For the first time the Bratislava city council has joined forces with the Old Town to prepare a joint celebration of the arrival of the New Year. Thus, a novelty of this year is centralising the New Year’s Eve festivities in one place - Hviezdoslavovo Square. Organisers promise smart novelties including digital fireworks and a new digital countdown timer.
“This New Year’s Eve in Bratislava’s centre will in some way be a breakthrough because the concept we had here since 2000 has become exhausted and we really need a new impulse,” said Old Town Mayor Radoslav Števčík.
A big change compared with previous years is that this time the central zone of New Year’s Eve celebrations will be Hviezdoslavovo Square. In previous years the city council organised the programme on the Main Square and the Old Town on Hviezdoslavovo Square. Now there will be a podium on Hviezdoslavovo Square on which two DJs will entertain people already from 18:00. At 22:00 they will be replaced by live music - the Gypsy Devils band.
For visitors of the city’s festivities it will be a short walk to the Danube embankment to watch the midnight fireworks above the river, accompanied by Strauss’s waltz, The Blue Danube. After midnight, the festivities will continue on Hviezdoslavovo Square until early morning. The ice rink on the square will be open until 1:00.
This year it was the civic association Hlava 98, to which also organiser of the popular White Night Zuzana Pacáková offered helped, that prepared the programme of the festivities. When thinking about where to move this year’s festivities, they took several factors into consideration.
“Bratislava has changed over the past 10-15 years or since the millennium festivities,” said Pavol Murín from Hlava 98. “What was special for visitors in 1999 has become a matter of course. This means that there are concerts and cultural programmes on the Main and Hviezdoslavovo squares and that the centre is full of proper, decent restaurants.”
For this year they have prepared two intelligent novelties. The first one is a non-traditional interactive digital firework display on the Main Square designed by artist Zuzana Petrovičová and software designer Ondrej Makši, Pacáková explained. Via a free mobile application, those interested can send New Year’s wishes, or even launch their own digital fireworks on the big screen on the square, accompanied by the real sound of fireworks.
Visitors can simply connect to free Wi-Fi on the Main Square and find a network called Ohňostroj, i.e. firework in Slovak. Via the connection they can access a special application in which they will be able to create and light their own fireworks.
“The visitors will be able to choose from abstract or concrete firework shapes, change colours and the size of the final firework,” said Pacáková. Part of the programme will be a ranking system, thus the more fireworks a person fires, the higher in the ranking he or she will place.
Pacáková assures that even though there will be more people connected to the application, each will be able to identify his or her firework on the big screen.
The second novelty will be a large countdown timer created by light designer Robert Farkaš who cooperated with graphic typographer Ondrej Jób. It will be located on the Ľ. Štúr Square.
During the New Year’s Eve celebrations visitors can buy some refreshment at Christmas stands. The ice skating rink on Hviezdoslavovo Square will be open too. The rink on Primaciálne Square will also be open, but only until 19:00. Afterwards it will be closed along with the whole Primaciálne Square due to security reasons.
The city council promises that enforced patrols of municipal and state police along with security guards, firefighters and paramedics will take care of security, also with respect to the recent terrorist attack in Berlin.
Thus, due to security reasons, people will be able to enter Hviezdoslavovo Square only via six checkpoints. Here guards will check people to ensure they do not take prohibited items with them into the central zone. These include glass bottles, knives or other sharp or dangerous items, as well as pyrotechnics. Bratislava councillors banned the latter, except small sparklers and other less dangerous pyrotechnics, as of November 1. There is no exception for New Year’s Eve celebrations.Use of amateur pyrotechnics prohibited in Bratislava, also on New Year’s Eve Read more
The entry points into the central zone on Hviezdoslavovo Square will be at the crossroad of Laurinská and Rybárska streets (close to the Čumil sculpture) and on the crossroad of Mostová and Medená streets. Another one will be at Palackého Street from Kúpeľná Street. Guards will check visitors also at Jesenského Street next to the Slovak National Theatre and on Gorkého Street next to Poštová Banka. An entrance to the central zone will be located close to the US Embassy and Strakova Street.
The rest of the city centre will be guarded but not fenced.
Strengthened city transport
Organisers call on all those who plan to attend the celebrations in the city centre to leave their cars at home and instead use city transport. This is also because Vajanského Nábrežie and Ľ. Štúr Square will be closed for transport until 2:30 the following day. The Bratislava City Transport company promises to add buses and trolleybuses on all lines heading into each district as of 23:30. They will run in 15- to 30-minute intervals until the morning. Also trams N5, N8 and N10 will run in the same intervals.