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Window Seat or Aisle Seat: New Ways to Celebrate a New Year

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Love it or hate it, New Year’s Eve is just 10 days away. In her final Window Seat or Aisle Seat column of the year,  Kerri Zane offers up New Year’s Eve celebrations fit for families. Find out her travel ideas to some of the hottest destinations of 2013 as well as kid-friendly celebrations closer to home.

New Year’s is my favorite time of year. It is a period to rest, rejuvenate and gear up for the exciting and endless possibilities in the upcoming 365. But New Year’s Eve celebrations have traditionally come up short for me. I am not the kind of person who relishes pounding down another glass of champagne and kissing the cheeks of total strangers, all in the name of starting fresh. I would much rather celebrate the beauty of what will be with those I love the most, my children. So while many local festivities will encourage you to leave the little ones behind, I invite you to join me in taking your kids on a unique New Year’s Eve to remember.

Dr. Patt Hollinger Pickett, M.Ed., Ph.D. and author of The Marriage Whisperer: Tips to Improve Your Relationship Overnight agrees with my philosophy.

Family traditions built around New Year’s [particularly when out of town] symbolize annual renewal of emotional and spiritual bonds with kids–significant well beyond the short-terms pleasures of partying with friends.

Celebrate the New  Year Abroad

Portugal

Ready for a New Year rich with adventure, my eldest daughter (it’s also her 22nd birthday) and I boarded a jet to celebrate in the Best European City of 2012, Lisbon, Portugal. It was 17 hours of traveling including layovers, but the charm of the city salves ones tired bones immediately.

We stayed at the Palacio Belmonte, situated in the Alfama district; a stones throw from Castelo de Sao Jorge. The owners, Maria and Frederic Coustols embody the concept of family. They have five children and eight randchildren of their own. The Coustols literally handed us the keys to the Palace and even invited us into their kitchen for tea and a chat. They make the palace a fun place for children to visit, inviting them to find animal paintings hidden amongst the 38,000 azulejo (blue and white) tiles that decorate the palace. Children can play hide and seek for hours in the 13 stairwells or behind any one of the 400 doors or windows. Then for a treat they can join Maria in the kitchen to create their own original tarts.

Lisbon is colorful, easy to navigate, with has something for everyone. My daughter danced from midnight to 8 am, while I enjoyed strolling the black and white cobblestone sidewalks and ancient narrow paths of the old city. This New Year’s Eve the Lisboans will celebrate in style with a variety of concerts, world -amous magicians and an ice festival featuring the best Russian skaters.

“The island of Madeira celebrates the New Year with one of the most spectacular fireworks shows in the world and the best way to get there for you and your family is aboard either the P&O Cruise Line aboard or Fred Olsen Cruises ” says Douglas Ward author of the Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise ships 2013.

Equador

For a real getaway of crazy fun imagine spending the New Year right on the equator.  In Quito, the capitol of Ecuador, locals go all out with huge firework displays and giant dummies of (un)popular celebrities and politicians, which are set alight at midnight as part of a giant street party. It’s all very family friendly and Ecuadoreans are very welcoming to families from abroad that joins in their festivities.

United Arab Emirates

Traveling to an unexpected destination can make this New Years 2013 a lasting memory. If the United Arab Emirates has been on your family travel bucket list, there’s no better time than now. The sand and stars come together at Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara. Families can ring in the New Year at Al Wahu, the resort’s all day dining restaurant, which will host a live 4-piece band and a decadent dinner buffet. All guests are then invited to join the party in the resort’s courtyard, where a live DJ, traditional Ayala dancing (kids learn fast!), an African drummer and fire show ultimately make way to spectacular fireworks finale.

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