THE Olive Press trawls the globe to bring you the best end of year parties and holiday destination ideas to see in 2007 in style.
Boogie with the Stars at Times Square, New York
If you ask most people what the Big Apples’ iconic main square means to them undoubtedly the answer will be garish neon ads (known officially as spectaculars) for the latest blockbusting movie and fast food restaurants’ latest promo offers. But did you know December 31 sees some of the hottest names in showbiz swooping down on the Supper Club in Times Square to wine and dine in style. Diddy (or whatever the rapper is calling himself this year), Angelina Jolie, David Bowie and film director Quentin Tarantino have all been spotted on New Year’s Eve at the club between Broadway and 8th Avenue in recent years. Did you know you could be there, rubbing shoulders with those hot stars? Tickets cost from 100 euros. Go to www.newyears.com
Alternatively, why not join the real stars as 750,000 people brave the inclement conditions to cram into the square to hear the New Year being welcomed in by the bells from Times Square Tower.
Where to stay
How to get there
Iberia flies daily from Madrid to the John F Kennedy airport in New York. Web info: www.iberia.com
Make a Sacrifice to the Goddess of Fertility in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Fancy spending New Year in the sun? Then why not head over to Brazil’s second city of Rio de Janeiro for the famous Reveillon end of year party. Similar to the French New Year’s celebration of the same name, people get together and have a damned fine old time. However, unlike in freezing France, Cariocas (as the people in Rio are known) flock to the white sands of the Copacabana beach at sun down in nothing more than their swimwear for a night-long party of dancing and merriment. The Reveillon culminates in a (harmless) sacrifice to Lemanja, the Yoruba goddess of women and fertility.
Close to dawn, why not break away from the festivities and head up the Corcovado Mountain, where Christ the Redeemer watches over his flock of six million locals. This is the perfect spot to see the first sun rise of January 1.
Where to stay
As you would expect in one of the world’s top New Year destinations, hotel beds are scarce. Located near the beach of the same name, the three-star Hotel Acapulco Copacabana has a few double rooms still available for December 31. Go to www.hotelsrus.com for more information. Alternatively, you may fancy a night at the plush Copacabana Palace. Dominating the Rio skyline since 1923, sea view rooms for the end of the year start at 400 euros. City views are a little cheaper. Or, how about a penthouse suite with views over the Atlantic Ocean at little less than 1,600 euros a night?
How to get there
Air Europa offers three flights from Madrid to Rio de Janeiro. Visit www.air-europa.com for more information.
Dance the Nights Away in Edinburgh
According to popular belief, Scotland’s Hogmanay celebration is the mother of all knees ups. Usually lasting at least 24 hours, millions of people take to the country’s streets to see in the New Year (and the following few days!). Each city, village and town has its own idea as to how Hogmanay should be celebrated – with some more explosive as others! In the fishing village of Stonehaven in north eastern Scotland, the New Year is welcomed in with the Ancient Fireballs Ceremony. Up to 40 local men parade down the village’s High Street swinging huge balls of fire above their heads. To the accompaniment of a local pipe and drum band, the men march to the village’s harbour where the fiery spheres are flung into the North Sea.
Edinburgh has, perhaps, the longest Hogmanay party in Scotland this year. The celebrations kick off on December 29 with a torch lit procession through the capital’s streets. Torches can be bought for six euros with all the proceedings going to a good cause: the Radio Forth Help a Child Appeal. December 30 is celebrated with open-air parties, street theatre and traditional ceilidh music throughout the night.
The final night of the year is the biggie. It is when the sound of the twelve chimes of midnight are interrupted by the pops of champagne corks, the caterwauling of the traditional Auld Lang Syne, cheers, yells and screams and fireworks whizzing and banging in the chilled night air. There are pop and rock concerts and string concertos among the many events on offer around Edinburgh.
New Year’s Day is a somewhat healthier affair with fun runs and other sporting events planned around the city. Perhaps one definitely not to miss is the Edinburgh Dogmanay. This is an annual event in which teams of Siberian huskies, Alaskan Malamutes and Samoyeds compete against each other in a mushing competition in the city’s Holyrood Park. For more information on the Edinburgh events, go to www.edinburghshogmanay.org
Where to stay
Get your skates on if you want to book any hotel accommodation. Visit www.uk.hotels .com for their comprehensive online booking service.
How to get there
Northern lights in northern Sweden
If Scotland is not cold enough for your New Year celebrations, why not try an adventure 200 kilometres north of the Artic Circle in the village of Jukkasjarvi in Sweden. If the weather conditions are right, you can swap fireworks for the Aurora Borealis, those famous, ethereal Northern Lights which illuminate the night sky.
What’s more, you can treat yourself to a couple of nights in the world’s largest ice hotel. Made using 3,000 tonnes of ice from the river Torne and 30,000 cubic metres of snow, the hotel has more than 80 rooms, most of which contain ice beds and ice sculptures. However, heated suites are on offer if you do not want to share a room with Jack Frost.
Days can be spent exploring the artic wilderness. Choices of excursion include husky sledging or even a moose safari, on which you may see the animals up close.
Evenings can be spent in the hotel’s Absolut Ice Bar. Here, you can choose from their vast range of chilled vodka cocktails, which come served in, naturally, glasses made of ice.
For booking and travel information, go to www.artic-experience.co.uk