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Top Pick: New Year's Eve in Bratislava - not just for locals

"We Enjoy Being Bratislavans" is the theme of this year's Silvester (New Year's Eve) celebration in the capital's streets.
While it means the citizens of Bratislava have no need to seek fun outside the capital's borders, it also invites outsiders of all descriptions to come to the town and welcome the arrival of the New Year with leading Slovak and Czech musicians.
"The whole town will come alive with music. The slow rhythm will intensify around midnight, when it culminates in the popping of champagne corks," said Vlado Talian, one of the music programmers.


Slovak pop star Miro Žbirka rocked the capital's streets last year.
photo: Courtesy: Hlava '98

"We Enjoy Being Bratislavans" is the theme of this year's Silvester (New Year's Eve) celebration in the capital's streets.

While it means the citizens of Bratislava have no need to seek fun outside the capital's borders, it also invites outsiders of all descriptions to come to the town and welcome the arrival of the New Year with leading Slovak and Czech musicians.

"The whole town will come alive with music. The slow rhythm will intensify around midnight, when it culminates in the popping of champagne corks," said Vlado Talian, one of the music programmers.

At Main Square, 11 Czech and Slovak bands, most of them promising special surprises, will rock the stage under the historical Town Hall. The chart sounds to shake the party crowd will be mixed at a rock party on Michalská Street. A variety show on the skating rink on Hviezdoslavovo Square could prove a relaxing switch from the crowded streets in the town's heaving core.

The event's headliner at the Main Square, the Slovak band Vidiek (Countryside) - a quintet with catchy and sometimes hilarious songs about Slovak village life - promise a lively show as usual, from 23:00 to midnight. The band's lead singer, Ján Kuric, will unwrap the act after a concert performance from Slovakia's most famous singer, Jana Kiršner, which starts at 22:20.

African dancers and fire eaters will jump to the stage with the Czech band Šum Svistu around 21:00. Their electrifying music, including percussion instruments, tam-tams, cymbals and tambourines, along with the band's colourful costumes, will evoke a tropical atmosphere in the freezing cold.


More than 70,000 people regularly come to celebrate New Year's Eve in Bratislava.
photo: Courtesy: Hlava '98

"They will bring the summer sun to this winter season," said Paľo Murín, Talian's colleague. A transvestite show will follow after the Šum Svistu concert.

Murín recommends performances by Slovak musicians Pavol Hammel and Peter Nagy, both of whom will revive their legendary songs. For the first time in five years, Hammel will rejoin his former band Prúdy at 19:40.

Nagy with his band Indigo will go back to the mid 1980s, an hour after midnight. Despite his largely Slovak appeal and somewhat dated songs, Nagy's catchy refrains, such as Láska je tu s nami (Love is here with us), will easily ring foreigners' ear bells.

Fifteen minutes after midnight, Slovak rock band Hex will step out with their exclusive show. With songs prepared specifically for this occasion, they will host famous actors, including Csongor Kassai, who must be tired after being cast in practically every Slovak movie in 2001, along with Richard Stanke and Slávka Halčáková.

Easy going jazz music played by Požoň Sentimental will start the Main Square's celebration at 17:00, followed by the Jewish tunes of the Pressburger Klezmerband. The mood will be later switched by Ján Berky Mrenica Jr.'s Gypsy dulcimer and string band, the Devil's Violin.

Approaching midnight, New Year's Eve surprises will intensify until the very jump from the old calendar into the new one. Shortly after, a huge fire works display from the castle hill will sparkle the night's sky.

The rock party on Michalská starts at 19:00 and the disco on the Hviezdoslavovo square skating ring at 14:00. Refreshment stands scattered around the town core will offer traditional Slovak mulled drinks and food. Access to the Old Town will be provided through Panská, Gorkého, Laurinská, Františkánska and Hviezdoslavovo Square. Michalská Street will be open only as an exit.

By Zuzana Habšudová

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