The magic is palpable in European cities at this time of the year, and while staycations are great – there’s no feeling quite like ringing in the New Year abroad.
Whether you’re looking for the wildest nights out or to enjoy the picture perfect Christmas markets, it’s time to get the passport out.
I’ve been lucky enough to have enjoyed a few NYE’s away and here are my top 5 picks:
I think Brussels gets a bad rep. I never hear a whole lot of positive reports about it, but anyone who hasn’t been there on New Year’s Eve is missing out. It is packed with Christmas Markets and the minute you step outside you are greeted with an aromatic wave of mulled wine. Between this and Belgium Waffles you don’t even need to go near a restaurant.
The main square, Grand-place de Bruxelles, is a sight to behold. There is constant music ringing from street acts and when night falls, the entire square is illuminated with a light show. These lights bring the surrounding buildings to life as they dance to the beat of the music.
Place de Brouckere is where the fireworks are set off and let me warn you the streets will be absolutely packed for it. It’s a spectacular display and the live concert, that accompanies it as the countdown begins, is pure magic.
Right, let’s take a trip on the romantic side of things and let’s be honest, there is nowhere as romantic as Paris. I’m not saying you can’t enjoy it with a group of friends or family, mind you. The streets, bars and clubs will be hopping and you will have no shortage of parties to attend. But imagine standing beneath the Eiffel Tower as the fireworks burst around it with the other-half… That’s special.
The other major selling point is the Christmas market on the Champs Elysees. I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a more magical place in real life. It is hut after hut of French delicacies mixed with your favorite Christmas treats (can I interest you in cranberry sauce covered frog legs?) along with decorations and other festive bits. The best part is the Ice Rink. Whether you hate it or love it, is there a better way to enter 2019 than slipping into it.
The beautiful Capital of Germany has been at the top of every NYE list as far back as I can remember. I’m not sure it’s still the ‘hot spot’ but it definitely still deserves to be considered this New Years Eve. Nightclubs in Berlin rarely close on a normal day, like the famous Berghain club which opens on a Friday and doesn’t shut its doors until the Monday (do people actually stay for the entire thing?) so you can only imagine what NYE will be like.
The beauty is at Brandenburger Gate, mind you. They gather up to one million people in the area every year. There is a whopping two kilometer stretch of Christmas fun including festive food and drink, laser shows and of course live music and DJ sets. Can you really ask for anything more from one area?
It may not seem like the most exotic destination, but let’s not forget our neighbours. The convenience of this trip isn’t the only selling point – the city will be lit up with so many parties you won’t know where to look. And after trying a few of them out, it won’t matter so just dive in.
If you don’t fancy heading to one of these parties, South Bank is the place to see the fireworks. This famous area is home to some of London’s most treasured attractions such as Big Ben and the London Eye. I wouldn’t even try get a place on the London Eye on New Years Eve, but instead enjoy the midnight sky come alive from the ground. The area will be bustling with people ringing in the New Year, packed with Christmas markets and I’m sure you’ll find somewhere to have a celebratory drink.
Germany is obviously doing something right with two cities on the list. Cologne is a bit of a hidden gem and and it has seriously taken off this year – everybody is talking about it. It’s going to be like a J1 reunion over there with the amount of people who have told me they are going – seriously.
Millions of visitors from around the world head to the west side city to enjoy the Christmas spread. I’ve mentioned Markets in the previous cities, but this takes it to a whole new level with so many to choose from. Cathedral Christmas Market, Old Town, Angels and Harbour, to name a few, all have their own twists.
The city literally lights up with the amount of fireworks they set off and a bridge along the River Rhine is one of the best places to catch them.
These are a few of my favourite places that will be perfect to kick-off the new year so get booking before it’s too late.