Ringing in the new year in Europe

Ringing in the new year in Europe

by Genevieve Northup
Stripes Europe

5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1 … Happy New Year!

New York City’s Time Square isn’t the only big party to celebrate 2019. The Europeans are no strangers to celebrating the end of another year and a fresh start.


This city’s reputation as “party central” is confirmed each New Year’s Eve. Oudjaarsavond, or Old Year’s Evening, is celebrated throughout the city. Clubs, bars and restaurants host parties, often with themes and special menus. Advance tickets are usually required, so plan ahead.

The heart of the city’s celebration is a free fest at Museumplein, featuring live music and fireworks. Other popular parties will commence on Nieuwmarkt, Leidsplein and Rembrandtplein. Watch the fireworks display over the Amstel River from Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge). For more information about New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam, visit iAmsterdam.


For a wacky start to your new year’s festivities, called “Silvester” in Germany, run in an outlandish costume at the Pancake Race (Der Pfannekuchenlauf). You’re likely to race neck-and-neck with gorillas, Santa Claus and fairies, and the winner is the participant donning the best costume. At the finish line, you’ll receive a Berliner Pfannekuchen, the local jelly-filled doughnut.

The Brandenburg Gate is the pinnacle of one of the world’s largest New Year’s Eve celebrations. Three stages will feature musical performances beginning early in the evening, and you’ll find a variety of bars and food stands along Party Mile. And, of course, there will be fireworks.

Berlin’s Silvester celebration is a free event.


The Scots call New Year’s celebrations “Hogmanay,” but to tell you why is a convoluted story. The term’s history is a bit fuzzy after a few hundred years of partying. All you need to know is that a trip to Hogmanay should be on your shortlist of things to do while in Europe.

Hogmanay will kick off with the annual Torchlight Procession from Parliament Square on Dec. 30. Thousands of revelers with torches, led by a crew of Vikings and Scottish highlanders, will march from St. Giles’ Cathedral to Calton Hill, creating a river of flames. Later in the evening, the Son et Lumière light and fireworks display will illuminate the monuments of Calton Hill and the sky above Edinburgh. The procession and firework display are free for spectators; tickets are required to carry torches.

On New Year’s Eve, classical music will be performed at St. Giles’ Cathedral at 7:30 p.m. The main event, the Street Party, will rock on from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. with bands, outdoor bars and fireworks. Within the Street Party are two other events: The Concert in the Gardens and the Keilidh, a traditional party with Scottish music, food and dancing.

Separate tickets are required for each Hogmanay event.

More Ways to Celebrate

Nearly every major city in Europe has a grand New Year’s Eve celebration, and almost anywhere you go in Germany, you’ll find a good fireworks show. Spectacular fireworks are easy to buy, and nearly every household has a mini display. So if you don’t like crowds, have a few friends over, drink champagne and look outside as the clock strikes midnight.

No matter where you choose to celebrate, have fun, be safe and spend time with those you love, or party with total strangers! Make plans, ponder possible New Year’s resolutions and let the countdown begin.

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