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News 31 Dec 15

Ring in the New Year Balkan Style

New Year’s Eve in the Balkans means music, fireworks, food, and more music in city squares under the stars.

BIRN team
Zagreb, Skopje, Sarajevo, Budva, Tirana, Sofia, Bucharest

From Zagreb to Tirana, Balkan cities are hosting open-air music festivals featuring regional and international stars to ring in the New Year.


Belgrade starts celebrating early this year. Starting on December 29, the city hosts four days of concerts in front the National Assembly.

Belgrade visitors can greet the New Year with a concert by folk superstar Lepa Brena as well as a concert by actor Steven Seagal’s Blues Band. Tropico is also set to play on New Year’s Eve.


Photo: BIRN/Sven Milekic

Zagreb’s main New Year's festivities take place on the central Josip Jelacic Square under an open sky with fireworks and music stages.This year’s celebration centerson Croatian musicians, with pop singer Nina Badric and rock band Vatra (Croatian for fire) appearing alongside rising new Croatian pop and rock bands.

Music is everywhere. The pop group Detour will perform on European Square, while on Tomiceva Street, near an old funicular, rock band Ljetnokino (Croatian for open-air summer cinema) performs their hits. In nearby Zrinjevac Park, the central pavilion will host classic rock band Zocioni and the pop band All Stars and Tena.

New Year’s is just a part of theweeks long ‘Zagreb Advent’ program celebrating the holiday season. Throughout the festival, open-air events are held regularly in the city centre, including art exhibits, ice-skating rinks and a Christmas fair.

Aside from official events, numerous clubs, hotels and restaurants in Zagreb host celebrations with either live music or DJs.


Photo: Robert Atanasovski

For a third year running, thanks to political feuds in Skopje, partygoers in the Macedonian capital can choose between two parallel New Year's Eve celebrations staged only meters apart from each other.

The first, and likely larger party of the two is being hosted by the City of Skopje. The focus is on a traditional mix of local folk and pop artists appearing at the main Macedonia square. 

The second celebration will take place at the nearby Jadran Square. Although organizers Skopje’s Centar municipality did not reveal the artists planned to appear on stage either, the party offers an alternative for those preferring a more international selection of rock n' roll performers.

The two parallel parties reflect a deep political rift that has sprung up between the city, led by mayor Koce Trajanovski, and Centar municipality, which in 2013 elected a new opposition mayor, Andrej Zernovski,.


Photo: Facebook

The National Philarmonic will play the traditional concert at the National Theater in Sarajevo at 7pm. The program contains waltz, march, polka, overtures of Strauss, Rossini, Saint Saens, Sarasate, Piazzolla, Molinelli. New year’s parties will also be held in all the main clubs of the city (Club monument, Cinema Sloga, Underground, Coloseum Club).

The main city of Republika Srpska, Banja Luka, has already published the program for the official New Year’s Eve concert celebration. The festivities start at 7pm and last until 1:30am in the city main square. The concert features Moondance, Vanja Misic, Nair and Sladjana Zrnic.


 Photo: montenegro360.me

With a tradition of throwing big parties and concerts, Montenegro's resort of Budva is one of region’s favorite New Year’s spots. This year is no different: Budva plans to celebrate the start of 2016 over five days with music, food and fun.

The programme kicks off on December 31 at 9.30pm at the square next to Budva’s Old Town with a show by Montenegrin band Perper, while singer Zdravko Colic will ring in the New Year with a midnight show. 

On New Year’s Day, the tempo will be quieter with classical music, courtesy of the Mediterranean Festival Orchestra. During the evening, other musicians from the region will be performing, including Croatia’s Gibboni.

On January, locals and visitors have an opportunity to listen to another popular regional performer, Viva Vox choir. They will be kicking off on stage at 11pm.

If you are not a fan of such outdoor activities, see the old year out and the New Year in at one of Budva’s many clubs, bars and restaurants. Make sure to book both your hotel and New Year’s Eve venue on time. And be ready to pay a bit more than usual, as the lowest price for an evening’s fun is usually around €70.


Photo: BIRN

As Tirana elected a new mayor this year, the New Year eve will be celebrated with some changes compared with the previous years. For the first time in the Albanian capital, the mayor and the citizens will do the traditional 'countdown' in the 'Mother Teresa' square while waiting the New Year. Fireworks will take place after that.

On the other hand, a concert with the best names in Albanian music will go on at the square in the night of December 31st. Artists from Kosovo are also expected to perform.
Throughout December, "Mother Teresa" square is a center of holiday celebrations not to be missed. People take pictures in front of the big Christmas tree, drink warm mulled wineand ice skate in the ice rink.


Photo: Flickr/lyura183

Sofia’s traditional New Year’s Eve concert “A Scene Under the Stars”, featuring beloved Bulgarian artists and celebrities, takes place at the main square Alexander I. Come early as the event attracts nearly 20,000 people every year.

Popular pop singers Michaela Fileva, Orlin Pavlov, Divna and Preya, and hip hop star Billy the Kid top the line up this year. The program also includes traditional folk music, dances and fireworks. The concert starts at 10pm on 31 December and ends after 1.20am on 1st January 2016.

The National Palace of Culture is hosting an annual New Year’s celebration recreating the atmosphere of three of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities: Paris, New York and Istanbul.Veterans of the Bulgarian pop scene Lilly Ivanova and Vassil Naydenov, the American rapper NANA, Milenita, and others will perform.

Among the parties fans of the club scene can choose between are the Metropolis Hello 2016 party with Julian Jewel (FR), WHYT NOYZ (UK) and the Metropolis DJs from Bulgaria and the New Year’s Eve celebration with Danny Howells in the cult house club Yalta.

If you don’t fancy big parties, you can always have a quick drive to the nearby Vitoshamountain, where you can have a glass of champagne while watching the fireworks over the city.


Photo: hotnews.ro

With New Year just around the corner, many people in Bucharest have already started arranging spectacular New Year’s celebrations.

There are downtown street parties organized by Bucharest City Hall, and most people go there at midnight to attend a live music concert and watch a fireworks display.

Others spend the time in one of the many restaurants and hotels offering special programs or all-night parties for New Year’s Eve. Most are already booked up and offer live performances, food and drinks.

Visitors shouldn’t miss Bucharest’s brilliant Christmas lights, lit up since December 1st . The breathtaking display cost about €2.3 million this year and will be up until after the New Year.

Sven Milekic, Sinisa Jakov Marusic, Rodolfo Toe, Dusica Tomovic, FatjonaMedini, Maria Cheresheva and Marian Chiriac contributed to this text.


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