Our travel writer, Elvy K, explores the best accessible party towns for New Year’s Eve 2021.
[Image: a white person wearing a black tank top and their hair in a bun is pulling a confetti cracker, releasing confetti up into a clear sky.]
New Year’s Eve! Whether you’re a fan of the big countdown, or prefer snoozing away into the new year, this time of year tends to be a globally shared experience. We usually find ourselves individually or collectively reflecting on the previous year, and look forward with hope to a better year to come. Where and how we spend this time of year is special to many people, and sometimes, a change in scenery gives us that extra bit of excitement to start us off right into the new year. Although these may not all be possible destinations for this year - it’s worth keeping in mind for the future. So if you’re still thinking about where you could go, we’ve got you covered with some accessible destinations:
London, UK: We’re all familiar with the New Year’s Eve countdown and fireworks display from the famous Big Ben in London. If you’ve ever considered this but felt intimidated by the big crowds and uncertainty about access, fear not! There is an accessible viewing area by the riverside on the Albert Embankment which offers a vehicle drop off, limited crowd access, accessible toilets, seating, and a hearing loop. They also offer a free companion pass for those who need it. If you miss out on tickets or fancy watching the fireworks from afar, you can always find a cosy spot on Parliament Hill or Hampstead Heath to do so. This alternative way of watching the fireworks is becoming more and more popular, so it’s worth bearing in mind that it could get busy. Once you’ve had enough and are ready to go back indoors, there are plenty of London black cabs that are wheelchair accessible, or you can use the Transport For London (TFL) website to plan an accessible journey.
Brighton, UK: If you’re not quite ready to board a flight outside the UK, Brighton is a great destination option for those who love being by the beach. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of wheelchair accessible taxis available which means moving from one place to the other in a wheelchair was hussle free. There are some steep hills, which could be difficult for those using a manual wheelchair or other mobility aids. The main city centre is relatively small, meaning you don’t need to travel too far from one place to another. An option for your night could be a night on the i360 viewing tower which allows you access to a pod, taking you up 450ft above Brighton at 11:45pm ready for the countdown. Disabled facilities are readily available. Alternatively you can find a nice seating area by the beach and soak up the atmosphere before continuing your night.
Barcelona, Spain: When it comes to European destinations Barcelona is a popular city for New Years Eve celebrations. Although there isn’t one specific event that takes place to mark the beginning of a new year, there are instead multiple mini events to choose from. With accessible buses from the airport, to a reasonably accessible underground system, moving around the city is fairly easy. The city centre is generally flat with wide, well maintained footpaths, although the smaller side streets tend to have cobblestones making it awkward for those with walking aids. And if you fancy a trip to the beach as part of your holiday, there are a few accessible beaches, such as Nova Icària Beach, that provide beach wheelchairs if you feel brave enough to attempt a winter swim.
Nairobi, Kenya: Nairobi is a city buzzing during the New Year period with long warm days and plenty of activities to keep you busy. With a variety of hotels available, finding accessible accommodation has never been easier. A number of organisations are available to support access needs, although December to January is a popular time meaning travel costs may be quite high. There are plenty of wheelchair accessible rooftop bars to see you into the new year. A number of popular tourist destinations such as the Giraffe Centre are also wheelchair accessible if you fancy exploring the city during the day. Wheelchair accessible safaris, such as in the Masai Mara, are an option for those looking for an extra special experience. Finding wheelchair accessible vehicles may be challenging so taking a foldable wheelchair may be easier for this destination.
New York, USA: The concrete jungle as they call it, really does live up to the hype of being an exciting and fun city. With plenty of wheelchair accessible yellow cabs, and a fairly accessible subway system, moving around the city is easy although it may require forward planning. There are plenty of hotels in the city, however it is recommended that you ask for pictures as depending on your location, hotels can be older than they seem, meaning accessible facilities differ, and may be different to European guidance on accessibility. Manhattan is generally a good central location allowing you easy access by foot, car, or subway, to other parts of the city. The famous ball drop in Times Square may be an experience to mark off the bucket list when it comes to New Years Eve experiences. There is a designated disabled viewing area at 44th Street and Broadway although this does get very busy. Alternatively New York has many modern venues with lifts meaning it's easy to find yourself on a rooftop enjoying city views.
Are you excited about New Year’s eve? Why not join our growing Conscious Being community on Discord to share further tips and ideas for the holiday season? To gain access to the CB Discord, simply join as a member of the community here on the website, or join our Patreon membership - Click here for Conscious Being Patreon.
*Please remember to check the most up-to-date COVID-19 related advice for each destination and venue before making any bookings. Some events may be cancelled this year due to current COVID-19 restrictions.
Elvy K (she/her) is our resident travel writer, she is a twenty-something, disabled and mixed race person of the world. You can find Elvy on Twitter - @accessbyelvy