Dubai, Sydney & Edinburgh fireworks: New Year celebrations around the world
This year’s new year’s celebrations were probably the quietest I’ve ever had (although you’d never guess it from the amount of time it’s taken for me to write this up!) I was back in my home country of England and missed the outstanding fireworks in London to spend some quality time with close friends at home – something I miss when back in Dubai.
This year’s stunning fireworks in London had nothing on the fireworks back in Dubai however, with those released over The Palm and The World breaking the world record with 479,651 shells being released in just six minutes (almost 1332 fireworks per second!) The videos were amazing (see here), although there were some major issues with access to Palm Jumeirah to see the celebrations close hand. Having celebrated from Jambase in Madinat Jumeirah before, I can highly recommend investing and booking a table at one of the resort’s outlets (sadly Jambase is no longer open), there you won’t have to queue at a bar all night, but can enjoy great food and drink as well as entertainment, and head out to the terrace to see the fireworks at midnight, all in comfort, and without the same traffic/access issues.
Considering that I have welcomed in the new year at some of the key party destinations in the world, I really do have to add London to the list soon – it’s often the way that our home countries get the least attention in terms of exploration, but that’s no excuse. Since living in Dubai, I have only been back to the UK twice for new year – and the height of my exploration was a trip to Edinburgh for the infamous Hogmanay street party. It was every bit as good as I had anticipated, although I had not appreciated quite how cold it would be! We arrived on 30th December and headed out on the bus tour, opting to sit on the open top to make sure we got the best views – we had to scrape ice off the seats but that didn’t deter us, in fact we only jumped ship (bus) when we could no longer feel our legs! This didn’t take long so the initial sightseeing was short-lived as we dived straight into the nearest pub with a fire, spare seats and still serving hot food! After leaving our boots by the fire and tucking into some hearty food and a couple of bottles of wine, we were feeling much warmer, and had made a lot of new friends! The whole town was heaving with people full of festive cheer (in more ways than one!) and we had one of the warmest welcomes to a town that I have ever had – the only downside was that this unfortunately resulted in us waking up on new year’s eve with a bit of a hangover! We were staying above Biddy Mulligans Irish pub in Grassmarket though, so a full Irish breakfast helped fix that problem, and we spent a great day and night exploring the markets, fairgrounds and pop-up bars, and listening to some great bands and DJ’s. My only advice would be to wrap up really warm as it’s cold out on the streets there all night – layering is definitely the way forward, I was doing a great Michelin Man impression with three pairs of socks, boots, tights and leggings under my jeans, a vest, t-shirt, v neck and polo neck jumper under my coat, and of course scarf, gloves and a wooly hat! The other great thing about being in Edinburgh was that there was so much to do during the day. I always like to start the new year getting out and exploring – doing something nice on the 1st Jan – and the beauty of being in Edinburgh was that we had plenty to see – on this occasion we went up to Edinburgh Castle for a beautiful crisp sunny day’s walk, followed by a spooky tour of The Real Mary King’s Close.
The other global party destination that I have been fortunate enough to experience for new year is Sydney (a much warmer experience!) After spending a backpacker’s Christmas on Bondi Beach, I had spent a lot of time researching the best viewpoints for the iconic fireworks against the classic backdrop of the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. I went with the festival-type setting of the Botanical Gardens and we laid our rugs down at Mrs Macquaries Point around lunchtime amid the thousands of other people. The atmosphere was fantastic, some people spent the afternoon sunbathing, chatting to others and chilling out, while others set up spontaneous games of volleyball and rugby – the uniting factor was that everyone was enjoying the sunshine and ambience with plenty of liquid refreshment throughout the day! Alcohol is available inside the gardens on the day, but as we were poor recently graduated backpackers we had smuggled in our own! Plenty of people had been stopped doing the same, but we disguised ours in green plastic 7up bottles and managed to distract the bag-checkers before they could open the bottles and sniff them! Actually, I was pretty impressed with how thorough their checks were – plenty of people were caught out with the sniff test! However I do have to say that I don’t recommend our antics – aside from the fact that it’s not allowed, one of the many flaws with our plan meant that we had no way of keeping the (white) wine chilled all day so it gradually heated up in the sun over the course of the day and this mixture made a couple of people pretty ill by the following morning and gave us all terrible hangovers! And in actual fact the drinks available inside were nowhere near as expensive as we had imagined so we would have been much better off to just buy the drinks when we got there – you live and learn!!
For new year’s day explorations here, there options are countless, depending on how you are feeling! For those wanting to start the year with a bang, you could brave the Harbour Bridge Climb, or just chill out with a wander around Darling Harbour or the Botanic Gardens, or if you are feeling energetic, walk take a walk around the coast. Alternatively, if that all sounds a bit much, you could do as I did and get the ferry to Manley Beach to spend another day in the sun at yet another stunning Australian beach.
Right now, at the very start of 2014, I have no idea where I’ll be at the end of it. I’m trying to be more spontaneous this year, so will wait and see what happens over the coming months, but I do hope it will be spent somewhere new – whether in another iconic spot such as New York, or finally in London, or chilling out away from any fuss on a beach somewhere, who knows, but I can’t wait to find out!