Travelling

Why Dublin is the perfect place to be on New Year’s Eve

Dublin finishes the year with an Irish Hogmanay-on-Liffey

Dublin finishes the year with an Irish Hogmanay-on-Liffey

Credit:
PA

  • Neil Hegarty,

    Destination expert

21 December 2016 • 12:30pm

Dublin for New Year? There was a time when such a phrase would not, perhaps, trip so lightly off the tongue: the Christmas build-up collapsing into a frenzy of holiday sales, boozing – and frankly, not much else.

The Irish capital, though, has learned a thing or two in the course of the last few years. To be sure, the stag and hen parties which blighted the city’s reputation haven’t gone away – but happily, you’re not likely to see them over the New Year period.

A photo posted by NYF Dublin (@nyfdublin) on Oct 20, 2016 at 1:59pm PDT

  • Dublin travel guide

And in addition, Dublin has learned to harness the sociability which is at the heart of the city’s character – and put it to the best and most convivial of uses. The result is impressive and attractive: an Irish Hogmanay-on-Liffey, taking place at venues across Dublin’s compact and eminently walkable city centre.

Cue New Year Festival Dublin (nyfdublin.com), which runs from December 30 to January 1. The festival, centred on Dame Street in the south city centre, has been in existence now for five years, developing and expanding in colour and confidence with each edition. Best of all, it’s recognisably and emphatically Irish in tone, showcasing local music, arts and of course food, in case you haven’t eaten enough over Christmas.

Get a rare insight into the real ‘hidden’ histories of the South Side @chtmdublin 30 Dec! https://t.co/BGElF1bWKi #LoveDublin pic.twitter.com/NH8Ztr3M2n

— NYFDublin (@NYFDublin) December 20, 2016

  • A weekend in… Dublin

One high point for me comes with sunset and the beginning of the free Luminosity show (from 5pm daily), in which aspects of Irish culture, history and modern life play in 3D animation across the facades of some of Dublin’s most historic buildings.

Top tip here: make your way to College Green and watch the light show on the great West Front of Trinity College.

New Year’s Eve itself sees the Procession of Light. This impressive event draws thousands of spectators every year: the glimmering, lantern-roofed parade makes for an enchanting spectacle as it wends its way from St Stephen’s Green up to Dublin Castle. It’s the perfect antidote to shopping frenzy – and is especially good for children.

A photo posted by NYF Dublin (@nyfdublin) on Dec 28, 2014 at 8:07am PST

  • Festive hotels for Christmas and New Year

Later in the evening, the approach to 2017 begins with the Countdown Concert (St Stephen’s Green from 8pm; €27.90 (£23.50); headlined by Walking on Cars with special guests The Blizzards), while New Year’s Day entails a free concert featuring the Dublin Gospel Choir (said to be the only act to collaborate with a diverse range of artists from Stevie Wonder and Rod Stewart to Take That).

Or you can go along for free to Christ Church Cathedral (christchurchcathedral.ie). Dubliners have for generation gathered here at midnight for the splendid ringing of the cathedral’s carillon of nineteen bells: a traditional and beautifully atmospheric way to see in the New Year. When in Dublin…

Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin

Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin

Credit:
AP

These few days over the New Year period also provide an excellent opportunity to explore Dublin at the grassroots. Ireland, like Britain, offers free entry to its principal museums: other sights, however, change admission – and the New Year Festival’s Love Dublin strand offers a range of discounts on some of the newest and best; see the website for specific information.

One of my favourite of these attractions is the Little Museum of Dublin (littlemuseum.ie), a gem of a place housed in a beautiful Georgian townhouse on the north side of St Stephen’s Green, and filled with material and items – donated by the public, for the most part – which tell a vivid story of twentieth-century Dublin. This is history at its most captivating and human. Hatch & Sons (hatchandsons.co) is the museum’s handsome basement café: sample an excellent coffee and a blaa, a soft white roll from County Waterford filled with – well, with your heart’s desire. Round off your exploration of this corner of the city with a visit to Ely (elywinebar.ie), one of the best places in town for wine, beer and smart food.

  • East Coast Ireland travel guide

Teeling’s (teelingwhiskey.com) is a new kid on the block from last year. While the superb Guinness Storehouse (Guinness-storehouse.com) remains Ireland’s most popular visitor attraction, Teeling’s – as the first new whiskey distillery to open in Ireland in over a century – merits New Year attention. Even if you’re not a whiskey fan, it’s an absorbing tour and you’ll emerge determined never to drink a drop of Scotch again.

A photo posted by Teeling Whiskey (@teeling_whiskey) on Nov 23, 2016 at 4:30am PST

While at one time many businesses closed for the post-Christmas fall-off-the-cliff, many are now open on New Year’s Day, including several of the city’s attractions such as the National Museum of Ireland and the National Gallery of Ireland, among others. See a full list of visitor attractions open on New Year’s Day here.

Dublin’s diminutive size comes into its own at such moments: after a spot of New Year’s Eve grazing and shopping, slip around the corner to the wine cellar at Fallon and Byrne (fallonandbyrne.com) for a choice of 600 wines accompanied by cheese, smoked fish or charcuterie boards. Or try Peruke and Periwig (peruke.ie) for equally flexible eating and drinking in quaintly rickety surroundings. From here, the ringing bells of Christ Church are a mere stroll away: not a bad means of waving goodbye to 2016.

Explore the expanses of Dublin's Phoenix Park on New Year's Day

Explore the expanses of Dublin’s Phoenix Park on New Year’s Day

Credit:
AP

  • On the trail of W. B. Yeats

If you need the cobwebs blown away the following morning, jump on the DART train (irishrail.ie; buy a LEAP card for around a fiver at any station) for the 30-minute ride to the seaside and walk the great granite walls of Dún Laoghaire pier (dunlaoghaire.ie/dun-laoghaire-pier).

Alternatively, explore the great expanses of the Phoenix Park (phoenixpark.ie), one of the largest in Europe: here, you can shadow the park’s own herds of red deer, visit Dublin Zoo (dublinzoo.ie) – and make some New Year resolutions you’re simply bound to keep.

Where to stay

The Dean has a flexible range of comfortable rooms in the heart of the city (00 353 1 607 8110 deandublin.ie)

The Dean

The Dean

Credit:
Copyright: Leo Byrne/Photographer: Leo Byrne

The characterful Schoolhouse has a quiet location by the Grand Canal (00 353 1 667 5014; schoolhousehotel.com).

The Schoolhouse hotel

The Schoolhouse hotel

Number 31 is a perfect luxury guesthouse – part Georgian townhouse, part modernist mews, in the heart of town (number31.ie).

The Merrion is a luxury Dublin hotel offering spacious rooms and excellent service (00 353 1 603 0600; merrionhotel.com).

The Merrion

The Merrion

The Intercontinental is a family-friendly Dublin hotel with elegant bedrooms, a lovely garden courtyard and excellent service; try the new Seasons restaurant here for excellent modern Irish cooking (00 353 1 665 4000; intercontinentaldublin.ie).

The Intercontinental in Dublin

The Intercontinental in Dublin

For full reviews of my other recommended hotels in Dublin, see telegraph.co.uk/dublinhotels.

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SOURCE:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/europe/ireland/dublin/articles/How-to-spend-New-Year-in-Dublin/