Meghalaya, known as ‘the Scotland of the east’. Among my favourite destinations is Shillong, the state capital, where the locals put on quite a spectacle where archery is concerned. It’s here that the NYE celebrations are centred, though festivities are relatively low-key and relaxed, which are part of their appeal. Other highlights include driving through a landscape dominated by waterfalls to Cherrapunjee, the wettest place on Earth, and visiting the Sacred Forest of Mawphlang.
Rahul is a director at off-the-beaten track tour operator Travel The Unknown.
> Be inspired by north-east India with our range of travel guides and maps
The capital’s official New Year’s Eve celebrations will culminate with a spectacular fireworks display in front of the London Eye. But where to get the best view? And what else is happening in London?
Caroline Sandes: I’d recommend avoiding the Millennium Bridge, which spans the river between St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tate Modern. While you’d perhaps think you’d get a great view of the fireworks at midnight, the bend in the river and the tall buildings between the bridge and the Eye – from where the fireworks are set off – means you can barely see anything!
Olivia Haughton:Street Feast London in the heart of Shoreditch promises a great evening at any time of year, but it will undoubtedly be even better on New Year’s Eve. With traders serving food from all over the world, it has a real international flavour.
> Discover the best of the capital on NYE with our range of London street maps and travel guides