Capital Ideas for the Last of 2014

Feature
26 Dec 14
Capital Ideas for the Last of 2014

With New Year’s Eve only week away, several of the region’s finest cities are planning to tempt visitors with the promise of a wild night’s fun.

Ivana Nikolic
BIRN
Belgrade

You can already feel the festive spirit around some of the region’s capitals. Numerous hotels, hostels, restaurants, night clubs and squares are preparing to ring in 2015 in the presence of a throng of tourists and locals. If you still don’t know how and where to spend December 31, this is the time to make up your mind. Act now – or miss out!

BUDAPEST

The traditional Christmas market in the Hungarian capital is a favourite among tourists. | Photo by Bob/Flickr

If the so-called Pearl of the Danube is your choice of city to ring in 2015, try memorizing the word Szilveszter for a start. It is “New Year’s Eve” in Hungarian.

Hungarians love to party, so the city’s many restaurants, bars, pubs and cafés will be packed on December 31. Don’t worry if you don’t have a reservation, you can still find a place in many of them, with a substantial dinner included. Just be sure to get there early.

New Year’s Eve in Hungary starts with hearty winter fare: frankfurter sausages served with lashings of horseradish and mustard; lentil soup; roast pork, and many other traditional dishes. They are served after midnight.

A good place to start the evening’s action is Liszt Ferenc square on Andrassy boulevard, because this area is home to numerous bars and pubs and is also close to the outdoor activities on Nyugati ter and Oktogon – places with a promising firework displays.
Prices range from €40 to €240, depending on how popular and upscale the place is.

However, the best option for the ultimate Hungarian New Year’s Eve is a cruise on the Danube. Imagine entering 2015 on a boat! The last river cruise of 2014 includes full open bar, music and an impressive Hungarian folk dance performance. Last but not least, a midnight dinner is served with a traditional dish of rice, meat and stuffed cabbage. It is not cheap at around €160, but it definitely sounds worth it.

Don’t miss the traditional gypsy orchestra performance, named Wine and Music, held in the Budapest Congress and World Trade Centre on December 30. A perfect way to say goodbye to 2014, tickets cost from €41.


Advent takes place all over Zagreb, attracting both locals and tourists. | Photo Facebook

ZAGREB

It might not have boat cruises but the Croatian capital offers lots of pubs, clubs and bars to ring in 2015, as well as bundles of picture-postcard charm. If you can make it, come a few days ahead of the wildest night and enjoy the last days of the Advent season, a four-week lead-up to Christmas, which lasts until December 24. This is a great way to sample Croatian customs, traditional food, drinks, music, but also to treat yourself and your friends to seasonal gifts.

Advent events take place all over the Croatian capital and include the Christmas market, as well as other fun activities.

The city’s most popular downtown street, Tkalciceva, a minute’s walk from the central Ban Jelacic Square, offers loads of fun, food, drinks and live music to dance in 2015. Just make sure to book a place on time, as this city attracts more and more tourists each year and locals say it will be packed this time round.

The main attraction in Zagreb is, of course, Ban Jelacic Square itself, where the annual Christmas market started at the end of November. Decked out with a 10-metre-high Christmas tree, the square has numerous stands selling food and drink, as well as a big stage on which live bands will see out 2014.

A less traditional way to see in the New Year in the city is the New Year’s festival, NYE Croatia, which will feature well-known names from the electronic music scene, such as Plastik Funk, Vanilaz, Nicola Moreno, Thomas Gold, Mark Knight, Comfort, Gavin Woo, Joe 2 Shine and Van Pelt.

If you miss the party on the New Year’s Eve, don’t worry – you can see the whole thing again on New Year’s Day. The party takes place at Bocarski dom, with starting prices at around €40.

BUDVA

Budva, one of region’s favourites. | Photo Facebook

If you are fed up with the cold, windy winter weather of the Balkans, the Montenegrin seaside might be the right place to ring in 2015. With temperatures here usually nudging upwards from 10 degrees Celsius in winter, people rarely have to bundle themselves up in warm clothing.

The resort of Budva is one of region’s favourites, not just because of the clement climate but because of a tradition of throwing big parties and concerts on the last night of the year.

With the slogan “See you in Budva”, locals hope to attract as many tourists as possible this year. The plan is to celebrate the start of 2015 over five days. The programme kicks off on December 31 at 9.30pm at the square next to Budva’s Old Town with a show by the singer Danijel Alibabic, while 2015 will start to the sound of the famous Yugoslav band, Bijelo Dugme.

On New Year’s Day, the tempo will be quieter with some Classical music, courtesy of the Mediterranean Festival Orchestra. During the evening, other musicians from the region will be performing, including Croatia’s Toni Cetinski.

On January 2, locals and visitors have an opportunity to listen to another popular Yugoslav band, Parni Valjak. They will be kicking off on stage at 11pm.

If you are not a fan of such outdoor activities, see the old year out and the New Year in at one of Budva’s many clubs, bars and restaurants. Make sure to book both your hotel and New Year’s Eve venue on time. And be ready to pay a bit more than usual, as the lowest price for an evening’s fun is usually around €50.

Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)