The Best Places in Europe for New Year's Eve
From London to Madrid, here's where to see in the new year in Europe.
Happy New Year, everyone! The end of the old year and the start of the new is one of our favourite times of the calendar, bringing with it a chance to reflect, refresh and celebrate. What better time to take a trip to Europe? They say that the way you spend your New Year’s Eve will determine how the rest of your year goes, so it’s important to make sure you’re staying in a place that you love and doing activities that bring you joy. All of the countries in Europe have their own traditions for this time of year, all you need to do is choose the luxurious Plum Guide property you want to stay in and we’ll do the rest. Here’s our guide to the best places in Europe for New Year's.
London is where cool people go for New Year’s Eve – and we know that you’re cool. The city of London puts on a huge fireworks display every year, centred on the South Bank over the London Eye. Themed and set to music, it’s a night of festive fun. There are many other fireworks displays happening throughout the whole of the city, so there’s sure to be one near you. Another Londoner’s secret is to head to Parliament Hill on Hampstead Heath close to midnight and enjoy the panoramic view of fireworks exploding over the city skyline.
On New Year’s Day, there’s a parade which wends its way through central London, which has been running for more than 30 years. 8,500 performers from more than 20 countries strut their stuff, including marching bands, acrobats, cheerleaders and clowns. If your little ones couldn’t quite make it until midnight (and if you too fell asleep before the clock struck twelve, come to that) this is a great way to continue the celebrations.
Berlin is famous for its parties all year round, so it makes sense that it’s one of the best places in Europe for New Year's. Around a million visitors flock to the city every year to celebrate the start of a new year. The party happens at Brandenburg Gate in the middle of Berlin. As well as the traditional fireworks, there’s more than two kilometres of the city packed with stages hosting shows, light and laser shows and plenty of stalls selling delicious food and plenty of drinks to make you merry.
Berlin is known for its 24 hour parties, so once midnight has arrived it’s just the start of the night. The fun lasts until the sun comes up, with live DJs providing the entertainment. You might want to leave your heels at home for this one – partying this hard requires comfortable footwear.
Think beyond New Year’s Eve and what do you get? Hogmanay. If you think that the rest of the world celebrates the end of the old year and the start of the new, you’ve never been in Scotland at the end of December. Things here get underway on the 30th of the month with an eye catching Torchlight Procession through the heart of the city, where thousands of torch carriers create a walking river of fire all the way down the Royal Mile.
The next evening, the action moves to Princes Street with a beautiful backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. You can expect to party with around 80,000 others who’ll be screaming the countdown to midnight. Just make sure you’ve boned up on the words to Auld Lang Syne before you arrive, because mumbling the lyrics will not be tolerated by the Scots around you. Expect fireworks, headline bands, DJs and outdoor bars. The next morning you could even follow the tradition of taking a very chilly dip in the waters of Firth of Forth at South Queensferry, to start the year off right.
Madrid has all of the usual fireworks and fun of the other destinations we've listed as the best places in Europe for New Year's, but it also has a tradition which sets it apart from the crowds. There’s a unique tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight, one for each month of the year, as the clock strikes 12. Locals believe this will bring them good luck and good fortune for the year ahead. They also wear red underwear on this day to bring them luck, so be sure to pack accordingly.
On New Year’s Eve, head to the Puerta del Sol with your grapes in hand to ensure prosperity, and once you’ve swallowed them you can get to partying at one of Madrid’s many lively bars, pubs and discotecas. Once you’ve had your fill of the dancefloor, it’s also a Spanish tradition to end a night out by eating churros with melted chocolate – now that’s a tradition we can really get behind.