Since heading to New York last year, I have decided it will be an annual tradition to go away for New Year’s. This year the destination of choice was the trendy german capital, Berlin.
Known as one of Europe’s party hotspots, there is plenty of choice for how to spend the new year with everything from massive night’s in the top clubs, a family orientated celebration in one of Berlin’s castles or the legendary street party that takes place at Brandenburger Tor (Brandenberg Gate), which is the option we went for!
Along a 2km stretch, all the way from the Brandenburger Tor to the Siegessäule (Victory Column) over 2 million people come out for the countdown to midnight. As well as the traditional impressive display of fireworks you would expect to see when the clock strikes 12, from around 7pm there are also a selection of artists performing and from 9.45pm the party is broadcast live on the official german TV channel, ZDF – this year we were treated to Jermaine Jackson and The Vengaboys!
One thing I really liked about this over other big public New Year’s displays was that all the way along the stretch there were food and drink stalls, which made standing out in the cold for a few hours much more enjoyable! People from all over the world come together to join the party and it’s a great chance to mingle with a whole host of nationalities and find out what brought them to spend New Year’s Eve in Berlin.
For anyone considering heading to the Brandenburger Tor celebrations next year, I have put together some top tips for how to make the most of the night…
1) Time it Right
I always find it tough to get the timing right with these kind of things. Get there too early and you will be pretty bored of standing in the cold by midnight, but get there too late and you’ll be right at the back of the crowd. We arrived at about 6.30/7pm and that was about right – we could still walk near enough to be within clear viewing distance of the stage and the fireworks and we didn’t get frost bite by the end!
2) Pick your spot
Pack mentality will tell you to get as close to the front as you can, but there is usually a much better view – and you will be far less squashed, if you keep back a little bit. We found a spot right next to one of the bars about 200m away from the stage. This was ideal because we were out of the crowd slightly, had a table to keep our drinks on and easy access to a constant supply of mulled wine! What’s New Years Eve in Berlin without mulled wine!?
3) Pack light
Security at any of these kinds of events is tight and after the tragic terrorism attack that struck the Breitscheidplatz market in December, the german authorities had really stepped it up. We had to go through five different search points, but luckily as neither of us had bags this didn’t take too long. There is also always the risk of pick pocketing so the less you can carry the better. All you really need is your phone, a camera if you want and some money – but leave any big rucksacks at home.
4) Layer Up
It might sound obvious but standing in the Berlin air for five hours in December will be cold (no matter how much mulled wine you consume). Whack on your hat, scarf, gloves and plenty of layers and you will have a much better time than standing there freezing your butt off.
Have you ever spent New Year’s Eve in Berlin? Have you ever been to one of the big public displays? Where did you spend New Year’s?