The Hills Were Alive at New Years

A really good New Year is not just about where you are and what you are drinking as the clock strikes midnight, but rather about the whole event, the location, the ambience, the emotion and of course the people you are sharing it with.

A Wonderful Night Awaits

Marble Hall Gala Dinner, Schloss Leopoldskron

My story starts a few days beforehand beside a small, frozen lake just outside of Salzburg, Austria. I was on the Albatross Tours 8 Day New Year with the Sound of Music tour and my home for 5 nights was the ‘Meierhof’, a historic building within the palace complex of Schloss (Palace) Leopoldskron, better known to you perhaps as the home of the Von Trapp Family in the ‘The Sound of Music’ film. An extraordinary experience! So on this New Year’s Eve day I woke and enjoyed breakfast in the Schloss itself before driving deep into the snow covered Austrian Alps to a village called Filzmoos, where we boarded a horse and carriage for an entrancing sleigh ride. Passing through the snowy woods and surrounded by majestic mountains, we reached the remote Oberhofalm alpine hut where, after lunch, I learned how to make a snow angel, and then lose in a snowball fight!

Horse and Carriage ride, Austria

After a few warming schnapps, we returned to our Schloss for a wonderfully elegant New Year’s Eve Gala event - a candle-lit dinner in the grand Marble Hall! My wife looked gorgeous and dressed in my Tux I didn’t look too bad either. New Year saw us sipping champagne on the Palace balcony overlooking the majestic lake, watching the fireworks, before dancing the night away.

A New Day brings a New Year

Schloss Leopoldskron overlooking Salzburg

The following morning began with a leisurely start and a sumptuous breakfast set in the Schloss. Then my wife and I walked around the ice covered, idyllic lake and then up onto the ancient ramparts and castle towering above Salzburg. Later that afternoon we met with our tour group and watched the Sound of Music film, right there where it all happened. Corny, I know, but what a memory! That night, after another excellent dinner and wine tasting in the Marble Hall, we were treated to a piano concert in the Great Hall.

The beauty of Austria

So that, my friends, was my New Year. Oh, by the way, in the days before and after we also explored beautiful, baroque Salzburg, saw an incredible laser light show deep inside the caverns of the nearby Salt Mines, cruised across an underground lake and later enjoyed another cruise along on the deep, blue waters of the fjord like Lake Konigsee, saw the sunlight glinting off Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest high on the snowy mountain top, and sipped Gluhwein (spiced mulled wine) in the delightful Berchtesgaden Christmas markets. Of course I mustn’t forget to mention a Mozart Concert with dinner in the 1200 year old St Peter Stiftskeller, and also a day exploring the Lakes District where Julie Andrews sang… and the ornate church where Maria got married and...

I’ve never had a New Year like it and I probably will never again.

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Euan Landsborough

Euan Landsborough is the Managing Director and Tour Designer at Albatross Tours