8 Great Places to Celebrate the New Year with Kids
By Rhonda Carrier
New Year's Eve is certainly a different kettle of fish after kids come along, but there are still plenty of ways to make it a night to remember. And why not make a mini-break of it, whether in a city or by the seaside – our inspiring destinations range from the Scottish capital with its famous New Year celebrations to some less obvious destination in mainland Europe and around the world.
Tickets to watch the New Year's Eve fireworks on the South Bank sell out well in advance. Far more family-friendly is London's New Year's Day Parade, starting at Green Park at noon and ending by Big Ben. Stay: The Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, with an indoor pool plus some suites with kitchenettes.
Seaside Weymouth goes bananas for New Year's Eve, with the whole town coming out in fancy dress, indoor and outdoor live music, and a coming together to sing Auld Lang Syne around the town clock. Stay: Moonfleet Manor, with a three-night New Year house party package including early children's fireworks and a black-tie dinner for adults (and kids if they like).
Nowhere does New Year’s Eve like Edinburgh, where the three-day winter festival of Hogmanay inlcudes a family ceilidh, a street party and a torchlit procession. Stay: Yotel Edinburgh, including family cabins.
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A New Year’s Trail from City Hall (Rathaus) leads revellers through the narrow streets of the Austrian capital's Old Town, lined by around 80 stalls selling culinary treats including hot punch, and past stages hosting live music ranging from rock and folk to waltzes and operettas, while fireworks light up the skies. You can also take a spin on the famous Riesenrad giant ferris wheel, which awakes from its winter slumber for the New Year period; some of the attractions of the surrounding Prater fairground are also open, including the ghost train, and there's a Christmas market there too. New Year’s morning brings revellers back to City Hall for a bracing open-air screening of the Vienna Philharmonic’s world-renowned New Year’s concert. Stay: Vienna Ring View Apartments, sleeping up to six.
You'll find plenty of atmosphere at the Andalucian capital's Plaza Nueva, where locals gather to watch the clock after a big family meal. Bring a bottle of champagne to pop, and some grapes for the kids – the tradition in Spain is to eat one for every chime of the clock at midnight, each bringing a month’s worth of good luck in the coming year. Stay: The Casa Romana boutique hotel, with some rooms with sofabeds, plus a rooftop terrace.
Everyone knows about Times Square’s dropping ball, and that’s the problem – crowds are immense, and you’re unlikely to see much of the action if you stick to this most famous of festivities. Cross the bridge to Brooklyn to find a far more civilised affair in Grand Army Plaza and Prospect Park, where suburbanites gather to watch fireworks and there are even free hot drinks to help you keep warm. Stay: The Kimberly Hotel & Suites, with suites for up to six, including kitchenettes.
The Midwest city's big outdoors celebration, Chi-Town Rising along the Chicago River, features musical headliners, fireworks and a NYC-style countdown and ball drop. Stay: The Four Seasons Chicago, with an indoor pool, playroom, pizza-making classes, and even its own ice-cream cart and Hot Chocolate Doctor doing the rounds of the rooms.
The mercury in the capital of New South Wales hits a balmy 25°C on average in December, which means that you won’t mind arriving at the Sydney Opera House 12 hours early to stake out a place from which to ogle the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge fireworks. Bring a picnic, soak up the rays and enjoy the party atmosphere as the hours tick down to midnight and the fireworks light up the bridge in a series of dazzling pyrotechnics. Stay: The Meriton Serviced Apartments World Tower Sydney, with apartments for up to six plus an indoor pool.