By Mariette Rough, Segway guide and party animal.
New Years Eve in Germany is called ‘Silvester’. Traditionally it is the day of the Feast of Pope Sylvester I, a saint who served as Pope of the Catholic Church from 314 to 335. The feast is held on the anniversary of his death, 31 December, which since the adoption of the Gregorian calender, coincides with New Years Eve. Many countries in mainland Europe call ‘New Years Eve’ variations of the saints’ name.
Germans wish one another well at this time of year by saying ‘Guten Rutsch’, the direct translation of this is ‘Have a good slide/slip’. Sounds a bit evil but they are essentially wishing you a smooth start to the New Year. Other common practices at this time of year include; giving small good luck gifts with four-leaf clovers, ladybirds, horse shoes and pigs on; filling doughnuts with mustard to trick people; watching the 1963 TV recording of the British comedy sketch ‘Dinner for one’. This sketch has a cult following around the world and is actually one of the most frequently aired TV programmes of all time.
The Best New Years Parties in Berlin
And of course massive crazy parties with lots of fireworks. Here are five of the best to make sure you have a great start to the new year.
Every New Years Eve the city of Berlin hosts a huge free open air party at the Brandenburg Gate. The 2km stretch of road from the Gate to the Siegessäule is transformed into a street festival. There are live bands, DJs and an incredible firework display at midnight.
The party attracts around 1 million party goers every year, so you can be sure of a good time. There is no closing time, so the only reason to go home is if you get too drunk or too cold! Bringing your own fireworks or glass bottles is prohibited, so do your Roman Candles before you get there.
Address: (Pariser Platz. Mitte)
Every year hundreds of people meet on Oberbaumbrücke (the bridge between the districts of Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg) to let off their fireworks and drink champagne with their family and friends. The road is blocked off from traffic so you can partake without getting run over (wouldn’t be an ideal start to the year). This choice is not for the faint hearted, Germans have minimal firework safety, contrary to the UK where you are basically taught never to set light to a sparkler unless you have a bucket of sand nearby and/or your dad. If you want to avoid the carnage of people pretty much firing rockets at one another, get yourself settled at the side of the river, where you can watch from a far.
There are approximately one billion bars and clubs in the surrounding streets to carry on the party after the midnight celebrations.
Since 1999 the historic East German cinema ‘Kino International’ has been hosting a New Years party, costing around 20€. 5 dance floors and 1000 sqm of panoramic glass front, means you can disco dance whilst also watching the rest of the city celebrate. Not sure how much Honecker would have liked it but the ‘Honecker Lounge’ will be playing RnB and Hip Hop.
Address: (Karl-Marx-Allee. 33. Mitte)
Website: Kino International Silvester Party
At €45 it’s pretty expensive but you will have one of the best views in the city for the fireworks. Weekend is actually on the 12th floor of an old GDR building right in the city centre. It opens at 10pm and goes in to the wee hours. Your first resolution of the year can be to make it to 8am when they close.
Address: (Tunnel Alexanderplatz. 5. Mitte)
Website: Silvester at Weekend
Spindler & Klatt
Address: (Köpenicker Strasse 16-17. Kreuzberg)
Website: Silvester Party at Spindler & Klatt
If you really want to get fancy for New Years, we recommend this. €30 gets you in the door, including a welcome drink (starting 11pm). Music is very technophobe friendly, with RnB and Hiphop, Charts and Classics being played over two floors. New Years would not be New Years without Kool & the Gang playing at least once. Should you want to do spend your entire evening there, you can book the Dinner and Show ticket, costing €175. This includes a show (starting 7pm) with live burlesque and gospel acts, as well as a four course meal. Champagne is unfortunately not included in the price.
From all of us at Fat Tire we wish you an exceptional New Year. To quote English author Neil Gaiman,
‘I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing something you’ve never done before, and more importantly you’re Doing Something. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Whatever it is you’re scared of doing. Do it. Make your mistakes , next year and forever.’
Amen to that 🙂