N E W Y E A R G E TA W AY S
FOR AULD LANG SYNE Whether you’d prefer to be dancing in the streets or just enjoying some peace and quiet, we bring you the best Hogmanay experiences from Scotland and further afield Words: Anna Millar, Jonny Ensall, Mark Robertson
Get on the farm Forget Carry on Camping, the crew at Comrie Croft in Perthshire know how to do camping in style, with this eco- friendly farmstead conversion. Located in Crieff, surrounded by gorgeous vistas, bring in the bells around a campfire, whether in their Swedish kåtas or their award-winning hostel. Situated in the foothills of the Scottish mountains, on the edge of the Highlands, expect a laidback escape, just an hour or so away from Edinburgh and Glasgow. Those looking to up the party ante can venture into Comrie village for their annual pipe band and pagan festival bonanza on New Year’s Eve. There’s a two-night minimum stay; prices start at £22pp. See comriecroft.com for more or call 01764 670140.
Take a bite out of the Big Apple The city that never sleeps proves its mettle come Hogmanay with the majority 40 THE LIST 20 oct–17 nov 2011
of the mainstream action being found in Times Square. A billion watch live from around the world as the New Year ball comes crashing down on the stroke of midnight, with a host of music acts to accompany the fun. Those looking for something a little different should head to the Lower East Side where the bars extend their opening hours; across town the West Village impresses year in, year out with its assortment of live DJ nights in its array of basement bars. See timessquarenyc.org for full NY details. Check out dialaflight.com for some good last-minute deals from Edinburgh and Glasgow. Say Prost! with the Berliners Here at The List we’re big fans of the German capital, whether it’s for a weekend of culture buffing or some serious drinking and dancing – little surprise then that in recent years Berlin’s become something of a go-to
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destination for those who like a New Year party of the street variety and want to venture beyond Edinburgh. More than a million (yes, a million) revellers head to the mile-long Pariser Platz, with the Brandenburg Gate as their backdrop, to enjoy music stages, dance floors and bars ahoy – lest we forget the obligatory fireworks. Guten Rutsch, people! See silvester-berlin.de for full details, and ryanair.com or easyjet.com for flights. Bonjour Paris Sure, it’s the most romantic city in the world but Paris has a lot more going on besides. While they flock in their droves to the Champs Elysées and the Eiffel Tower to see the fireworks, we recommend wrapping up and parking yourself on the steps of the Sacré Coeur, which offers arguably the best vantage point in the city. Better still, you can indulge in a spot of the Moulin Rouge with the bars, cabaret and clubs of Montmartre and the nearby Pigalle. No stagger home would be complete without the obligatory crepe monsieur. Très bon! See easyjet.com for direct flights to Charles de Gaulle airport or eurostar.com for last-minute train deals.
Head for the sea When it comes to rugged coastlines, on a crisp wintery day Scotland excels and offers ample accommodation to show it off. Corsewell Lighthouse Hotel in Dumfries is just one of many, offering stunning views and dinner, bed and breakfast at their restaurant. Functioning as a lighthouse since 1815, the owner’s hands-on approach only adds to the intimate appeal here. Venture around the surrounding 20 acres, taking in views of Arran, the Kintyre peninsula, Ailsa Craig and, if you’re lucky, on a clear night, the coast of Ireland. New Year prices start from £190 for a five-course dinner, bed and champagne breakfast. See lighthousehotel.co.uk for more or call 01776 853220. Do DIY fireworks in Amsterdam By day there’s shopping, cycling and stroopwafels. By night there’s the smut- filled city centre, with its sex shows, shops and workers. However, on New Year’s Eve the real excitement takes place away from Amsterdam’s tourist- crowded red-light district. Locals go to the large Dam Square for a huge public firework display. More fun still is to head west towards the Jordaan area, or south towards Nieuwmarkt. From midnight onwards people on every street corner and houseboat en route will be firing rockets into the sky. The experience is ear-poppingly loud, not to mention dangerous and exhilarating. It’s best enjoyed with one of two Dutch specialities: appelflappen, a kind of apple turnover, or oliebollen, literally ‘oily balls’ – doughnuts as delicious as they sound. See easyjet.com for flights from £25.99pp one way.
Head to the Highlands and Islands Weather permitting, take your pick from one of Scotland’s islands and enjoy a true return to some community roots, embracing the craic as only Highlanders can. Our pick would be Oban, with a quick fix to Mull on the CalMac ferry. Always slow at announcing their plans in Mull, expect fireworks, ceilidhs and great local foods. Head for Tobermory and enjoy some revelry at the mighty Mishnish pub (a taste of their homebrewed ale is a must) or enjoy some quiet time around Calgary Bay or Iona. Book one of the few rooms left on the island now to avoid disappointment. See scotrail.co.uk and calmac.co.uk for train and ferry prices.
Kiss the blarney . . . . . . or just enjoy some Guinness in Dublin. With budget airlines still offering up decent fares, Ireland’s a great shout for some last-minute fun. A city known for its charm, visitors can choose between the New Year’s Eve Gala Concert at the National Concert Hall or some rock band indulgence at the Guinness Storehouse’s New Year Live jamboree, at St James’s Gate. Our tip? Head to Dublin’s cultural quarter and Temple Bar. If ringing in the bells is top of your list, follow the flock to Christ Church Cathedral. It’s a sight to behold. See ryanair.com for flights from £39.99pp one way.
Make like royalty As this List writer can testify, being given the keys to one of Scotland’s castles is a little bit like being a kid in a candy store – and boy do Scotland like their castles, with some offering you the chance to stay as part of a B&B package, or in some cases on an ‘exclusively yours’ basis. There’s still good availability for the New Year, including the close(ish) to home Birkhill Castle just outside St Andrews, near Dundee. Located on the banks of Loch Tay this is a lovely retreat for those looking to create a more intimate party. See more on Birkhill Castle at birkhillcastle.org.uk or see celticcastles.com for a full range of availability throughout Scotland. On the buses To party or not to party? The decision of what to do over Hogmanay can be a tough one. Handy then, that the MacBackpackers have Hogmanay tours offering you a little bit of everything. While New Year’s Eve is spent in Edinburgh bowing at the altar of all things Primal Scream, the days around Hogmanay are spent exploring the Highlands and/or Islands. A three- day Skye Tour (28 Dec–2 Jan) and a Highland Fling Tour, taking in Oban and Inverness, are still available. Prices range from £75 to £173. See macbackpackers.com for more.