New Year's Celebration In Belgrade

Written for Expat.rs by Jelena Jovanovic
For all of those who have decided to celebrate the New Year in Belgrade, a wide assortment of events has been organized. Already, only half-way through December, all the clubs, cafes and restaurants in Belgrade have begun advertising for their parties and have presented the plan and price for their celebration. There will be traditional celebrations as well as a significant number of large parties hosting foreign DJs.

The City Parliament of Belgrade, as in previous years, has organized a celebration on the streets of Belgrade. The celebration usually attracts a large number of people, both Belgrade natives as well as visitors to the capital. This year the event will feature a concert organized on one stage which will be set up in front of the National Parliament Building. The main stars of the event titled
“Let’s start with kisses” are musicians Goran Bregovi?, with his Wedding and Funeral Orchestra, and Marija Šerifovi?, last year’s Eurovision winner. Ana Stani?, a rock singer from Belgrade will open with her band on the big stage in front of the National Parliament followed by the group Vrelo which features six female vocalists, presenting an interesting link between the sounds of rock, punk and traditional Balkan music.  Weather permitting, the New Year’s celebration on the streets of Belgrade should be a very interesting event. It is important to have good company, dress warmly and avoid those firecrackers.

The City Parliament has also put together “Ice City” - an outdoor ice skating rink at Nikola Paši? Square where from the 20th of December through the 18th of January there will be various programs for the younger generation of Belgrade residents. Aside from that there is the Open Heart Street located on Svetogorska Street - where, traditionally, on January 1st of each year, throughout the entire day, there are concerts, various artistic performances and humanitarian activities.  This January 1st on Svetogorska Street there will be various activities taking place simultaneously at 18 different locations.
 
Large, club-type New Year’s celebrations have been organized this year by the Belgrade Arena and Expo Center. At the Arena, in the event titled
Telenor Countdown, there will be performances by Junior Jack & Kid Creme, Tom Novy and Seamus Haji, some very famous European DJs. Junior Jack comes from Belgium with five albums in his discography and a series of singles, including hits: "Stupidisco", "Thrill Me", "Make Luv" and "E Samba". Tom Novy, a German producer and DJ, is the author of several club hits such as: "Take me", "Now or Never", "Without Your Love" and "Your Body". Seamus Haji is a fairly new name on the world club scene and is famous for being first DJ to use vocals in the new, electro-house style in his hit ’Last Night DJ Saved My Life’.  Fans of big parties and electro music can also check out the party being organized by Tuborg at the Belgrade Expo Center. The party will feature a performance by world famous house DJ Alex Gaudino, known for his single Destination Calabria and for his work in the trio Lil Love. Along with him, there will be Italian band Spit, comprised of two DJs and a vocalist who are known for their global hit Falling.

The cover charge for both events is around thirty euros, but as New Year's Eve gets closer, the price will continue to rise. There is also the option of purchasing expensive and exclusive VIP tickets which secure a special place in the celebration hall and a selection of drinks and food.

The diversity of Belgrade venues organizing New Year’s celebrations is quite extensive. More exclusive clubs offer celebrations costing from 60 euros and up, and are intended for the younger, well-dressed population which listens to various types of electro music. At the club Magacin, DJs DeeJauy Playa, DJ Vidaque and DJ  Munja will perform featuring club/vocal house, RnB, and mash up music on the turntables. At the Metropolitan Party being held in the Genex Impuls Hall, music will be spun by three DJs - DJ Pop, DJ Kizami and DJ Marko Španac. Exclusive New Year’s parties will also take place at the hotel Hyatt Regency (in Club Elington and in the Crystal Ballroom), as well as at Grand Casino, an increasingly popular location on the Danube Quay in Zemun.  

On the list of somewhat less exclusive, and along with that cheaper clubs, are Mistique on Abardareva Street, Teatro on Sarajevska and Vanila Lounge located at Student's Square. These and a number of other clubs will include drinks and food in the entrance price. Along with DJ performances, the most common other performances will be by live bands - performances by bands playing domestic and foreign pop-music hits but also folk music when required. One of the parties which, as of the middle of December, was among the most searched for on the websites providing information on where, how and for how much money you can celebrate the New Year, was the party at the cultural-artistic society Lola on Resavska Street No. 11. Lola offers an interesting venue, solid selection of food and drinks and music from the club band La Luna - domestic and foreign pop and rock, Greek, Russian, Gypsy and Old City music.

Among the boat clubs (splavovi) which are also offering live performances (or DJs), drinks, a buffet and a fantastic time are El Grande, Freestyler, Refresh and Godo. The club Havana on Ada Ciganlija is throwing a tropical party and for those who prefer pop and rock music there is Danguba (near Vuk’s Monument) and Old Town Pub in Kolar?eva Street. Some of the more and less famous folk singers have also been booked for performances at different venues in Belgrade during New Year's Eve.  

A majority of Belgrade clubs, cafes and restaurants in all parts of the city will be open for guests on December 31st. Continued celebrations, on January 1st and 2nd will be held in a majority of clubs and cafes with prices being several thousand dinars cheaper than the actual New Year’s celebration. Advanced reservations are required and most people know ahead of time where they will be going. It all depends on age and taste, whether one prefers an upbeat party with a well-dressed crowd or a more modest time with a laid back crowd. Of course it also depends greatly on the availability of funds. Average prices in average Belgrade clubs range from 30 to 50 euros.

In the long line of Belgrade restaurants organizing a celebration for the New Year, it is well known that the restaurants in the Bohemian Quarter (Skadarlija) will all be completely full. In a mini inquiry carried out at several of the most well-known Bohemian Quarter restaurants (Ima Dana, Dva Jelena, Tri Šešira), we have discovered that prices for the New Year’s celebration range between 4500 and 6000 dinars which includes a welcome drink, an array of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and a menu based on the national cuisine. That being corn bread, prosciutto, cheese, kajmak and the unavoidable grilled meat. Some restaurants are even offering sour stew in the morning - for taking care of a bad hangover. Guests of the Bohemian Quarter on New Year's Eve are typically Belgrade natives with a long tradition of celebrating the New Year in one of the restaurants on this street, but there are also Serbs from abroad, Serbs from other parts of Serbia and international visitors to Serbia’s capital. It’s mostly middle-aged and older folks coming to the Bohemian Quarter to celebrate, but, as the restaurant owners in the Bohemian Quarter have said, over the last few years there has been a rise in attendance of younger guests as well. In the Bohemian Quarter they play exclusively Old City music and the orchestras which play for the New Year can be heard in the Bohemian Quarter restaurants all year round.

So, if you are stuck in Belgrade or if you stayed on purpose just to help usher in 2009, you can definitely find a party that will suit you and keep you smiling as we enter into the New Year. However, much more important than where you go is who you will be with – during the craziest night of the year, and in the 364 days which follow.