8 awesome and unexpected places to see in the New Year

If you’re tempted by a last-minute New Year’s Eve getaway this season, we’ve rounded up a few places you may not have considered, all of them welcoming in the New Year in style. Read about both traditional and modern ways to celebrate the end of 2019 and start of 2020 in our atmospheric locations all over Europe, and browse our delightful holiday rental suggestions in each destination.

Join in the revelry in Reykjavík, Iceland

Blazing bonfires and fizzing fireworks—the “land of fire and ice” has a suitably elemental approach to its New Year celebrations. With only five hours of daylight at this time of year (about noon to 5 p.m.), light and warmth are key—as is the symbolic act of burning away the year’s problems. For an overview of displays in the country’s capital (most of them private), stake a spot at the landmark domed Perlan on Öskjuhlíð hill, with its observation deck and revolving restaurant hosting festive buffets. Alternatively, join locals by Landakotskirkja (Landakot’s Church) on Landakot hill, popping firecrackers and champagne corks as the fireworks explode all around.


Marvel in the mountains at Kitzbühel, Austria

Ski by day and party by night in this gorgeous medieval town about 90 km east of Innsbruck in the Tirol region. The resort’s many fantastic restaurants host lavish gala dinners for New Year’s Eve, but the real action takes place on 1 January—follow thousands of locals to the base of the Hahnenkamm slopes to glug Glühwein and sing raucously in the buildup to a spectacular New Year’s Day show put on by the local ski schools, involving torchlit skiing and gasp-inducing fire-jumping, followed by fireworks.


Dance by the lake in Tignes, French Alps

New Year’s Eve parties in this lively ski resort in the world-famous Paradiski ski area in the Savoie region of France are legendary—the sparkling lakefront hosts Europe’s highest outdoor dance floor, surrounded by twinkling mountain peaks. Thousands of revellers dance the night away in their moonboots, stopping only to watch the giant fireworks display as the clock chimes midnight. The event kicks off at 11 p.m.; many of the resort’s restaurants host special menus—vital for keeping your energy levels up—and there are parties galore in local bars.


Get into the groove in Gdańsk, Poland

Start your New Year’s Eve celebrations with a hearty meal and drinks in some of this characterful Baltic port-city’s tempting restaurants and bars. Then make a beeline for the central focal points of Długi Targ (“Long Market”) and Targ Węglowy (“Coal Market”) with their illuminated trees, to join locals in a street party beside the 17th-century Neptune fountain. Expect rock music, a fireworks display, and a New Year countdown accompanied by the popping of champagne corks; locals also set off their own fireworks.


Party hard in Porto, Portugal

Of the many parties that take over this charming coastal city best known for its wine, the biggest and brightest takes place on the stately boulevard of the Avenida dos Aliados, with thousands of visitors and locals gathering to enjoy music and fireworks in front of the splendid city hall with its bell-tower and carillon clock. Alternatively, hop aboard one of the cruisers plying the Douro river for a gala dinner accompanied by great views of the fireworks. And if you’ve still got the energy, there’s dancing till dawn in Porto’s trendy nightclubs.


Be a culture vulture in Venice, Italy

There are few more fairytale settings for New Year’s Eve than the iconic lagoon city. And celebrations don’t come any more atmospheric than the New Year’s Concert at the glorious Teatro La Fenice opera house—running nightly from 29 December to 1 January and conducted by Fabio Luisi, it features Beethoven, Verdi, Britten, Bellini, and Donizetti. Otherwise, locals traditionally enjoy a New Year dinner of cotechino or zampone con lenticchie (spicy pork sausage or pig’s trotter with lentils—said to bring good luck for the coming year) before gathering for the New Year countdown in Piazza San Marco. If you really want to live like a local, make sure to wear red underwear for the occasion …


Sparkle in Stockholm, Sweden

One of the highlights of the year-end in the Swedish capital takes place at Skansen Open-Air Museum, where a ticketed event combines a reading of British poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “Ring out, wild bells”, music, singing, the chiming of bells, and fireworks (with live broadcast watched by people around the nation). Alternatively, folks gather by the Stadshuset or City Hall with its golden crowns to watch fireworks, go up on Fjällgatan hill for an overview of the displays, or stroll along the lakeside Monteliusvägen. For New Year’s Eve feasts and parties, head for Södermalmstorg with its hip restaurants and bars.


End the year in style in Edinburgh, Scotland

Nowhere does New Year’s Eve quite like the Scottish capital with its famous three-day winter festival, Hogmanay. From 30 December to 1 January, expect all manner of fun and frolics, including a torchlit procession, a vast street party, concerts, a ceilidh with Scottish music and dancing, and even a New Year’s Day fancy-dress swim in the “Loony Dook” in the River Forth. (Participants get a free bowl of porridge!) New Year’s Eve sees no less than four music stages and four fireworks displays against the backdrop of the iconic Edinburgh Castle, the latter on the hour from 9 p.m.