It's that time of year again, but this time around make sure you're prepared for it. Don't make the mistake of finding yourself stuck on New Year's Eve with nowhere to go - a sad bottle of cheap champagne in hand. Not this year, not again. Take your pick from our helpful guide to some of the Baltic capitals' best events and you'll be sure to get off to a great start in 2006.
TALLINN: Some like it classy, some like it hot.
You don't have to be pretentious to enjoy a New Years Eve at Estonia's Concert Hall, you just have to put up with pretension. This year, the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra will present "Hennessy New Year's Concert" with St. Petersburg's formidable violinist Sergei Dogadin. The Russian's inspiring talent will have you jotting down "take violin lessons" on your New Year's resolution list. The Dec. 31st program includes Rossini's overture to "The Barber of Seville," Mendelssohn's "Violin Concerto in E minor and Mozart's "Symphony no 41 in C Major." It doesn't get more classical than that. And after the concert, when Tallinn's lords and ladies gather in the foyer for a midnight toast, assume you're most affected posh accent and greet your neighbor with a regal "Auld Lang Syne" - the more theatrical the better. After all, it's New Year's.
Hennessy New Year's Concert
Estonian Concert Hall
More info: www.concert.ee
Tallinn's Reval Hotel Olympia has never shied from New Year's, and rumor has it their party is one of the city's best. Although the hotel rooms are surely booked, that's never stopped the avid partygoer. In all the late night, blurry-eyed countdown chaos, we're sure you can slip into the hotel's banquet for a few hours of holiday revelry. So here's a quick gloss-over: The lobby bar will vibrate with urban DJ rhythms, Senso Restaurant will offer a live New Year's countdown broadcast followed by a gigantic cake, JZ Bell will liven up the Bonnie & Clyde nightclub with disco until daybreak, while Alfa Hall will be packed with people dancing and singing along with Anne Veski & Karavan. On top of all this, there will be the essential midnight toast, hours of drinking, plates of food, the occasional drunken shenanigan, a surprise appearance by Santa Claus and competitions, games and drawings. If that's not enough New Year's for you, we don't know what is.
Reval Hotel Olympia
Tel: (372) 631-5650
RIGA: A night in the city, a morning by the sea
If staying home on New Year's Eve isn't your idea of living "la vida loca," then head to Riga's popular club La Rocca. A hot-spot for the young and the restless, La Rocca will probably be the city's wildest New Year's venue. The club offers almost every party essential: two disco halls, a casino, a restaurant and even a sauna, although TBT recommends the quaint countryside sauna to this very public option, for reasons we'd rather not mention. Nevertheless, each room will have a unique entertainment program, which is being kept secret until the awaited night arrives. But do remember, this is the closest Riga comes to clubbing - in every sense of the word. If you're still not sure what we mean by this, ask a local.
Tel: (372) 750-6030
There's no better way to take in the New Year than a few hours of existential self-reflection by the sea. And well, if you ignore the blaring music, drunken singing, fireworks and subsequent car alarms, then Jurmala's Baltic Beach Hotel is just the place. This year the hotel has booked some of Latvia's hottest musicians: Marie N., winner of Eurovision 2002 and one of the nation's pop-star idols, Intars Busulis, who carries this year's New Wave music competition title, the popular Rock 'n Roll band "Keksi" and more. Then ease off that New Year's morning hangover with a seawater bath, or better yet a traditional Latvian sauna. This year, forget the city. Escape to Jurmala, find yourself a secluded grassy sand dune and mull over Charles Lamb's deeply perceptive words: "No one ever regarded the first of January with indifference. It is that from which all date their time, and count upon what is left. It is the nativity of our common Adam."
Baltic Beach Hotel
Tel: (371) 777-1400
VILNIUS: New Year's Eve in the center of Europe
If you're looking for the traditional public New Year's celebration, layer up and head to Cathedral Square. It's amazing how Lithuanians flock en masse to this traditional spot every year. A couple hours before the 12 o'clock countdown, thousands of people waddle like penguins in the direction of the Cathedral. The crowd is so thick you can barely raise your arm to clink champagne glasses. Then, some 15 or so minutes after midnight, the herd slowly dodders away, back to their dwellings. If you're out to experience the madness of locals, Cathedral Square is the place: singing, dancing, glasses of cheap champagne offered by total strangers, kisses offered by total strangers and the occasional burp in the face. Before you go, learn a few lines of Lithuania's traditional New Year's song, "Ilgiausiu Metu Ilgiausiu," so you can howl along with the rest of the herd come midnight.
Club New York has organized an uproarious show exclusively designed for New Year's. The colorful and glitzy program brings together the most popular seasonal songs in rock 'n roll and samba, plus some of Lithuania's most recognizable voices, such as Ruta Sciogolevaite, Lina Rasto-kaite, and Saules Kliosas. The setting, a creepy "masterpiece" of Stalinist-style architecture, only adds to the night. Most people will love this retro Pergale movie theater. The gigantic cinema hasn't changed much over the years, and still boasts authentic chandeliers, grim wallpaper and an exclusive balcony for the Communist Party heads and their heavies. Those who frequented the cinema decades ago say the only difference between then and now is that the venue's actually heated these days and the surfaces dusted down. But don't let the excessive Soviet decor get to you - it's just light-hearted fun. After a few drinks, you might even forget if it's New Year's 2006 or 1976. S novym godom! o
Revue New Year's Cocktail
Club New York