I really want to celebrate New Year’s eve with a bang this year, where would you recommend I go to see in 2011?
Travelling over New Year can be a lot of fun – cities across the world put on a real show to mark the turn of a New Year, be it fireworks, dancing in the street or restaurants and bars that stay open through the night.
A couple of tips though before you book your trip: try to travel a few days either side of the New Year to save money – this year the 31st falls on a Friday, which will make long weekends really popular.
I’d advise trying to fly on the Wednesday or Thursday to save money, and return on the Tuesday or Wednesday the following week.
Additionally, when you’re making plans for how to spend your time, don’t plan too much for New Year’s Day before checking up, because galleries, museums and even restaurants may well be closed for the day. It’s the perfect time to take a walk in a city park, or day trip out of a city to explore the nearby countryside. Chances are, you’ll need some fresh air to clear your head after the night before!
One of the most famous New Year celebrations in the world is in Edinburgh, and as it’s less than an hour’s flight from many UK cities, you could even hop on a plane after work on Friday and be there in time for the party.
There’s a vast street party along Princes Street, and don’t miss the atmospheric torchlit procession along the Royal Mile, which finishes at the fireworks and light show on Calton Hill. There’s also The Keilidh, an outdoor ceilidh, (traditional Scottish dancing party) close to Princes Street, where you’ll get food, drink and dancing instruction for £30, and there’s a film festival to celebrate films set in Edinburgh, or made by its residents.
Be aware that to join the street party you’ll need a ticket. They cost from £10 and are on sale at EdinburghFestivals.co.uk, which also sells tickets for The Keilidh and other events around New Year.
One of this year’s hottest tickets is the Prestonfield Hogmany Ball, at the gorgeous boutique hotel, Prestonfield House. Tickets cost £95 per person and tables are for ten people. The ticket includes a four-course meal of Scottish-inspired food including Arbroath smokies, Scotch broth, heather honey and whisky pudding. If you want to stay overnight, rooms at the hotel are currently on sale for £330 a night including breakfast and Champagne on arrival.
The party doesn’t end at midnight – the following day there are a host of New Year’s Day activities, including the One O’Clock Run, the Loony Dook river race, and on January 2, a rugby local derby between Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors. Find flights to Edinburgh here.
If you fancy going a bit further afield, I’d suggest joining the party in Rome. The crowds flock to Piazza del Popolo, which hosts a huge free rock and classical music concert and fireworks.
Naturally, it’s packed, but a lot of fun. If that sounds too hectic, head up to the Terrazza del Pincio, an open-air terrace overlooking the square, where it should be a little quieter.
If you want to curry favour with the locals, order a ‘Sogni romani’ cocktail, a potent concoction of orange juice with four kinds of liqueur in red and yellow stripes, the colours of the city and the Roma football team. The best place to order it is the art-nouveau Bar Rosati in Piazza del Popolo. It’s got a wonderful history of hosting such Italian intellects as Calvino and Pasolini and has barely changed since it opened in 1922.
Regardless of your faith, I’d also recommend peeking into one of the city’s beautiful churches to see midnight mass on 31st. They are sure to put on a show for the New Year and the architecture looks all the more impressive in candlelight. You could even join Holy Mass at the Vatican on January 1. It’s quite a sight to see the huge square filled with people being addressed by the Pope.
If you want somewhere really special to stay, look up the Portrait Suites on Via Condotti. They’re owned by the fashion dynasty, the Ferragamo family, and are naturally sited among the city’s smartest designer shops. There are 14 suites and studios, all in stunning décor, with a roof terrace, for unparalleled views of the party below – it comes at a cost though – from 585 euros a night over Christmas and New Year.
If you want somewhere a bit cheaper, the Daphne Inn is just as central, in the Trevi area, close to the fountain and the Spanish Steps, and costs from 150 euros during peak season. It’s chic and friendly with ensuite bathrooms, internet and a cracking breakfast spread to set you up for the day. Find flights to Rome.
Finally, where else can you head for an all-night party to welcome in 2011?
How about some warmth and party spirit in Cape Town, where you can join one of the many restaurant, bar and hotel parties at Camps Bay, or you can see in the year from the top of Table Mountain.
The last cable car leaves the city at 11pm and returns at 1am. It costs less than £5 a ticket and you’ll need to take your own champagne picnic to enjoy at the top as the summit café closes at 9pm.
The Cape Heritage Hotel is a great place to stay on the edge of Bo-Kaap area and occupies a historic building in downtown that has been lovingly restored. The rooms have different themes from around the world and you’ll take breakfast in the outdoor courtyard. There’s plenty of fashionable shops, restaurants, and art galleries nearby, which will host their own parties if Camps Bay is a little too lively. Rooms start from £225. Find flights to Cape Town
Answer by Ginny Light – TimesOnline travel editor
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