New Year's in Graz was amazing. I'm not sure I can even describe it. A large projector projects 2009 images on the town hall (look left) and they set up a big stage in the center of downtown with various acts, including fire dancers and cover bands. They also sell champagne, beer, and the last of the season's glüwein. People run all over, setting off fireworks and firecrackers, so much so that about an inch of confetti and discarded paper covers the walks by 10pm. A little before midnight, the big fireworks start. Pete and I climbed up the mountain in town to watch the big display and could see a panoramic view of the fireworks going off all over the city while the big city display was set off right in front of us and lit up the entire city and the River Mur. It was incredible. I've put up a few photos, but it's difficult to do it justice.
Another New Year's tradition in Austria is to sell little tokens of good luck. Booths are set up all over town selling these little tokens, including tiny pigs, mushrooms, clovers, lady bugs, and chimney sweeps. Most of these symbols of good luck are derived from old fairy tales and to the unaccustomed eye, seem totally insane. Like these plush pig hats for instance:
Even if you didn't get a lucky mushroom for New Year's or a plush pig hat, I still wish you all a Happy New Year!