Recharge your batteries and have some fun with an end-of-year city break in Edinburgh, Paris, Dublin or Amsterdam – all just a short flight from Southampton Airport.
No other city anywhere in the world celebrates New Year quite like Edinburgh and it’s a great place to spend a few days in the run-up to New Year’s Eve – or Hogmanay as it’s known in Scotland. Flybe will take you there in just 1 hour, 40 minutes.
This world-famous icon is home to the Honours (Crown Jewels) of Scotland, the Stone of Destiny, the famous 15th-century gun Mons Meg, the One O’ Clock Gun and the National War Museum of Scotland.
This grand spectacle, on December 30, kicks off the city’s New Year celebrations and sees thousands of torch-bearers join Up Helly Aa’s Vikings, pipes and drums to march through the heart of Edinburgh with flaming torches, creating a river of fire down the Royal Mile to Holyrood Park.
This labyrinth of cobbled streets, alleyways and hidden courtyards is Edinburgh’s Old Town. Steeped in history, the Old Town – UNESCO World Heritage site since 1995 – has the Royal Mile running through its heart. This street of Reformation-era tenement buildings leads from the seat of Edinburgh Castle on Castle Rock down to the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
He was the loyal Skye Terrier who sat by his master’s grave for 14 years until his own death in 1872. Immortalised in fiction and film, Greyfriars Bobby’s statue sits at the junction of junction of George IV Bridge and Candlemaker Row, while his grave – and that of his master – is in the neighbouring Greyfriars Kirkyard. But don’t rub his nose. Visitors who rub his nose for good luck have been damaging what is one of Edinburgh’s most-loved monuments.
Many say it’s the city that invented the city break but no matter how many times you visit Dublin it ever fails to surprise and delight – and winter is no exception. Jet over with Flybe in 1 hour, 15 minutes.
The Black Stuff
Whatever you do on your New Year break you’ll work up a thirst so a pint of the black stuff at the world-famous Guinness Brewery at St James’s Gate and the Storehouse – Ireland’s most-visited attraction – is waiting for you.
Food and Drink
No visit to Dublin is complete without savouring the amazing food – from informal cafés, hearty traditional fare in the pub to Michelin-starred dining, this city has it all. The Temple Bar district, also known as the Cultural Quarter, has plenty of bars and restaurants plus an eclectic mix of shops and markets.
Take a Walk
Stroll along the banks of the River Liffey which runs through the heart of the city – you’ll be amazed at how the many bridges each have their own story to tell!
At the James Joyce Centre, you can chart the history of one of Ireland’s most influential and celebrated writers. His most famous work is Ulysses (1922), based on Homer’s The Odyssey, and follows the movements of Leopold Bloom through a single day in 1904. There’s also the ninth-century Book of Kells, perhaps Ireland’s most famous piece of literature, in the Old Library at Trinity College.
Paris on New Year’s Eve will make you feel warm and fuzz as you soak up the camaraderie and atmosphere as you gather by the Eiffel Tower – the focal point of Paris and gathering place on the last night of the year. It’s just an hour away with Flybe.
The world-famous boulevard, particularly near the Arc de Triomphe, is the site of the official Parisian New Year’s Eve street party – the lights decorating its 400 trees are gorgeous.
Musée du Louvre
The Louvre is the world’s largest art museum. Located on the right bank of the River Seine, it is home to some incredible works of art including Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Alexandros of Antioch’s Aphrodite of Milos.
Marais, a trendy district with a village feel, is awash with cobblestone streets and quirky boutiques. Straddling the Paris Centre arrondissement, it’s also a historical and cultural area – you’ll find the famous Picasso Museum here.
A Seine river cruise will let you see many notable Paris landmarks and escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Various options are available, from one-hour daytime cruises to relaxing evening dinner cruises.
You can’t go wrong with Amsterdam when it comes to a winter break. It’s one of the most popular city-break destinations in Europe, thanks to its canal-lined streets, quirky museums, cool cafés and great mix of shops. From Southampton Airport, it’s just 1 hour, 20 minutes with Flybe.
Amsterdam Light Festival
Amsterdam’s famous festival sees the city transformed into a huge outdoor art gallery during the winter months. Magical light installations adorn canals, streets and landmarks with about 30 sculptures on display.
Why not explore some of the city’s quirkier, smaller museums? The Museum of Bags and Purses, housed in a 17th-century canal house, tracks the history of the bag from medieval times and uncovers trends through the ages. Another great museum is the Cat Cabinet (Kattenkabinet), founded in memory of a frisky tomcat called John Pierpont Morgan.
The traditional Dutch pub is called a “brown café” due to its dark, wooden décor and walls often stained by cigarette smoke. Very much a part of the city’s culture, these cosy and welcoming watering holes serve mainly Dutch beer and a taste of local life. Do some sight-seeing then bunker up in the pub.
Hearty, substantial and satisfying, Dutch cuisine was made for cold days and nights. Try stamppot – traditional Dutch mash – and snert, a thick pea and ham soup. Oliebollen – deep-fried, sweet dumplings dusted in sugar – is a delicious treat traditionally served on New Year’s Eve.
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