Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Berlin can be a bit tricky – or at least “challenging”. There are some Berlin traditions and rituals that are probably a little different from those of other cities. So you’d better be prepared if you’re planning to be in Berlin over the turn of the year.
First of all: December 31 is not a public holiday – but January 1 is. So on New Year’s Day or New Year’s Eve, it’s basically business as usual – and basically all stores should be open as if it were a normal weekday. However, some business owners and shopkeepers may decide to close their stores earlier. Especially if December 31 is a bridge day.
And there may also be shortages in grocery stores – even without a bridge day. After all, “everyone” wants to get something quickly. So it may well happen that you can’t find your favorite products when you want to go shopping on the last day of the year.
Berlin’s New Year’s Eve fireworks
Another important detail about New Year’s Eve in Berlin is that some people love to burn / light their very own firework. This may or may not basically include anything and everything from small firecrackers to rockets – swirling, howling, glowing things flying through the air.
Usually the ‘New Year’s Madness‘ begins already in the afternoon / early evening of December 31st – in some areas firecrackers may be heard also prior to that. The ‘hot hour’ would be around midnight. I would strongly recommend to at least try to be where you want to spend your evening a couple of hours before midnight – and stay at least until 1 o’clock.
Things to do on New Year’s Eve in Berlin
Most people will probably either visit friends, or invite people over to their place to celebrate the turn of the year together in some cozy and comfortable atmosphere. These ‘get togethers’ can be small dinner parties with only a couple of people attending, or full blown parties with dozens of party guests showing up.
Most Berlin bars, clubs and restaurants will be open – some will have a special program for the last night of the year. Be sure to check the conditions well in advance – you might want to make a reservation and/or buy tickets well before New Year’s Eve. The same applies to restaurants.
Berlin’s official New Year’s Eve party at Brandenburg Gate
Every year Berlin is hosting a public News Year’s Eve party – one of the world’s largest New Year’s Eve parties – if not the largest New Year’s Eve party. The event takes place ‘downtown’ Berlin-Mitte on an area over two kilometers long, between two renowned landmarks: the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor) and the Victory Column (Siegessäule). Check the official homepage here for updates.
Update: This year (New Year’s Eve 2023/2024) there will be a security fee – and access will be only granted to those holding a ticket. “This security fee will be used to finance the security concept, among other things. Each person can buy a maximum of six tickets for the party at the Brandenburg Gate. The number of tickets is limited to 65,000″
As this is Berlin you are of course allowed to drink alcohol – outside. But be aware: you are not allowed to bring your own bottles. So you better be prepared and either bring that champage in a plastic bottle, or bring enough cash and buy your drinks at one of the many “bar booths” that will be located along the party corridor.
And additionally you should also not bring any fire works. There will be light and laser performances as well as spectacular midnight fireworks provided. And as of 2015/2016 you are also not allowed to bring large bags or backpacks with you – for security reasons.
New Year’s Eve food and drinks
As I mentioned above, in Berlin it is quite common to visits friends on New Year’s Eve. Traditionally most people are having some kind of buffet – potato salad and Wiener sausages are probably on the top list of alomst every New Year’s Eve party.
And people might drink quite some amount of alcohol. Sparkling Wine, Champagne and Crément are a ‘must’.
New Year’s Day food and drinks
Some people may want to begin the new year with some Sparkling Wine, Champagne and Crément – but that’s not for me. Instead I do believe in the ‘fish theory’ and have mayself some Hering and/or Salmon for breakfast. And since almost all shops are closed and basically the hole city is suffering a hangover, there is no reason to leave home. Instead I recommend to have an all–day brunch buffet and see what the TV has to offer.
Getting around: Walking, Taxi, Public Transport
Walking: As I have already mentioned: I wouldn’t recommend walking on a busy street at midnight. In general, be aware of what’s going on around you. People might be throwing firecrackers and/or fireworks at each other – keep your eyes open. If you want to walk, I would recommend setting off well before midnight – and then not heading home until 1am or 2am at the earliest.
Public transport: The good news is that public transport generally runs throughout the night on New Year’s Eve – every 5 to 15 minutes. This applies at least to most subway, S-Bahn and streetcar lines as well as most metro buses. Getting around on public transport on New Year’s Eve should therefore not be a problem.
Cab: Probably the most convenient way to get around on the last night of the year is by cab – but be prepared that you might not be the only one who wants to take a cab. Feel free to read more about TAXI in Berlin.
Bicycle: In general, Berlin is now a relatively bicycle-friendly city. On New Year’s Eve, however, I would strongly advise against riding your bike to and from the party. On the one hand, you have to assume that many streets and cycle paths will be littered with broken glass – on the other hand, you make yourself a target.
And what do people say to each other?
You can say “Guten Rutsch!” in advance – but on News Year’s Eve you would rather say “Frohes Neues Jahr” which would mean “Happy New Year!”. ANd of course you can also say the engish version “Happy New Year!”.
Do you have and thoughts, suggestions, additional recommendations or comments? Please feel free to leave your comment below. Thank you!