As we do almost every year, we got to December 30 without having any idea of what we were going to do to celebrate New Year’s. I don’t really get excited about New Year’s — I like the holiday, I think it’s great to ring in a new year, but after all that goes in to making Christmas, I’m usually pretty spent by December 31. We usually do very little (if anything) and, since B was born, we don’t always even make it until midnight.
The day after Christmas, though, preparations were obviously underway here in Vienna for something, and it caught my interest. We had no idea what to expect from a Viennese Silvester (New Year’s Eve) celebration, but given that we won’t have that many opportunities to find out about it, we decided to try to get out and see what was going on.
The noise (including fireworks) and music started early in the morning here (I think it may have contributed to Bailey’s adventure on Saturday) but we were busy all day, looking for Bailey, plus going to the store and doing other usual Saturday kinds of things. We didn’t head out until after nap time . . . and then once everyone was up and we got the kids bundled up and ready for an evening out, it was nearly 7.
Vienna is amazing on New Year’s Eve. A bunch of streets in the main part of town were closed down to make a huge, continuous pedestrian zone from the Rathaus to the Hofburg Palace. There were half a dozen (or more) stages with live music. Even as early as 7:00, empty champagne bottles stood in doorways and windowsills, and fireworks were being set off on nearly every street corner. (Although fireworks are technically illegal, it is a law that apparently isn’t enforced — we saw people setting off fireworks just feet from police officers, who didn’t even look in their direction.) It was crowded, it was loud (fireworks thrown into the Roman ruins in Michaelerplatz create a phenomenal amount of noise) and it was fun.
We wandered around, grabbed some dinner and took in the sights while the kids rode in the stroller. After an hour or so, they got cold and wanted to go home, so we went. We went home, gave them their baths, read stories . . . and decided to go back out. How many times, after all, are we going to get the chance to celebrate the New Year in Vienna?
Bundled up and put into the stroller again, Liam fell asleep almost instantly. Benjamin stayed awake. He rode in the stroller for parts of our tour, and got out and walked for parts. We went to the Rathaus (which was crazy) and we walked around part of the Ringstrasse, admiring the amateur fireworks displays. We made our way past the Volksgarten and acquired two paper cups of champagne (they were out of children’s options, so B had to toast the new year with water). At a quarter of twelve, we were in Michaelerplatz, making our way towards the Hofburg with a throng of other people. Midnight found us in Heldenplatz, right by the Hofburg, watching an amazing fireworks display with a sleeping toddler and a freaked out preschooler (the 20+ minute duration of the official fireworks display was too much for Benjamin). We toasted with our leaking paper cups, had a quick kiss and pushed our way back out of the crowd (we left before most everyone else did, for B’s sake — he’d been a trooper but had just had enough) to head towards home.
It was a late night (because of course Liam woke up before we got home) and, in the way that little kids do, there was no sleeping in the next morning. But I’m so glad we did it. The me of a year ago would have scoffed at the idea of going out on New Year’s Eve at all . . . who wants to deal with finding a sitter, rushing home to the kids, worrying about the drunk drivers on the road, when we could just stay home and have a nice relaxed evening? There’s nothing wrong with a nice, relaxed New Year’s Eve, but with a festive, urban celebration literally steps from our front door, it would have been such a shame to miss it. Not only did we go out, experience the Viennese Silvester, and have a great time, but our kids got to be a part of it. I’m really grateful for the ways in which I’ve made some little changes in the past year, because the sum of those changes mean that I get to have simple, pleasant experiences like this with my family. It’s exactly what I wanted to learn to do by coming here.