One of my favorite things about being a writer is how I’m able to explore a variety of topics for different publications. For example, I’ve been lucky enough to hop around Europe over the last two years and experience club culture in different cities for the music magazines I write for.
So, because New Year’s is just around the corner, I thought I’d put this experience to good use and share my favorite cities to go out in across Europe — including my recommendations of the best parties to hit up this NYE.
Let’s get the most obvious one out the way: I live in Berlin so have a pretty good idea of the Do’s and Don’ts of New Year’s Eve here. Firstly, the rumors are true: German’s love rules. But once the rules are lifted, everyone goes completely wild.
NYE is the only night of the year when it’s legal to set off fireworks (with a couple of new restrictions). That doesn’t mean the city is full of gorgeous, choreographed displays that explode in sparkly waterfalls soundtracked by Katy Perry. It does means that every supermarket, Späti and kiosk sells fireworks to any Tom, Dick or Harry passing by.
In fact, the population turns nearly feral. Fireworks are aimed at passing trams or loved-up couples; they’re fired off monuments and ricochet off statues. The gun-powder frenzy starts early on the 31st and ends when all the fireworks in the city have run out two days later. To be very clear: It’s not safe to walk the streets.
That said, there are places to seek refuge. The clubs will be jam-packed on NYE but the parties run for several days, which means you can be sensible and have a lovely dinner and drinks to see in the New Year, get a good night’s sleep and then head to one of Berlin’s club institutions to dance New Year’s Day away. This year you’ll find fantastic parties at Salon Zur Wilden Renate, Griessmuehle, ://about blank and, as always, Berghain.
One of my best clubbing experiences this year was a night out in Marseille. The city is an unlikely party spot and, with Paris just two hours away, is regularly overlooked as a NYE destination. But this port city has tons to offer: It’s significantly less expensive than the capital and has this kind of underdog vibrancy that radiates from major cities with low tourism.
This New Year’s Eve, head to Trolleybus, a complex of nightclubs in a converted tunnel opposite the port. Once you pay entry, you can go into a selection of clubs that all play different kinds of music. My personal favorite is La dame Noir — a smokey, atmospheric tunnel club that exclusively plays a genre called “Lunar Disco.” That’s basically means slowed-down house and techno (so you can actually dance to it).
Brussels is more than just a political hotbed and a haven for waffle-lovers. This city has wild nightlife and just like Marseille, is often overlooked for the neighboring big boys like Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin. Brussels is lighter on your wallet than its capital-city counterparts and its longest-running electronic music club Fuse has a killer line-up this New Years Eve.
Fuse is a converted cinema with a huge main room that hosts big techno headliners and a smaller, more community-focused room upstairs that champions local Belgian artists. It’s a powerful contender for one of the best clubs in Europe and guaranteed to be an unforgettable night. If you’re looking for something less dazzling and more understated, check out C12, which opened its doors in February 2018 and has fast become one of Belgium’s most respected nightlife institutions.
I grew up in London, way back in the ‘00s when security wasn’t so tight and they’d let me in to all sorts of clubs with a truly unconvincing fake ID. One of my favorites was KOKO, a venue for indie music near the historic Camden Town, which is still a utopia for alt-rock lovers.
In recent years, there’s been plenty of discussion around the UK government’s crackdown on nightlife, but recently many progressive and inclusive event spaces have opened, re-shaping the capital’s club culture and providing a platform for new talent and parties. Electrowerkz, Printworks and E1 are all great examples of boundary-pushing clubs, but my pick for NYE is The Cause.
The club was saved from the brink of closing this year, and the team managed to find a replacement venue just in time. Both locations will be open for their NYE party with a shuttle bus running between the two, so you can have two nights out in one! And if you still have the energy, head to FOLD for their New Year’s Day party. Expect a killer line-up and an unparalleled atmosphere.
The dance music community in Belfast is endlessly passionate about their small yet mighty music scene. Chat to any DJ, promoter or club-enthusiast and their pride will stream out in the form of hilarious anecdotes and bursts of optimism.
The city is still rebuilding itself after the Troubles ended in the ‘90s and, as a result, nightlife remains a DIY passion-project for most people involved. When a well-respected artist comes to Belfast, the community sees it as a personal triumph — a signal to the rest of the world that Belfast’s nightlife is here to stay.
This New Year’s Eve, head to SHINE at The Telegraph Building, a 19th century warehouse that used to print the Belfast Telegraph before it was converted into the city’s largest live music and nightlife venue. If you’re after something a little more low-key, head to Ulster Sports Club, a social club that’s been converted into a cozy and atmospheric mecca for disco, house, garage and more. Ulster’s NYE party will be an absolute belter — and the best part is you‘ll see in the New Year with the kind, hilarious and endlessly energetic Belfast community.