It’s nearly Christmas! For me, though Christmas is important, having a “Happy New Year” is more so. After all the parties, family gatherings and shopping, what better way to kick back and relax than organise yourself a little holiday or city break before you go back to work. New Year’s Eve can be a spectacular evening, and spending it away from home really gives you permission to celebrate in style. Since we’ve had children, we’ve barely bothered celebrating the New Year, it seems rather pointless when we will still be woken at 5am! But this year, the boys are sleeping a bit longer and we’d like to reclaim our New Year’s Eve by hiring a lovely cottage so we can all be together! Here are ten places I have in mind:
Brugges, Belgium. This quaint city with its cobbled streets is perfect for New Year’s cheer. Try some lovely wheat beers, there are so many different kinds you will be overwhelmed (just ask!) and the food is amazing too. For children try a horse drawn New Years ride around the streets on a horse and carriage ride. There are also candlelit canal rides that navigate all around the city.
Normandy, France. A feast with a large group of friends in a Normandy gite would be a great way to bring in the new year. If you all have children, there’s no better way for them (and you) to enjoy themselves than being in a big group in a cosy farm house with a (safely guarded!) fire, calvados, pork in apple sauce, cheeses, you get the idea! After the big day, you can spend time exploring the coast line and taking in the war museums and memorabilia. When we go, we always take the car so we are free to explore, and stock up in the amazing French markets too!
Galway, Ireland. Yes it’s going to be cold, but isn’t everywhere? The breathtaking scenery of Galway cannot be underestimated, both the city and the county. Stay in a peat fired house with the snowy backdrop of Connemara, visit Cong, home of the famous film, “The Quiet Man” and see the famous pub from said film over in County Mayo! Most of all, take in the famous friendliness and hospitality of this stunning location, oh, and don’t forget to save your seat in the pub for New Year’s Eve! It’s bound to be very busy and popular wherever you go!
Paris, France. I had to include at least a couple of capital cities in my definitive list of New Year’s getaways! Saunter along the Seine, march along the Marais, you get my point! You could hire a lovely apartment in Paris, take the children to the famously child friendly restaurants, and enjoy the lively surroundings and wonderful food. In the day, take a trip to the Eiffel Tower or even Disneyland Paris if you’re feeling really flush! Most of all, don’t miss the Champs-Elysees on New Year’s Eve, everyone takes a bottle and waits for the action over at the Eiffel Tower which bursts into life at midnight. Join the street party and watch the lazers and fireworks overhead.
Madrid, Spain. Yes it’s another capital, but it’s a great one and there are so many cool things to do; though the main place to be on NYE has to be Puerta del Sol which is smack bang in the middle of the city. Whatever you do, don’t forget your grapes, as thousands of Spaniards will be popping a grape in their mouths for every “bong” of the clock as it hits twelve. Ideally you would have finished all twelve grapes before the bongs finish, though I’m not sure anyone ever does! Outside of the city itself, there are fabulous mountain ranges of Navacerrada which also offers skiing for the whole family to get involved in.
Soldeu, Andorra. Speaking of skiing, for a New Year’s Eve break that the whole family will enjoy, what’s better than a skiing break? You can cosy down in your chalet for those cold evenings safe in the knowledge that your little ones are going to be well and truly worn out by the evening, leaving you free to relax. Soldeu is a reasonably priced resort with great slopes, sharing its ski area with neighbouring Pas de la Casa and together they have 58 lifts. What better way to spend New Year’s Eve than popping a champagne cork while the kids are in bed, utterly exhausted…
Highlands of Scotland. Why not? Everyone thinks of Edinburgh or London for New Year’s Eve, why not try something different and venture somewhere a bit further afield? Hogmanay is something that really must be experienced in the outback, I favour Aviemore as this gives plenty of options in terms of either nightlife and (again) skiing (I have never been skiing in my life but after writing this I am considering it!). Choose a cosy pub with a roaring fire to celebrate the big day itself with a loved one, or a cosy cottage really getting away from it all and sampling some local whiskey at the same time. Every village has its own Hogmanay celebration which you will be welcomed to, the way things used to be!
Munich, Germany. Silvesterabend (NYE) makes the whole of Munich become more or less a party zone with restaurants offering rich five course meals and entertainment all over the city. For those with children, you can take part in the street parties and stay up for the amazing fireworks which can be found all over the city, though the best one can be found it the Old Town. Celebrate by drinking beer from the huge “steins” in the various and numerous beer gardens. I remember the last time I was there, I saw some people drinking beer at breakfast, apparently it’s not considered real alcohol!
Tuscany, Italy. An incredibly beautiful part of the world, no less so at wintry times of year. Florence has musical concerts hosted all over the city which children (and adults) will enjoy together. Head to the main piazza to celebrate with the locals with music and bonfires (a bit like a late Bonfire night!) and general cheer. Sienna has the fab Pizza del Campo which is famed for its New Year’s Eve celebrations as the main centre of Sienna for fabulous entertainment and general fun times!
Reykjavik, Iceland. Long dark nights means fun fun fun in Iceland’s capital for “Gamlarsdagur”. Each town has its own bonfire that children will love where the whole community gets together to watch fabulous fireworks. After midnight, the party really begins (for those with the energy) as nightclubs and bars come to life with singing and dancing that goes on until the morning. In the icy mornings following New Year’s Eve, how about trying a geothermal spa which are supposed to have healing and health giving properties. If you’re lucky, you might get a shot at seeing the amazing Northern Lights, what an amazing way to see in the New Year with your friends and family!
Lots of ideas here, whatever you do, have a Happy New Year!
Heather is a seasoned traveller who also happens to be a mummy to two young children. She loves North Yorkshire, Pembrokeshire and Normandy cheeses. Visit her blog to find out more over at pret-a-mummy.com.