Last year, we went in to New Year’s Eve with no expectations, and we ended up having a surprisingly fantastic time (despite getting stuck remarkably close to where the fireworks were being launched with a child who was NOT amused by the tremendous amounts of sound and smoke).
This year, we had a much better idea of what to expect. New Year’s Eve in the center of Vienna means day-long concerts, lots of public intoxication (but it’s surprisingly orderly), food and drink for sale, stands selling stuffed pigs for good luck in the New Year, many people dressed in crazy hats and sporadic fireworks throughout, followed by a big fireworks display at midnight. It’s a good time. Much of the downtown area around the already large pedestrian zone is closed to traffic, creating a massive area in the center of the city closed to cars and available to revelers. Concerts featuring all kinds of music are set up throughout the city. It’s loud, and festive, and very, very fun.
And, since we enjoyed ourselves last year, we set out to try it again this year. Again, we wandered through the streets along with everyone else in Vienna. Everywhere was crowded. Each concert had a huge number of people (of all ages) dancing along. We started out with the kids in the stroller, but they got out to dance along the way. We walked through the center of town, stopped for a cookie at Starbucks, walked past the Hofburg Palace, around the Ringstrasse and around to the Rathaus (which was hosting the most raucous party of them all). We were cold, but we had fun. The celebration was so enthusiastic and lighthearted, and it was fun just to be out in it.
But, unlike last year, the kids had had enough after a few hours. Around 10:30, they wanted to go home, so we obliged. We came home, got everyone dressed in pajamas and started to get ready for bed . . . but, it turned out, they wanted to stay up and be festive for the new year, just not outside. So, we played Wii together until the big moment.
And, we were pleasantly surprised to find out, we could see some of the fireworks from our kitchen window. So we rang in the New Year, all together, bunched around the kitchen window. It was a great end to 2012 — Vienna throws a great New Year’s party.