Vienna Launches New Year's Eve Offerings

Vienna Tourist Board has announced a mixture of events to celebrate New Year's Eve in Vienna. The New Year's Eve Trail provides the guide by pointing the way from one attraction to the next, with the trail stopping on the stroke of midnight when the “Pummerin” bell in St. Stephen's Cathedral marks the New Year, before the revelers continue to party.

New Year’s Eve in Vienna is actually an enactment of an established tradition. In the fourth century, Pope Silvester is said to have tried to purge the new Christian church of heathen customs by “driving the evil away” through noise. This continues to be practiced now, with the New Year heralded in with pyrotechnics, firecrackers and loud bangs to make sure it is free of dark spirits.

The New Year’s Eve Trail features “stopping off for sparkling wine, punch and snacks as they make their way from one attraction to the next, from City Hall to Teinfaltstrasse, Freyung and Hoher Markt”. There are marquees, live performances and entertainment in the Opera House, the Giant Ferris Wheel at the Prater, and along the Ring boulevard, among others.

DDSG Blue Danube also offers boat trips on the river where passengers can celebrate.

As midnight approaches, the masses migrate towards St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Just before the old year comes to an end, the countdown begins, culminating in the chimes of the “Pummerin” from the cathedral bell tower, to the accompaniment of Strauss’ Blue Danube Waltz as midnight passes.

Yet other attractions are the ball “Le Grand Bal" in the Hofburg ballroom, a gala dinner complete with a night of waltzing and performances by Austrian performers; and the New Year’s Gala in the Festsaal of Vienna’s City Hall. Music will be provided by the Wiener Symphoniker, Wiener Hofburgorchester and Wiener Ring-Ensemble, the Strauss Festival Orchestra and the Wiener Residenzorchester, among others.

Still another attraction is the New Year’s Day Concert by the Vienna Philharmonic. First staged in 1941, it has been conducted by the likes of Zubin Mehta, Lorin Maazel, Riccardo Muti, Seiji Ozawa, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Georges Prêtre and Daniel Barenboim.

The New Year’s Trail is open from December 31, 2012 to January 1, 2013; the New Year’s Run on December 31; the DDSG Blue Danube on December 31; and the Le Grand Bal also on December 31.

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