If you’re looking for a way to bring in the New Year with a bang, plan a trip to one of Europe’s hottest cities this year. Both London and Paris have a spectacular line-up of festivities to make your New Year’s Eve one to remember. Here’s what each city has to offer:
The year 2012 has been one to remember in London thanks to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the city’s New Year’s Eve celebrations seem to indicate that it won’t be slowing down anytime soon. Plan to arrive in London a few days before New Year’s Eve to do your city sightseeing and take advantage of the special winter-themed activities scattered around the city—the ice skating rinks at Canary Wharf or Hampton Court Palace, and the Winter Wonderland attraction at Hyde Park, which features Christmas markets, an ice rink, two circuses, and a Magical Ice Kingdom experience.
The fireworks display on New Year’s Eve takes place at the EDF Energy London Eye, with the best viewing areas between the Waterloo and Lambeth bridges on both the north and south banks of the river. To get a good spot, you should plan to be at the viewing areas by 10pm. Alternatively, you can watch the display from the big screens at Trafalgar Square, or spend the night dancing at one of London’s hottest clubs—Electric Brixton or the O2 Brixton Academy. Be aware that many roads and bridges close in London for the festivities, so the best way to get around is by public transport in the late evening or wee hours of the morning.
You can celebrate the New Year with a glass of the world’s finest champagne when you travel to France this year. The festivities coincide with the feast of St. Sylvester each year, so making a dinner reservation is a quintessential part of the French New Year experience; book a dinner cruise along the River Seine or try the fare at one of Flo restaurant group’s eateries for some truly exquisite dishes. Then head out to the parties. If you want to be in the center of the action, make your way to Champs-Élysées, where you’ll have a good view of the major fireworks displays and the Eiffel Tower laser and light shows at midnight. Crowds start to gather around 9pm with plastic flutes in tow. Those who want to party hard can hit up two of Paris’ infamous nightclubs—the Rex and Mix Club.
If you’re looking for a more intimate New Year’s Eve in the City of Light, head to the Sacre Coeur plaza in Montmartre to get a bird’s eye view of the festivities. You’ll still be able to see the fireworks displays and Eiffel Tower light show, and be within easy reach of numerous bars, cabarets, and clubs. Public transport in Paris runs all night on New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day, making it easy and convenient to get back to your hotel once the party is over.