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Alternative City Breaks for an Amazing New Year’s Eve in Europe

Alternative New Year's Eve city breaks in Europe © Aleksandr Popov / Unsplash

Out with the old, in with the new, as 2023 is edging to a close and in its place will come a newer, shinier, more optimistic and a more inviting year by the name of 2024. What will the new year hold? Will we stick to our New Year’s Resolutions this year? Probably not, but there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of ambition.

There is the small matter of New Year’s Eve to get out of the way first of course. Many will be looking to get away from home for the big night, and the traditional party centres of London, Paris, Prague and Belgrade will likely be jam-packed with people paying over the odds for drinks and queuing far too long for toilets. Looking for an alternative getaway for the final night of 2023? You’d be wise to consider one of the following.

Liverpool, England

New Year’s Eve in Liverpool, England © Flickr, Dave Johnson, CC2.0

In truth, every night is a party in Liverpool. There are many contenders for the prestigious title of Best Night Out in the North of England, but we’re giving the crown to Liverpool ahead of worthy contenders like Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle. Three years of loyal service in the trenches of Bar CaVa will do that. Liverpool’s reputation as a musical city is earned on New Year’s Eve, with a range of concerts across the city covering everything from traditional pop hits to avant-garde jazz and beyond. The streets are alive with, well, the sound of young people shouting at each other, mostly, but you won’t find a better night out in England than Liverpool. Just be careful with the tequila in CaVa, please. 

Šibenik, Croatia

Some natural fireworks over Šibenik, Croatia © Šime Barešić, CC2.0

Šibenik doesn’t get the attention afforded to Split, Dubrovnik, Zadar and other spots on Croatia’s Dalmatian coast, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The city is as gorgeous as those mentioned above, and it is easy to fall in love with its roster of restaurants, cafes, hotels, churches and secrets. New Year’s Eve this year will be a stormer, with Parov Stelar and Stereo MCs headlining 321Fest, a three-day musical extravaganza that counts down to the end of 2023. Šibenik is an excellent base for exploring the coast and its many islands, but the December 31 focus is all about the town itself.

Kyrenia, Cyprus

The old port is the place to be to ring in the New Year in Kyrenia © Ulrich Kersting, Flickr, CC2.0

North Cyprus is fast becoming one of the most exciting destinations around the world, with its delightful range of beaches, history, heritage, and delectable cuisine gaining new fans every single year. Gracefully placed on the island’s tip, Kyrenia is a tremendous option for ringing in the new year, as much because of its serenity as the parties. Sure, the latter run from late at night until shepherd’s delight, but the real pull here is waking up in the morning and strolling along the sea from beach to beach. You might even encounter some baby turtles along the way, although don’t interfere with their crucial first steps. Do turtles step? Whatever, just don’t get involved. Take some photos, learn about turtle conservation, and head back to town for grilled meat and magic.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Festive December in Ljubljana, Slovenia © Helena Volpi / Pixabay

New Year’s Eve in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, is a truly magical experience. The city transforms into a festive wonderland, with the streets aglow with twinkling lights and the air brimming with joyful anticipation. The evening is often punctuated by exciting events like live concerts, captivating fireworks, and outdoor parties, creating an electrifying atmosphere that keeps the spirit of celebration alive till the early hours of the new year. The city’s charming architecture, dusted with snow, serves as the perfect backdrop for this enchanting New Year’s spectacle.

Zurich, Switzerland

Christmas in Zurich, Switzerland © Susan Oh / Pixabay

New Year’s Eve in Zurich is another captivating way to ring in the new year. The city, nestled amidst snow-capped mountains and sprawling by the serene Lake Zurich, bursts with euphoria as the year draws to a close. Spectators are treated to a mesmerising fireworks display, launched from boats on the lake, painting the night sky with a riot of colours. Streets come alive with festive markets, live music, and the cheerful clinking of glasses, as residents and visitors alike indulge in Swiss culinary delights. The city’s iconic landmarks, illuminated against the dark winter sky, add to the magical ambience, making Zurich’s New Year’s Eve an unforgettable celebration.

Porto, Portugal

New Year’s in Porto © Stefano Aguiar CC1.0

Drenched in tradition and charm, the new year festivities in Porto are an experience not soon forgotten. The vibrant city ushers in the new year with a hearty spirit of celebration, evidenced by the influx of locals and tourists congregating in Avenida dos Aliados, the city’s main avenue. Here, a spectacular fireworks display fills the starlit sky as the clock strikes midnight, reflecting over the Douro River and creating an unforgettable tableau. The air is filled with the scent of roasted chestnuts, a traditional winter treat, and the sound of laughter and cheer. Throughout the evening, traditional Portuguese music leaks from the city’s historic buildings, inviting everyone to dance and revel in the festivities.

Skopje, North Macedonia

Macedonia Square Skopje © Mike Norton / Flickr, CC2.0

As with most everything it does these days, Skopje, North Macedonia presents a delightful blend of tradition and modernity when it comes its new year celebrations. As the final hours of the year slip away, the city’s main square, pulsing with energy, is awash with an intoxicating mélange of melodious folk music and contemporary beats. Dazzling fireworks bloom in the night sky, their fiery hues mirrored in the Vardar River, creating a spectacle that leaves spectators enchanted. Amid the celebratory fervour, food stalls serve a smorgasbord of traditional Macedonian food, filling the crisp winter air with inviting aromas. The city’s historical and modern architecture, bathed in festive lights, adds a unique charm to the night, making New Year’s Eve in Skopje a fusion of past and present, wrapped in an unforgettable revelry.

Aarhus, Denmark


New Year’s Eve in Aarhus is a heartfelt ode to Danish hygge and community spirit. The cityscape, adorned with fairy lights, emanates a cosy glow, providing a welcoming canvas for the evening’s festivities. As the final hours of the year tick down, the city centre thrums with a palpable excitement, amplified by the cheerful chatter of locals and tourists alike. Traditional Danish music wafts from the charming cafés and restaurants, while food stalls tempt passers-by with the enticing aromas of gløgg and æbleskiver. As the clock strikes midnight, a vibrant fireworks display illuminates the night sky, the colourful bursts reflected in the tranquil waters of Aarhus Bay. The city’s historic landmarks, including the iconic ARoS Aarhus Art Museum, provide a stunning backdrop to this enchanting spectacle.

Brno, Czechia

Fireworks over Brno, Czechia © Gabriela Fab / Flickr, CC2.0

New Year’s Eve in Brno is a festive affair steeped in tradition and modern enjoyment. As the old year gives way to the new, the city’s stunning squares and narrow streets come alive with jubilant crowds, excited chatter, and an irresistible air of anticipation. A stunning fireworks display, launched from Špilberk Castle, paints the winter sky with vibrant colours, providing a breathtaking spectacle for locals and visitors gathered below. Street vendors serve warm, comforting Czech fare, and the merry clinking of glasses echoes through the streets as people toast with traditional Czech beers and Moravian wines. The city’s historic landmarks, beautifully lit against the night sky, add a sense of grandeur to the proceedings.

Bilbao, Spain

Fireworks over Bilbao Spain © JM Cabado / Flickr, CC2.0

New Year’s Eve in Bilbao, Spain, is a spectacle where rich Basque traditions meet modern celebrations. As the year winds down, the city, nestled between rolling green hills and the Nervión River, takes on a festive aura. The city centre, especially around the Guggenheim Museum, becomes a hub of celebratory activity, with tens of thousands of people gathering to bid goodbye to the old year and welcome the new. As the clock strikes midnight, an enchanting fireworks display lights up the sky, illuminating the avant-garde architecture of Bilbao, and casting dancing reflections in the river. The festivities don’t end with the fireworks; the city comes alive with music, dancing, and traditional Basque folk performances that continue into the wee hours. Amidst the celebrations, the smell of pintxos from local bars and the taste of the traditional Basque sparkling wine, txakoli, make the experience gastronomically delightful.

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