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I often find that New Years Eve can be hit or miss. It’s either an unforgettable night or a big let down. For New Years 2013 I was invited to one of my favourite cities-Dublin-for a four day extravaganza packed with festivities. It turned out to be my best New Years Eve yet!
Dublin city centre was transformed into a giant party zone for an event dubbed The Ultimate Gathering to mark the end of The Gathering 2013- a series of around 5,000 events celebrating Irish culture. I love Ireland because I just love the warmth, humour and friendliness of the people, so I was more than happy to ring in the New Year here.
Dec 29th: The Leopardstown Races
I flew into Dublin from Manchester and headed straight for the Leopardstown racecourse just outside of Dublin, to soak up the atmosphere on the final day of their Christmas racing festival. I love a good day at the races so I was excited to have a ‘flutter on the gee gees’ as we would say up North. We watched the races from the Panoramic Suite, where we also enjoyed a lunch of roast beef, cabbage, carrots, potatoes and a crispy Yorkshire pudding. I arrived just in time for the Ryanair Hurdle, but was torn between whether to bet on the favourite- Hurricane Fly– because I liked the name, or go for another horse. Since the odds were so low for Hurricane Fly I dropped a fiver on Our Conor, but unfortunately the favourite won! Another glass of wine please…
We took a little tour around the racecourse and saw the trophies being presented to the winners, then watched another horse race from ground level. It’s rather cold with a brisk wind at this time of year so I advise you to wrap up warm!
Following the racing there was a live concert headlined by Mary Black and Finbar Furey- two long time favourites on the Irish music scene.
Dec 30th: Lunch on a Big Blue Bus
The following day we went to the Little Museum of Dublin, which definitely one of the city’s hidden gems. Located on the first floor of a Georgian building, it feels like you’ve stepped into someone’s living room, but it is in fact a museum filled with artefacts documenting the story of Dublin in the 20th century. There is also a new U2 exhibit charting the band’s rise to fame, and one of the quotes made me laugh:
In America, you look up at the mansion on the hill and say, ‘One day that could be me.’ In Ireland they look up at the mansion on the hill and go, ‘One day I’m gonna get that bastard.’ – Bono
For lunch we went to The Bernard Shaw for a very unique experience- lunch on a Big Blue Bus! We tucked into thin crust pizzas on the top deck of an old bus and washed it down with a couple of pints of Guinness…naturally. The menu tells the story of the Big Blue Bus:
“I started life carting Cockneys around London. Soon I was whisked off to Ireland where film crews horsed tea and sambo’s into themselves on my upper deck. But it wasn’t long before I was battered, bruised and on a collision course with the scrapyard. Johnny the Wicklow Hillbilly saved me, driving me from Donegal back to Roundwood with no brakes and smoking at least 47 Johnny Blues en route. Johnny lovingly transmogrified me into Big Blue- the best mobile pizzeria this side of Vesuvius.”
That evening we chowed down on gourmet cuisine at the Pig’s Ear, then visited The Sugar Club for their New Years Thieves event, hosted by hosted by Donal Dineen with Dublin based music blogger Nialler9 curating music. From the name I thought it would be a nightclub, but it is in fact a theatre with banquette seating and a main stage. We listened to live music and some people volunteered to have their faces painted to look like burglars.
The People’s Procession of Light
For me, the People’s Procession of Light was the highlight of New Years Eve. To kick off the evening we enjoyed some mince pies and mulled wine at The Fitzwilliam Hotel, where we also got to have our photo taken with the Lord Mayor. We commented that his big chain made him look like a rapper!
Next up we collected our lanterns and got into position for the start of the procession, before making our way through the streets of Dublin. There was a big group of adorable kids in scout uniforms behind us and every so often they would scream “Happy New Year! ” at the top of their lungs.
The procession culminated in one of the most stunning displays I’ve seen in a long time…two aerial dancers from the Fidget Feet aerial dance theatre company were suspended from a crane above us. The lady was wearing what looked like a beautiful angel costume and they floated around in the night sky with white silks to music. At the end of the performance, the sky erupted with confetti, marking the end of the People’s Procession.
The Countdown Concert
After the People’s Procession of Light we made our way to the tourism office for some light refreshments including the biggest cheese selection I’ve ever seen! Me and my fellow partygoers donned funny accessories and stumbled into the photobooth for a few photos…with some hilarious results! Not wanting to miss out on all the NYE action, we bundled up in our winter coats to walk to College Green, with a pit stop in O’Neills bar for a whisky or two on the way.
The Countdown Concert was headlined by Madness (think House of Fun and Our House) and there were several other acts over the course of the evening, including MKS (Mutkya, Keisha, and Siobhan- the founding members of the Sugababes), The Strypes, Ryan Sheridan and Youtube sensations Seo Lyn. College Green was jam-packed with people and the whole place was buzzing!
5,4,3,2,1…HAPPY NEW YEAR!
The fireworks lit up the sky, signalling the start of 2014. We hugged, we danced and we sang Auld Lang Syne at the top of our lungs.
After the Countdown Concert we ventured to the Liquor Rooms, which was conveniently located right next to our hotel. The bar has a sort of speakeasy vibe and I was happy to put my trust in the bartender to surprise me with a cocktail based on my liquor preference. Definitely worth a visit if you get the chance!
Where I Stayed
I stayed at The Clarence Hotel, which is part-owned by none other than U2 legend, Bono. The hotel is conveniently located right on the River Liffey and is just a stone’s throw from the Temple Bar area, so it was only a short walk from all the New Years Eve action. The best part about my stay was the breakfast in the morning- there’s nothing like a full Irish breakfast after a bit too much craic the night before!
The New Years Eve trip to Dublin was organised by Tourism Ireland. For more info about celebrating New Years Eve in Dublin check out the Visit Dublin website. Opinions expressed in this post are my own.