New Year’s Eve doesn’t have to mean kissing a spotty drunk in your local. Emma Gawen explores the alternatives
If you’re anything like me, you will be looking to this New Year’s Eve with a feeling of dread rather than excitement. Last year I spent the evening rather thrillingly in my local Wetherspoons, which I think justifies my unenthusiastic attitude toward this annual event. This year though, I will be ignoring the cries of local environmental activist Rose Rickford and jetting off somewhere exciting to see the New Year in.
A discerning attitude towards your airline, combined with any kind of concern for air pollution, will get you nowhere
To get the most out of New Year travel you need to embrace budget airlines, not be over-bothered about where you sleep and be flexible. Flights to Prague too expensive? No problem. Just look for somewhere else to go.
The beauty of spending New Year abroad is that once you get there, you don’t necessarily have to spend lots of money to have a good time. You can save money on taxis by staying at a hostel in the centre of town, and alcohol is cheaper too. Add to this the excitement of being in a new place and you won’t have any trouble having a good night. You can even stay in your city of choice for a few days afterwards and soak up the culture. Again, this doesn’t have to be expensive: you can sample a city for free if you do your research and avoid museum admission fees. What better way to bring in the New Year?
Rome is a place of excess: beautiful and passionate people, a wealth of architectural wonders and an incredible cultural heritage. With the short time available you could attempt to see a bit of everything, but I would suggest you pick your poison: churches and cathedrals, the Vatican City, art galleries, roman wonders, or even some kind of Dan Brown quest. However, even better is to think like an Italian: kick back, relax and enjoy fantastic food and wine in beautiful surroundings. Any self-respecting Italian would spend at least three hours over a decent meal, so be prepared to do some serious relaxation. Avoid the main tourist areas for eating, as you may well end up with an over-priced pizza. Seek out a traditional trattoria for good value and delicious food – the translation troubles will be well worth while. Or if that’s out of your budget, go into a local supermarket and buy some bread, mozzarella and salami, then eat in style at your chosen viewpoint, all for roughly £2.
Must Sees: The Colosseum, the Trevi fountain and St Peters Basilica.
Nightlife and New Year’s Eve: The popular option on New Year’s Eve is the Piazza del Popolo, with the usual crowds, music and fireworks. There’s also a concert of classical music on the square in front of the Presidential Palace, the Quirinale. For nightlife head to Monte Testacchio. Be warned: Italians are known for their style for a reason, so dress smartly. Think of it as an opportunity to dress up a bit more than you would for Ziggy’s.
Getting There: Travel from December 30 until January 4 could cost you as little as £45 with Ryanair. Try staying in the hostels in the centre of town for New Year’s Eve and then moving further out to more budget options for the rest of your stay.
Berlin is a thoroughly modern city with a reputation for buzzing nightlife and fantastic culture. It is also a very old European capital with a chequered past. The city’s charm lies in this juxtaposition of the past – with its Prussian statues and harsh communist facades – and the present, a vibrant and exciting example of modern urban development and architecture. Be sure to visit the last remaining parts of the Berlin Wall, whilst historians should take the time to visit Checkpoint Charlie or the Jewish Museum. To sample the more modern delights of Berlin, visit the Reichstag Dome and Potsdamer Platz, home to high-rise offices, shops and restaurants. For a truly budget visit, just wander where your legs take you, as this is one of the best cities to simply explore and absorb.
Must Sees: The Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate and the Communist television tower in Alexanderplatz
Nightlife and New Year’s Eve: Berlin plays host to the world’s largest open air New Year’s Eve party. The Silvester celebration is held along Strasse des 17 Juni, and is a massive street party stretching 2km from the Brandenburg Gate to the Victory Column, with food stands, beer tents, live music, DJs and a spectacular fireworks display at midnight. The party goes on all through the night, and is a loud, colourful event: last year over a million people partied into the early morning. Best of all, it’s completely free. Make sure you get there early as it’s incredibly popular. To find out more visit www.silvester-berlin.de or pick up Exberliner for the very latest bar, club and restaurant reviews.
Getting There: Travelling from the 30th until the 4th could cost you around £90 with Ryanair. Book accommodation as soon as possible for the best deals.
Barcelona is the city of Gaudí, and if you visit here your first stop should be La Sagrada Familia, his awe-inspiring fantasy cathedral. Construction started 100 years ago and continues today. But there is much more to Barcelona that Gaudí. It’s a busy, noisy, dynamic city, buzzing with enthusiasm and a passion for the good things in life. Barcelona is not a city for museums, so try taking a walking tour. Make sure you visit the Gothic quarter and lose track of time in the maze of small streets and alleyways, stopping at a small tapas bar for lunch. If you want something more mainstream, try Las Ramblas, a busy boulevard that has enough shops, cafes and restaurants to keep you occupied all day. The beach is also the perfect (and free) place to drink and rest after a long day.
Must Sees: La Sagrada Família, L’Aquarium, and the Picasso Museum, which houses over 3500 works of art.
Nightlife and New Year’s Eve: There are no big publically-organised New Year’s Eve celebrations in Barcelona, but this doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time. To welcome in the new year in true Spanish style, spend the evening eating good food, drinking cheap wine and soaking up the ambiance. The party doesn’t get started until much later than in England, when the crowds gather in the bars and clubs of Las Ramblas.
Getting There: Travel from the 31st until the 5th for just £45 with Easyjet.
If you have exams or dissertations, or are simply really short of cash this holiday, you may just end up back in York. All is not lost, however. York is one of the premier tourist cities in England, and there’s plenty to see and do. Try taking a walk around the City Walls, or visiting the Minster Gardens. If you haven’t yet visited Betty’s, stop in for a cup of tea before you head home. The easy option for New Year’s Eve is to have a house party. It’s cheap, it’s fun, and it’s the one time of year when your neighbours aren’t going to complain about the noise. If you don’t fancy the post-party clean-up, there are plenty of options in the city too. Lots of bars are running special events, and to end the night in style, take some champagne/cheap alcohol and join the crowds waiting by the Minster to see in the New Year.
Must sees: Central Hall at dawn, the physics block.
New Years Eve Events: There’s a Black and White Ball at the Gallery and most likely an event at Toffs. The alternative option is a Rock ‘n’ Roll New Year’s Eve at Fibbers. Tickets are £10 on the door.
Getting there: Walk out your front door, or get the FTR for £2.50 return.
For the ultimate New Year’s Eve experience head to Edinburgh’s Hogamanay festival. If you’re lucky, you’ll know someone whose floor you can crash on. If not, with beds going for over £50 a night it may not be possible to sample the full four day festival. However, if you want to have an epic New Year’s Eve and feel happy sleeping in train stations, there’s a train back to York at 8am on New Year’s Day. The city will be packed with visitors enjoying a party atmosphere, so find yourself a bar, soak up the ambiance and then head out at midnight to see the 7 Hills Fireworks. There are launch sites across the city including the castle, and can be seen for miles around, so stumble out of the pub at midnight and you’ll be sure to catch site of them.
Must sees: Edinburgh castle, the Royal Mile.
New Years Eve Events: Buy tickets quick for the ultimate street party. The Royal Bank Street Party hosts 3 stages: An indie stage (featuring the Fratellis), a folk stage, and a cheesy pop stage which will surely be the favourite of any self-respecting York student. Tickets cost £5. Live acts from 10pm-1am.
Getting There: A standard return fare with a travel card costs £43.90, but if you book in advance you could get there and back for £25.