New Year’s Eve is the night of the year that is often the most anticipated, yet also the most difficult to truly enjoy. So, as I’ve said in a previous post, my family decided to start spending NYE in a different city each year to try and put a bit of excitement back into it; 2014/2015 was Paris, and this year, with it being my last spent with them for quite some time, we opted for Edinburgh.
We’d heard many times that the Hogmanay celebrations in Edinburgh were a must see and, because it’s not too far away, it seemed like a good idea. As expected, it turned out to be a great experience and possibly one of the best New Year’s I’ve ever had, but, was it as good as Paris? Both cities are completely different and have their own things to offer. Now, before I write a full post on Edinburgh, I just wanted to make a very quick, very basic comparison of the two and, hopefully, if you’re torn between a couple of places for next year, this may help. (I’d just like to point out that this is from my own experience, and doesn’t generalise).
1. Cost of Accommodation
Of course, like all cities, they both offer great places to stay and poor places to stay; it all depends on what you’re after. Naturally, most prices tend to go up around the holiday season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a bargain, especially if you don’t mind hunting around a bit. As you can imagine, both Edinburgh and Paris prices shoot up during the festivities more than most cities; however, if you don’t mind walking 10mins out from Edinburgh city centre, you can pay as little as £21 per person per night (not as good as a hostel price, but it isn’t bad at all given the time of year). For the same kind of rates in Paris though (again, not hostel rates) you’ll have to walk a good couple of miles and maybe even catch the metro, unless you’re lucky. (Note: book early).
2. The People
I’d been to both cities before spending NYE in them, and I can only say that the atmosphere varies greatly. You can wander around Paris and feel like you’re interrupting a fashion parade: the people of Paris know how the city is seen by the world… and it shows; on the whole you’re greeted with a grin behind gritted teeth. On the other end of the scale; the people of Edinburgh, though proud of their heritage, are a lot more laid back and friendly; don’t be surprised if you’re greeted with a handshake and a drink (I refer to my own experiences of course). As with all those that go out and hit the streets on NYE, inevitably the majority have had a few drinks and are a lot more jovial than usual; this is both a good and a bad thing, no matter which city you’re in. One thing you will find is that the Scots aren’t afraid of having a good time; with Hogmanay celebrations lasting for a couple of days after NYE itself. (Note: opinions are of those that I met, not all of the population).
3. The Night Itself
Now, on a night like NYE, you’d expect both cities to flare up and really bring in the new year; leaving an unforgettable experience. This is only true for one city, and that city is not in France. Of course, there was something amazing about spending the turn of the year underneath the Eiffel Tower, and watching the fireworks engulf the Arc de Triomphe is something a little special, but I think the feeling of being in Paris actually overshadows how Paris celebrates New Year. Sure, Paris is a city of romance, and if you’re a young couple spending NYE together, then there probably isn’t a place greater than the city of lights; it’s just that if you’re not, it can be, well, a bit dull…
In Edinburgh though, the Hogmanay celebrations are something you need to see and, with the many different areas having their own events, you can find something that will suit your idea of a good New Year’s celebration; this varies from small sound stages, the concert in the gardens, to torchlight processions and ceilidh dancing. Edinburgh really does accommodate for everyone including young couples, groups of friends, and even families with children; It just depends on what you want from the night. (Note: the different areas of Edinburgh cost various amounts of money to enter).
4. Food and Drink
This is a tricky one because, being the hugely cultural cities they are, they both boast some incredible restaurants, as well as some very homely and well suited places to find a drink. Paris has wine bars, Edinburgh has whisky bars; fortunately, I enjoy both but, if you’re very specific about your drinking habits, both cities have a wide variety of suitable places. In both cities you can find almost any kind of cuisine if you look hard enough, and almost any drink to go with it. However, one obvious tip: if you’re looking to have a decent evening meal on NYE that isn’t from a street vendor, I strongly suggest booking somewhere at least a day or so in advance (if possible). The price, once more, is tricky. Like any other city, you get what you pay for. Surprisingly, I actually found Paris to be the less expensive of the two; mainly because a glass of wine is generally cheaper than a glass of single malt or a pint of local ale. (Note: most bars in Edinburgh, under Scottish law, won’t allow children in unless you’re eating a meal; this can be a major downer on NYE).
5. Getting Around
Edinburgh is in no way as large as Paris, and this naturally has its upsides and downsides. There is no metro in Edinburgh, and taxis are extortionate around this time of year; so covering a lot of ground in the Scottish capital is normally done by foot. Sure, it may only take 40mins to walk from one side to the other, and you can see a lot of the city by doing so, but if it rains you get p****d wet through with little chance of getting dry. Paris, on the other hand, is a lot larger, and admittedly there is a lot more to see as the city seems to open up in front of you, but it’s easy to cover many miles in Paris in a short space of time and, if in a hurry, you don’t have to squeeze past a crowd of half-cut revellers. Whilst in Edinburgh I was told that on NYE, 750,000 people descended upon the city which, given it’s size and the close vicinity of all the areas, made for an interesting and lengthy walk back home…
(Note: public transport in both cities is free around and after midnight on NYE).
I love both cities, I really do. The problem is that given a choice between where to spend NYE, they both offer very different things depending on your situation. One city is very much geared up to celebrate the new year, the other seems to do it only because it has to. In one city you stand in awe at the beautiful surroundings, in the another you barely stand at all. If I was with friends, I’d choose Edinburgh every time. If I was with a girlfriend, I’d choose Paris every time. If I was with family again, I really would be torn.
If forced; I’d go for Edinburgh. Though it may not be as glamorous or as awe inspiring as Paris, it really is the better way to spend New Year’s Eve. Ok, it may not be the fanciest or the cheapest place to be, but it offers far more than Paris does on the night, which is what matters, right? Sure, if I was comparing the cities as a whole, Paris would more than likely come out on top in my opinion, but this isn’t that comparison. So, if you’re torn between a few places for next year’s celebrations, and these two cities are on the list (they often are on ‘top 10’ lists), decide for yourself on the basic points I made above.
Who knows where we’ll all be next NYE- how exciting is that?
Has anyone else spent NYE in either of these cities? If so, feel free to comment