On New Years Eve I hopped on a train at an ungodly hour to go to the second largest New
Years celebrations in Europe. They say that the party in the 2 km stretch between the Brandenburger Tor and Victory Column hosted over a million people last year and the firework and laser shows the city hosts are some of the best in Europe. Having heard all this hype, there was no way I was going to miss the event.
I arrived in Berlin at around 9 am, made my way to my host mothers house, ate some breakfast, and took a nap. I awoke feeling refreshed and began making my plans for the night. It was advised online that there was no way anyone was getting into the big street party unless they showed up before 9 or 10 pm. Being that I was going out alone, I really didn’t feel like wandering thought such a huge crowd alone for 3 hours.
I ended up heading out last minute and going to Potsdamer Platz (arguably my favorite place in Berlin). I wandered around a bit, snapping pictures of the Christmas decorations that were still up and grabbing a neutella crepe from the Christmas market. Once it got closer to midnight, I started walking north with everyone else to get as close as the crowd would let me to the Brandenburger Tor.
I somehow ended up in the absolute perfect location! I was on a street corner with no obstructed view of the huge fireworks show and I could even see the very top of the laser light show. The countdown caught everyone off guard but far away you could her the chanting of a million voices counting down to the new year. Regardless if our part of town got the countdown or not, the explosion of fireworks made it clear to everyone that the new year had come.
I cracked open a little bottle of champagne I had bought at the supermarket to bring and admired the absolute insanity that was around me. All along the street I was on, people were lighting off their own fireworks, adding to the noise and chaos of the night. The city’s fireworks were absolutely ginormous. Photos cannot do them justice but to give you an idea, I was about 2 km away from where they were setting them off and even then, they were so big that they filled the frame of my camera without having to zoom in at all.
Everything was good during the show. Most people were standing still watching the fireworks or kissing their loved ones. However, the second the show ended, the thousands of people in our little street all started to move in a drunken randomness. There was simply too many inebriated people with explosives to make me feel at ease so I decided to call it a night and head home early.
It was amazing how noisy it was even a half hour outside of the city center. All night the city sounded like a war zone and I mean that quite literally. There are fireworks that do nothing but make a loud boom like a bomb and others that sound like rockets whirring. There are even gun-like fireworks that one fires with a trigger that sound like real gun shots. The types of fireworks that are available and popular in Germany are without a doubt much different from the innocent fountain lights and roman candles that are common in the US. In fact, locals are able to buy the huge fireworks that are only legal (or ridiculously and inaccessibly expensive) for the city to do back home.
Regardless, it was a brief but incredible experience to be a part of such a large crowd and to see such amazing fireworks everywhere. To give you perspective, there were more people (quite possibly twice as many people) in the couple main streets of Berlin than there are people living in Seattle, the largest city in my home state of Washington. The size of Berlin often astounds me and New Years Eve was no exception.
Overall, I highly recommend New Years in Berlin. I hope everyone had fun ringing in the new year and I wish everyone the best for 2017.