Top five New Year breaks

With just three weeks until New Year’s Eve, you may be starting to feel the pressure to find somewhere special to celebrate the start of 2013.

But rather than panic-booking an over-priced night out in a bar or club near you, why not use your time off over the festive period to get away from it all? You could even treat someone special to a short break for New Year as a Christmas present – after all, a recent poll on MoneySupermarket revealed that 27% of Brits would most like to receive a holiday as a gift this Christmas.

And, there are still deals out there if you act fast. Here we offer our top five picks for this New Year and offer tips on saving money on your break.

1. Drink bubbles in Barcelona

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If you enjoy city breaks, why not complement your New Year celebrations with a long weekend away in Barcelona?

You could explore sights such as Gaudi’s spectacular La Sagrada Familia and dip in and out of the world-class museums and galleries by day then work your way around the buzzing tapas bars by night.

As with any other celebration, the Spaniards know how to party on New Year’s Eve. So, if you want to join the local festivities, head to one of the city’s big squares before midnight – the main celebrations take place in Plaça de Catalunya. A Spanish tradition as the New Year arrives is to eat one grape on every chime up until midnight – and if you finish all 12, it’s believed that you’ll have a year of luck and prosperity.

Alternatively, book into one of the city’s many restaurants or join your hotel’s celebrations and celebrate at midnight with a glass of cava.

We found three-night breaks in Barcelona, including flights from Stansted and a stay in a minimum of a four-star hotel, for as little as £284 per person (departing on December 30).

 

2. Party in London – the “Celebration capital of the world”

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Where could be better to celebrate the end of a great year in England than our own capital? Having enjoyed worldwide attention during the Olympic and the Paralympic Games, as well as during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, London has had a fabulous year.

And there’s plenty going on there to welcome in 2013 whether you want to visit with friends for a wild night out, as a couple or as a family.

One option is to head to the Thames to watch the world-famous firework display next to the London Eye. But be sure to wrap up warm and to arrive early to get your spot – viewing zones will be closed off as soon as they reach full capacity and this can be as early as 9/10pm.

If, however, you’d rather be partying indoors when Big Ben’s midnight chimes begin, you will be spoilt for choice by the nights being held in clubs, bars and pubs across the city. Check, however, whether you need to buy a ticket for your venue in advance so you don’t end up disappointed.

Families can have plenty of fun over the New Year period in London too. There are more than 250 free attractions on offer to visitors, the festive outdoor ice-skating rinks will still be open and you’ll be able to catch the end of the January sales in shops across the city.

And, all of the family will enjoy watching the New Year’s Day Parade which starts at 11.45am at The Ritz hotel and ends in front of Big Ben. This year’s theme is “Hats off to London – the celebration capital of the world” and you can find out more about it on Visit London’s site.

There are still deals available in London hotels too, even if you are after a spot of luxury. For example, when we looked, we found prices from £308 for a two-night stay in a five-star hotel in central London from December 31-January 2 and two nights in four-star accommodation from just £180.

3. Enjoy Hogmanay in Edinburgh

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Edinburgh’s Hogmanay festivities are some of the world’s most popular New Year celebrations and people come from all over the globe to party and watch the fireworks in the city centre’s streets. The good news if you want to be one of the 80,000 revellers is that there are still tickets left – but book soon. Tickets to the street party cost £15 plus a booking fee and can be bought here.

The street party is just one of the events in the city centre too - there’s also the Concert in the Gardens headlined by Simple Minds (with limited availability), a keilidh and a candlelit classic concert in St Giles’ Cathedral.

And, if you’re after a more active break, there’s a New Year’s Day triathlon (entries close on December 17 and the event is free for spectators) as well as the New Year’s Day Loony Dook, where those who are brave enough take a breath-taking dip in the River Forth.

If you fancy joining in the Scottish city’s celebrations, we found two-night hotel stays (from December 31) from as little as £158. But, be sure to book soon to have the best choice of what is left.

4. Be showered in confetti in New York

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If you want a truly memorable New Year and have the budget to venture slightly further afield, New York should definitely be on your must-visit list.

A short break will allow you to see the city that never sleeps at a magical time of year – you can visit the Rockerfeller Centre ice rink, go for an exhilarating winter walk in Central Park and hit the sales in the city’s legendary shops.

And you’ll be spoilt for choice when deciding where to mark the end of 2012. You could head to the huge celebrations in Times Square and join around one million others to watch the live celebrations and fireworks, and be showered in confetti when the clock strikes midnight. Be warned though, you’ll have to arrive early to get a good spot.

Alternatively, join one of the other celebrations taking place across the city from club nights and concerts, to events taking place in the city’s hotels and restaurants.

If you’d love to go to New York, don’t rule it out as too expensive until you’ve looked around for deals. When we looked, we found five-night breaks, departing on December 29 from London Heathrow, for as little as £832 per person.

Plus, TravelSupermarket is currently running a competition where you could win a five-star trip to New York plus up to $5,000 spending money. Find out more here.

5. Hire a cottage and throw your own party

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New Year can be a tricky event to involve the kids in, so why not book a cottage in the countryside and enjoy celebrating together as a family?

If you go as a group, this a really affordable option – for example, we took a look for cottages for a group of six staying in the Lake District for a week from December 26 and found prices for as little as £12 a night per person.

This could also be a great option if you want to have a night in with your friends to celebrate the start of 2013. You could get away from it all and have a big dinner party on December 31 – this way you can control your food and drink costs. Then clear your heads the next morning with a refreshing walk in the Great British countryside.

Find the perfect holiday cottage for you here.

Our top tips to keep down the cost of New Year:

  • Be as flexible as possible with your dates. If you can leave a day later or fly home a day earlier, significant savings could be made. TravelSupermarket’s holiday tool allows you to compare prices over a seven-day period in one search.
  • Beware false economies – for example, staying 10 miles outside the city centre of your destination as the accommodation is cheaper and then paying what you saved on transport to and from attractions.
  • If you are travelling within the UK, don’t leave it until the last minute to buy your train tickets. You can still snap up reduced advance fares even the night before you travel, so get online to find the cheapest tickets now.

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing.

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