Irish Examiner Saturday - Irish Examiner - Weekend
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Ciara McDonell puts on a party dress and picks superb destinations to celebrate the dawn of a new decade
Alicante has a very special tradition on New Year’s Eve, celebrating the transition between the old and new year with twelve lucky grapes. The idea is, at midnight, the 12 lucky grapes must be eaten, one with each strike of the clock. If you manage to eat them all in due time, these grapes will bring you luck for the new year. Originating in Alicante back in the 1900s, crowds still gather on the city’s squares to eat their grapes and count down the arrival of the new year together.
Stay: With stunning views out over the Mediterranean ocean, the TRYP Alicante Gran Sol is an ideal spot to base yourself for your break.
Despite its gorgeous views, you are situated right in the middle of all the action, making it super easy to meander back to your hotel after a night of revelling, Spanish style. www.melia.com/sol
Get There: Ryanair flies to Alicante from Cork airport.
Offering a huge amount of options when it comes to ringing in the new year, Amsterdam is an easy choice for a last-minute NYE break. Eating deep-fried dough balls at midnight is one of the most widespread New Year’s Eve traditions in the Netherlands, which has its roots in an ancient Germanic myth in which oliebollen are consumed to ward off evil spirits.
Street vendors will be selling them all over the city but prepare for a bit of a queue. Fireworks are only sold on a few special days throughout the year in Amsterdam, so residents make the most of it on New Year, when the sky is lit up for most of the night. It’s a beautiful juxtaposition to the canals, which are lit up too, thanks to the Amsterdam Light Festival, which goes on until late January.
Stay: Position yourself right in the centre of things, at Hotel Twenty Seven on Dam Square. This ultra-fabulous hotel features sixteen individually designed suites and a Michelin-starred restaurant. The hotel is so fancy that it even boasts its own signature scent, spritzed throughout the building to ensure maximum sensory extravagance. www.hoteltwentyseven.com
Get There: Aer Lingus flies to Amsterdam from Cork Airport
Start your new year in Budapest by strolling around the festive market at St Stephen’s Basilica and indulging in a mug of delicious Glühwein. From there, head straight to the Széchenyi Baths, where you can soak in preparation for the night ahead. This year, the thermal bath will throw open its doors until 3am to celebrate the new year. If you want to spend the night at the city’s hottest pool party, be sure to book your ticket in advance at http://szechenyispabaths.com. For those seeking a five-star experience, consider ringing in the new year at Danube Palace, where a five-course dinner follows a two-hour gala concert.
Stay: Chic and seriously luxurious, The Corinthia Budapest offers old school glamour in the heart of the city. Expect marble floors and soaring ceilings, and don’t forget the fabulous onsite spa. www.corinthia.com/budapest.
Get there: Ryanair flies to Budapest from Cork Airport
Edinburgh hosts one of the most fantastical celebrations. Hogmanay gets bigger and better every year and the line-up this year is better than most of the summer festivals.
Mark Ronson’s Hogmanay In The Gardens will feature performances from Rudimental and Mungo’s Hi Fi, who promise to kick off the party in style before Ronson provides a soundtrack to the midnight firework display over Edinburgh Castle. As well as the concert, there’ll be a street party, hosted by Johnnie Walker and the now essential Ceilidh under the Castle. www.edinburghshogmanay.com
Stay: The Adagio at Edinburgh Royal Mile offers well-appointed self-catering apartments at fantastic prices. For those who are planning to party, this is a great option in a brilliant location. The apartments are comfortable and boast all mod cons that are essential to a weekend break. www.adagio-city.com
Get there: Aer Lingus flies to Edinburgh from Cork Airport
With year-round sunshine, gorgeous beaches and a short flight from Cork, The Canaries are a great choice for a new year’s break. The clubs of Playa del Inglés and Maspalomas in Gran Canaria, or Playa de las Américas and Costa Adeje in Tenerife offer dancing ‘til sunrise while the fireworks of Santa Cruz in Tenerife and most of the smaller towns and villages throughout the islands offer a more familial feel. No matter where you go in the Canary Islands, you’ll find a party that suits your needs.
Stay: TUI departs Cork on 29th of December for seven nights, staying in the TUI Suneo Waikiki in Gran Canaria on an all-inclusive basis for €1,606pp. This super family-friendly resort has something for all ages, and an adultsonly section for those who need a break for the little ones. www.tui.ie
While the Spanish turn to grapes to give them luck at new year, in Portugal, it is raisins. Eating twelve raisins at midnight will give you twelve chances at a new year wish, according to lore. Just like the Irish, the Portuguese like to get their pots and pans out to bang in the new year… all in the name of good luck of course! True to its reputation as Portugal’s most hip city, Lisbon has plenty to keep tourists occupied for the last night of 2019. Praça do Comércio will host the city’s biggest public celebration. With live music throughout the night and lots of street vendors on hand to keep hunger at bay, this promises to be the site of the biggest party.
Stay: This city is so stylish; it makes sense to book a design-led hotel. Walk down a narrow street and through a small tunnel and you’ll find Memmo Príncipe Real. This super sleek boutique hotel is all modern lines and faux fur throws, but its staff are the real diamonds – they are so eager and friendly, you’ll be planning your return before you check out. www.designhotels.com/
Get there: Aer Lingus flies to Lisbon from Cork airport.
Celebrations in London city centre on New Year’s Eve have been ticketed and limited to 100,000 people since 2013, when over half a million people showed up. People in the know flock to Primrose Hill and Hampstead Heath with a picnic basket and a bottle of fizz. From here you can spread out a blanket and watch the firework display in a supremely family-friendly environment.
If you’re looking to splash the cash and leave 2019 with a bang, then bag yourself a ticket to Radio Rooftop’s exclusive New Year’s Eve bash at the ME London. Enjoy luxury canapés and an open bar and make memories of a lifetime as you watch the city’s fireworks from the sky-high balcony. Tickets cost from €300 and can be booked at https://www.designmynight.com.
Stay: If you head to the party at Radio Rooftop, then it makes sense to book into the ME London in Convent Garden for the night. Achingly cool, the rooms here have a clean and contemporary style and make the most of its superb location, with floor-to-ceiling windows granting glorious views of London’s skyline. This is a hotel to see and be seen, so expect to clock some famous people on their way up to the Radio Rooftop. https://www.melia.com
Get there: Ryanair flies to Gatwick and Stansted and Aer Lingus flies to Heathrow.