I’ve rung in many a New Year in my life. Some more eventful than others. I’ve bowled in Pittsburgh, admired the descending acorn in Raleigh, and unsuccessfully searched for the party in Parma, Italy and Mexico City (really my hot-blooded friends – no street parties on New Year’s?). One year I reserved bunks in the Y in NYC a year in advance just to get a chance to celebrate there. This proved a very good move – we got to see the ball drop at Time’s Square and the wild one of our bunch directed the after midnight crowd in a Manhatten pub in rounds of Auld Lang Syne.
If only iPhones had been a thing back then! Another pre-selfie New Years that definitely tops my list was merenguing in the year with my favorite Chica and a whole bunch of other crazy Puerto Ricans on a boat in San Juan. Now THEY know how to rumba in the New Year. There have been other New Year Eves I hold dear and memorable because of the gorgeous scenery shared with those dearest to me – fireworks over the Pacific Ocean off the coast of the Big Island and an amazing night with 15 good friends in
a hut on a mountain in the middle of the Alps (though I could have done without the 3 hour uphill hike in knee-deep snow to get there, the starry midnight sky and apricot schnapps were unbeatable).
I’ve had many a great and many a subdued New Year’s Eve. But with the perfect mix of class, culture, tradition and plain fun, New Year’s in Vienna remains my favorite.
- Good Luck Charms – they don’t cost much and stands are over the city. If you don’t
manage to pick up a pig at the street corner, get yourself a couple in the checkout line. Don’t know why someone is giving you a chimney sweep? I got all you need to know in my blog about lucky charms for New Year’s here.
http://www.kcblau.com/goodluck/ and Got Pig? Pigs as Goodluck Charms
- Bleigießen – sometime, after the fondue but before the Glücksfische, you’ve got to check out your fortune for the coming year. Again, I got all you need to know in my blog about that as well.
- Glücksfische – (Good luck fish) – they are actually biscotti and very good and only sold for New Year’s. But before you bite in, be aware that the German on the box that you can’t make heads or tails of is actually giving you instructions about just that – the head and the tail. Because – I kid you not – there is a right way and a wrong way to eat a Glücksfische and if you fail to adhere to the tradition, your Austrian friends might just have a heart attack. And you don’t want that on New Year’s. So eat you fish tail first. That way the luck can’t swim away from you and you keep your Austrian buddies happy.
- Hats – before you go out to join all the other crazy people walking the streets of the first district, make sure you have a good New Year’s hat.Otherwise you will just seem like a dork. And when it comes to hats, anything goes. And no one ever said anything bad about illuminating glasses either. Make a statement with your fashion choice. You’ve been admiring that SPAM hat for years. Now’s your excuse to order it. See more inspiration here: http://reallycrazyhats.weebly.com/crazy-people-hats
- The New Year’s Path in the First District – On New Year’s Eve, the pedestrian zones of the heart of the city fill with colorful banners and stands selling charms, hats, Glühwein and Punsch. Just a warning, maybe you’re like me and the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the word Punsch is that big glass bowl of cherry KoolAid wedged between the chips and pretzels in the cafeteria where the school dance was held. That is not Punsch.
Punsch has more in common with Punch – as in fist – than the KoolAid version. Think of the jello version from college without the jello. And don’t say I didn’t warn you. If you want to make it past midnight, keep away from the Punsch.
- Shiny Happy People Holding Hands – As you merrily skip and dance your way through Vienna’s first district on New Year’s Eve, you will meet tons of other crazy people wearing ridiculous hats and embarrassing glasses. The tables are few and far between and therefore quite conducive to instant international friendships. You buy a round, they buy the next and before you know it, you’re snapping photos together, waltzing and amazed that you
managed to find the funniest people in the entire world, right there at the same table as you who happened to pack some vodka and champagne in their backpack as well. Don’t ever call Austrians unprepared – these people are ready for any emergency situation.
- Stephan’s Bell – At midnight, you won’t hear her but St. Stephan’s Pummerin will ring in the New Year right along with you.
- Waltz – Traditionally at midnight, the “Blue Danube Waltz” plays and everyone waltzes no matter where they are. I’m serious. It’s true. In the streets, living rooms, mountain huts, they’re all waltzing at midnight. It’s in their blood and not just on their airplanes upon landing at VIE. No joke. Not just ballerinas, but the burly Würsterlstand guys, serious-looking Polizei, everyone. And at that point, the Viennese have downed the obligatory glass
of champagne and enough Glühwein to turn a blurry eye (or numb toe) if you Eins Zwei Drei all over their feet during the dance. – listen below to the Blue Danube Waltz and at the end, the announcer will even confirm what I’ve told you.
- Fireworks – there were years when everyone who had two legs and could convince the cashier that he or she was old enough was setting off their own personal pyromaniac shows spectacular enough to rival Michael Jackson’s fiery scenes. The city smelled like a powder keg, and was veiled in such a thick cloud of smoke you thought the fog had set in. This past year, the city cracked down and limited the fireworks being set off in the first district. But that didn’t stop the folks around the rest of the city. Simply grand.
- New Year’s Vienna Symphony Concert – For decades, the Vienna Philharmonic has played “Das Neujahrskonzert” on January 1st featuring music from the Johann Strauss family. The concert is played from the Golden Room of the Vienna
Musikverein and aired in over 90 countries throughout the world. Tickets for the New Year’s Day concert are divvied out by a drawing which people can enter between January and February but before you race to sign up, check out your line of credit. Ticket prices range from 1090 € per ticket for ground floor seating to 310 € for balcony seating to 35 € for standing room.