If you’re looking for somewhere to ring in the New Year and want the ‘wow’ factor, here are some of the most exciting destinations in Europe to party in style on New Year's Eve.
Join one of Europe’s biggest street parties in Berlin on 31 December, held in the 2km stretch between the iconic Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column. Admission is free and the party atmosphere is legendary, with an anticipated one million attendees. DJ sets, live music and light shows set the scene.
The German capital’s nightlife is famous for its diversity and hedonism, and at Kulturbrauerei, Berlin’s biggest indoor New Year’s Eve party takes place, where one ticket will give you entrance to 13 different dance floors, 30 DJs, and live bands. That’s not the only party in town of course, and whether your tastes tend towards cutting edge techno in a club that stays open for days, or a cruise on a historical boat on the Spree River, you’ll find it all here.
You might also like: A guide to Berlin clubs: organised hedonism
Fireworks are an integral part of most NYE experiences and in Lisbon you have the advantage of multiple great vantage points: from one of the seven hills, from within the city itself, or by the Tagus River. Portugal’s biggest square, Praça do Comércio is popular gathering point for celebrations, as is the 16th-century tower Torre de Belem, for music, parties and fun with views over the Atlantic.
The Portuguese capital is foodie heaven, boasting several Michelin-starred restaurants, and many hotels and restaurants offer special NYE dinners. Alternatively, you could opt for a private river tour; take in Portuguese traditional music at a live fado folk music show, or embark on a bar crawl. Bairro Alto is the best area in which to experience Lisbon’s vibrant nightlife, with its wide range of hopping clubs and cool bars. If you want to celebrate the dawning of a New Year in the Portuguese style, it’s customary to eat 12 raisins, one by one at midnight, accompanied by a glass of sparkling wine.
You might also like: A food lover's guide to Lisbon
A trip to Paris is always magical and on New Year’s Eve it lives up to its nickname, the City of Lights. Revellers can choose to head to the Champs-Élysées – the site of the city’s official street party – for a sound and light show, or to the Sacré Coeur plaza in Montmartre, which has an incredible view of the Paris skyline.
Paris and gastronomy go hand in hand, so dinner in one of its celebrated restaurants should prove to be as memorable as any fireworks display. A show is another great option, whether that’s at the dazzling Moulin Rouge in Pigalle, or at the Lido de Paris, where you can welcome the New Year with a five-course gourmet dinner, champagne and the Paris Merveilles show. Rooftop parties, masked balls and an 80s/90s club night are just some of the other thrilling party experiences where visitors can welcome in 2020.
Dublin rightly enjoys a reputation for being a party capital, and for New Year's Eve the city goes all out. Dublin is easy to explore on foot, allowing visitors to experience myriad NYE experiences and take in some of the major attractions en route, whether that’s Dublin’s oldest building, Christchurch Cathedral, or a pint of plain at the Guinness Storehouse.
There are several events scheduled as part of Dublin’s New Year’s Eve Festival, including an outdoor concert at Custom House Quays, where rock band Walking On Cars headline, and a spectacular lights display over the river Liffey to see in the New Year. The next day, revellers can head to the bustling Temple Bar area for a family-friendly gig with Irish folk group Kila.
Hogmanay in Edinburgh should be on everyone’s New Year’s Eve bucket list: it’s a street party beyond compare, with ceilidhs, music, fireworks and rousing renditions of Auld Lang Syne. The city’s torchlight procession through the city centre, accompanied by pipes and drums, is a memorable experience and each year the Concert in the Gardens draws the crowds: this year Mark Ronson is the star attraction.
There are candlelit concerts in St Giles Cathedral; a giant ceilidh at Edinburgh Castle and DJ Judge Jules takes to the decks at McEwan Hall for the official Hogmanay after-party. For anyone feeling the after affects the next day, an invigorating splash in the River Forth with the annual Loony Dook will brush the cobwebs away.
Many residents of Sweden’s capital city choose to stay at home on NYE or have dinner with friends, but that’s not to say travellers to Stockholm won’t find plenty to do. Making sure you’re wrapped up well first, Stadshuset, Fjällgatan and the bridges Västerbron and Skanstullsbron are all great places to view the fireworks at midnight over the Royal Castle.
Visitors can take in a New Year’s Eve concert at Stockholm Cathedral for a performance of music by Haydn and Greig with musicians from the Royal Swedish Orchestra, or celebrate at open-air museum Skansen, where Tennyson’s New Year's poem Ring Out Wild Bells is recited every year and broadcast live on Swedish television. The Södermalm area in west Stockholm is your destination for hip bars and nightclubs, where you can party until the small hours while you wish fellow partiers gott nytt år, or Happy New Year.
New Year’s Eve, or Nochevieja as it’s known in Spain, will show visitors just how much the Madrileños like to party. Madrid is famed for its lively bars and some of the best clubs in Spain (they don’t close until 6am), and festivities begin to ramp up just before midnight on New Year’s Eve and continue long into the night. Celebrate with the crowds at Puerta del Sol, the historic square from which all Spanish roads are measured and the most popular place to ring in the New Year in Madrid. A bottle of cava and grapes is a must, as the tradition is to eat 12 grapes in the last 12 seconds of the countdown.
An alternative spot to ring in the New Year is around Templo de Debod, the ancient Egyptian temple given to Spain as a gift and which affords great views of the fireworks. There are hundreds of nightclubs to choose from in the city. Two of the most famous are Teatro Kapital, which has seven dancefloors and live performances on the night, and Joy Eslava, where you can dance your socks off. Be aware that the demand is high so if you are planning on going to one of the better known clubs, buying tickets in advance is advisable. Finish the night – or morning – with another Spanish tradition of churros for the first breakfast of the year. San Gines, which has been in business for 125 years, is Madrid’s most famous chocolate and churros shop, and it’s open 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.
As Samuel Johnson famously said, "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life." Only the most jaded visitor could fail to find London anything but exhilarating on New Year’s Eve. The Thames-side fireworks display is such a popular event that it’s ticketed, and unfortunately these have now sold out but there’s still another chance to get more if you sign up at the official website.
Other vantage points where you can see the fireworks for free include Primrose Hill, Hampstead Heath and Millennium Bridge. A perennially popular NYE activity is a boat ride on the Thames, with options of traditional boat trips with bubbly and music, speed boats and river cruises. Some of the exciting events taking place include a Creatures of the Night party at the Natural History Museum and a Viennese New Year’s Eve Gala with the Johann Strauss Orchestra at the Barbican. Start off 2020 on a joyous note with the annual London New Year’s Day Parade the next day.