Europes Family Friendly New Years Eve Destinations
New Year’s Eve in Berlin
This top shopping destination has plenty of family-orientated attractions by day, such as the Tiergarten Zoo, the play area at Kollwitz Platz and the multicoloured Legoland at Potsdamer Platz. On New Year’s Eve the Brandenburg Gate is the main attraction where around half a million revellers gather. This landmark structure always looks pretty when lit up at night and it makes a perfect focal point for one of the biggest open-air parties in Europe. There is music, stages, dance floors, lasers, food tents and DJs entertaining the crowds before the official countdown. On the stroke of midnight everyone greets each other with the words Guten Rutsch! which means “Good beginnings!”
In Germany, New Year’s Eve is known as Silvester, named after the 4th century Pope Sylvester I, whose feast day is December 31st. The evening is celebrated with fireworks, champagne and plenty of noise from drums, whips, firecrackers and kitchen utensils to drive away evil winter spirits. Those staying by the fire to celebrate Silvester will probably be eating jam doughnuts and watching a re-run of the British comedy sketch Dinner for One, starring May Warden and Freddie Frinton. This unlikely comedy holds the Guinness Record as the most repeated TV show in history and is an annual German tradition.
New Year’s Eve in Paris
If you are lucky enough to be in Paris for New Year’s Eve there are a host of places to celebrate. Enjoy a delightful family evening meal, head for a nightclub or join the many groups dotted around the parks and landmarks of this City of Light. The French send as many New Year cards as they do Christmas cards, and the tradition extends throughout the month of January. As France is the home of champagne, most parties toast in the New Year with champagne or sparkling wine.
A special treat to look out for are papillottes - chocolates and sweets that pop like firecrackers when you tear off the wrapping. Fireworks are legal on the streets of Paris so there are plenty of small celebrations around the city. If you want to be part of a big crowd at midnight, head to the Champs-Elysees and line up with a good view of the Eiffel Tower which explodes with light at midnight. Everyone exchanges kisses and wishes each other Bonne Année, and the champagne corks fly! Another great place to view the city’s fireworks is from the Sacré Coeur, the highest point of the city, before returning to your holiday rental apartment to continue the celebrations.
New Year’s Eve in Edinburgh
Few places party harder than Scotland at Hogmanay. The classy city of Edinburgh is a traditional place to celebrate with torchlight processions, concerts, family street parties, live entertainment and Fire Festivals including bonfires, a tradition that dates back to Viking times. In preparation for Hogmanay, houses are cleaned from top to bottom. On the stroke of midnight, strangers join hands and sing Robbie Burns’ song Auld Lang Syne before enjoying fireworks.
Just after midnight, neighbours visit each other in a tradition known as “First Footing”. If the first visitor over the threshold is a tall dark man, it is said to bring a year of good luck, especially if he is carrying a lump of coal!
New Year’s Eve in Italy
Families choosing holiday rentals in Italy for the New Year celebrations will find that food is an important part of La Festa di San Silvestro. Dishes made of lentils symbolise money and good fortune in the forthcoming year. Spicy sausages and stuffed trotters (zampone) are part of the rich feast. Most towns have public firework displays with plenty more private parties lighting up the night sky. Expect ships to blow their horns, villages to light bonfires and live bands to entertain young and old with plenty of dancing on the streets.
A traditional New Year’s Eve game is played called Tombola, similar to bingo. Red underwear should be worn for luck, old things are thrown out of the window (so keep a wary eye open!) and everyone toasts the New Year with sparkling spumante.
Happy New Year, Bonne Année and Guten Rutsch to you all!