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Munich is a relatively calm, safe and quiet city. There are a few allotted times a year when the city erupts into madness and the Germans allow themselves to go crazy, and crazy they go. Those times are Oktoberfest and New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Eve in Munich is unlike any other day of the year. Families and party-goers alike take to the streets to party or ring in the New Year at 72 hour benders inside a rave. If you are reading this in December 2019 then Munich has changed a lot. In previous years every and anyone would shoot of fireworks in the streets making it an all out war zone. To be honest it was a bit of a turn off for me after I had fireworks intentionally shot at me while walking to a club. Things are changing in 2019 though as Munich slowly implements a stricter policy on personal and street fireworks and channels the energy into a structured firework display. Either way locals love to get wild on NYE so be prepared for anything. So, if you’re ready to brave the crazy streets of Munich during New Year’s Eve, or even just want a quiet night at home or in your hotel room, then I have you covered for all the best things to do in Munich on New Year’s Even, and how to celebrate like the locals.
If you’re having a hard time finding New Year’s Eve parties it is because here in Munich and Germany we say, Silvester. Silvester, like most things in Munich, has religious roots. St. Silvester was noted for reforming the Gregorian calendar which had December 31st as the last day of the year. So, it seemed like a perfect fit that the last day of the year should be named after him. It is also common to see it spelled Sylvester. So, to help you search for things use ABC Silvester/NYE Party.
Say Happy New Year in German
To confuse things even more, if you want to wish someone a happy New Year in German you say, “Guten Rutsch!” (Goo- ten Root-sch). In a loose translation to English, it means, “Have a good slide into the New Year!” However, it has Yiddish roots from the word Rosch, which means beginning. You can also directly translate Happy New Year to “Frohes Neues Jahr” (Fro – hes Noi-es Yar).
Silvester Traditions in Munich
If you’re a homebody and want to avoid the crazy parties in Munich, make sure you have a copy of the British comedy from 1963 called “Dinner for One.” It has been a German New Year tradition since the 70s.
If you are brave enough to hit the town on Silvester in Munich friends often exchange good luck charms such as four-leaf clovers and horseshoes, so if you’re looking for a nice gift for the host of your party bring a good luck charm and a nice bottle of wine.
Where to Watch Fireworks in Munich
But if fireworks are your thing and you want to find the best places in Munich to watch New Year’s Eve fireworks then these are your top choices.
Olympiapark: is outside the main city, but with a high vantage point, it is a great location to watch the fireworks, popular among locals. Bundle up and climb the Olympiaberg for the best views of the city.
Luitpoldpark: Just below Olympiapark is Luitpoldpark. In the park, there is a nice overview of the city from the highest vantage point. It isn’t huge, so you might be competing for space, but anywhere in the park is a nice spot to enjoy the city fireworks.
Along the Isar River: The banks of the Isar are a great spot to ring in the New Year. Plenty of locals will be having an outdoor party you can join in on. If you want to get up a bit higher than head to any of the bridges such as Ludwigsbrucke, Maximilianbrucke, or Luidpoldbrucke near the Fridensengel are all great options.
Therienwiesen: The Oktoberfest grounds have a bit of a reputation for being party central on New Year’s Eve, while the gated event at Tollwood is happening next door where fireworks are not allowed, but if you head to the Bavaria statue for a vantage point you should be able to see fireworks. A word of the wise, last time I went here a few years ago it was basically a war zone with people shooting off their own fireworks and I could see nothing but smoke.
Hackerbrucke: A popular place to watch the sunset the bridge going over Munich’s train tracks offers vantage points over the city and on-coming trains.
Places to Avoid: I’ve come across a few tips saying head to Nymphenberger Palace or other palaces for a nice backdrop, however fireworks are not allowed by palaces and you might be a bit disappointed.
Please Note: if you are not a local I highly recommend you DO NOT buy fireworks. If you use fireworks irresponsibly, the wrong type of firework, or anything that goes against German law you can get fined 50,000 Euro and face 3 year jail time. So, unless you can read the city’s laws and regulations on fireworks in German, it’s best to just watch. Plus it is much more sustainable to let the city host the firework show and not have them going off in the street, which I’ll talk about later.
All Inclusive Dinner, Reservations, and Events
Before you plan on just walking up to a party for New Year’s Eve in Germany, it is important to know that Germans LOVE reservations, buying tickets to things in advance, and planning ahead. This makes it somewhat difficult to just “wing” your New Year’s Eve night, so unless you plan on staying home or just watching fireworks outside, it is advised you buy tickets to an event or reserve dinner in advance.
Just about every single restaurant, club, or bar hosts a special Sylvester event in Munich, so even if you’ve been eyeing that simple-looking Italian restaurant down the road, check their website to see if they have a set menu or special event. Most restaurants will have set course menus with champagne or wine pairing.
If taking to the streets and partying with crackers isn’t your thing and you prefer a scheduled event either a quiet dinner or a VIP club package then you can find loads of events by going to Facebook events and changing the location to Munich and the date to Dec 31, checking out Eventbrite or the Munich city website. Unfortunately, most things are in German, so you will have to use Google translate.
If you are looking for an alternative clubbing experience without all the fancy basic bros, then I suggest going underground and looking at German techno and electornica events at Blitz Nightclub, the Muffatwerk , Harry Klein, Bahnwärter Thiel, Rote Sonne, or Pimpernel.
Tollwood Winter Festival also throws two fantastic NYE events that typically draw in a fun-loving local crowd that is the perfect mix of class and party. This would be one of my top recommendations for things to do in Munich on New Year Eve. You can go fancy with a set full course dinner menu or keep it a bit more casual with live music.
If you want to take to the streets and party then hang out on Leopoldstrasse near the Siegstor for a massive street party. Here you will find plenty of locals and tourists drinking, listening to music, and watching fireworks. The vide of this party may change in 2019 as the personal firework ban takes place, however it may be a good place to watch the city show.
If you are one of those crazy people who love traveling to new destinations to run in races, then check out the Silvesterlauf or the New Year’s Eve run, which takes place on the morning of the 31st.
Public transportation runs regularly until 1 am when night transportation starts, which means there are certain Ubahn and night buses that can get you home. However, it is advised not to travel between 11-1am. Free Now is a taxi app that works well in Munich, as uber is not popular.
Important New Year’s Eve Information
There are recent environmental concerns with the mass amounts of fireworks in Munich during NYE. In Munich and other cities, the air samples that were taken each hour on New Year’s Eve typically exceeded 1,000 micrograms — readings like this are harmful to people with asthma, other breathing ailments, pregnant women, and children. It also causes a lot of waste and scares wild and domestic animals. So while it is popular to light off fireworks in Munich and it might seem like the cool thing to do I advise you to find alternative ways to enjoy the holiday that doesn’t involve fireworks.
In the coming years cities, such as Munich, are adopting a no personal firework policy and instead will focus on orchestrating a concise city-wide display of gunpowderless fireworks to reduce air pollution. Cities such as Constance, Goslar, Bielefeld, Straubing, Ravensburg, and Hanover have already changed their policy and Munich has implemented limitations as well.
New Year’s Eve Safety in Munich
Even if things are changing in the near future, I’m not going to lie New Year’s in Germany is no joke. It’s kinda scary. There were several times last year I thought I lost my hearing or my face was going to get blown off. If you have PTSD or don’t like loud noises, I highly recommend you stay inside with a movie or book a quiet dinner outside the city. I would avoid being outside during the midnight hour and ensure you are to your destination before the chaos begins. Taxis aren’t even safe from the madness as fireworks are set to go off in the street.
To be safe and sustainable this NYE it is ideal to enjoy a night in at a house party, host a firework free party of your own, or book a dinner out with friends and loved ones.
Are You in Munich for New Year’s Eve?
Who is in Munich for New Year’s Eve or Day? Let me know in the comments what you’re planning on doing, or if you need some additional pointers. Have fun and Guten Rutsch!
Susanna grew up in small-town Alaska where the changing climate was always on her mind. Through traveling, she gained an interest in the power of sustainable and regenerative travel. She now attends a Master's program for environmental sustainability and bridges sustainable travel with environmental science.