Year-End Festivities

Wherever you are in the archipelago there is something happening for New Year celebrations. I can recall during the era of Soeharto there was a time when all the major cities in Indonesia competed [unofficially of course] to see who put on the best celebration. But for my money the two that top the lot are Jakarta and Yogyakarta. That is, if the rain holds off!.

If you re heading to Jakarta for New Years Eve or just passing through then it helps to know where to blow your trumpet!. Here’s an article by Susanna Tjokro on what’s occurring in Jakarta:

With New Year just around the corner, hotels are gearing up for all the fun, offering various forms of entertainment, such as soothing, beautiful harp music, tarot readings, a pirate-themed party, live music, comedy, fireworks — you name it as Remember catchy songs like Bamboleo and Djobi Djoba? Well, you can dance your feet off to the flamenco-influenced rhythms of The Gipsy Kings Family, a world-class band that will be performing on Dec. 31 at the Grand Ballroom of hotel Mulia Senayan.

At the same hotel, Dewi Sandra will sing her heart out from 9 p.m. to the countdown at the Cascade Lounge. By paying Rp 1,250,000+++ (26.5 percent) per person, you can also enjoy a lavish buffet. Alternatively, laugh yourself silly with Project Pop in the lobby while waiting for the countdown, starting at 11:30 p.m.

Jazz lovers shouldn’t miss Maliq & d’essentials, who will be performing at Four Seasons Hotel’s Countdown Party. For Rp 350,000 net per person (inclusive of one drink), you can also dance your feet off to classic disco music with renowned D.J. Edwin & Fais. The gala dinner is priced at Rp 595,000++, including free flow fresh juice as well as wine and on top of that you will get one free ticket to the Countdown Party.

Want to celebrate New Year’s Eve in a romantic atmosphere? Just drop by Portovenere, the renowned Italian restaurant at Ritz Carlton, where you can indulge yourself (and your love one) with a 6-course set menu, including sparkling wine, priced at Rp 888,000++ per person. Romantic guitar tunes add a touch of romance.

For more adventurous souls, sail to J.W. Marriott hotel, which promises to give you an extravagant countdown party a la pirate, inspired by the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. The lobby will resemble a cave-like treasure trove where pirates stash their treasure. Trinkets, in the form of mouth-watering oysters, prawns, lobsters and goose liver, will be spread on Sailendra deck, Pearl cabin as well as Asuka island (prices for the buffet start at Rp 388,000 for New Year’s Eve Set Menu at Pearl restaurant).

Then let Madame Fortune Teller foretell what lies ahead. Besides that, at the pirate’s ship, you can dance and sing to your heart’s content, as Fanfair band and Cindy Bernadette light up the night. With many activities to keep you busy, you may wish to stay as long as possible on this pirate ship!

Borobudur Hotel is the spot to celebrate New Year’s Eve with your kids. From 4 p.m., the hotel will keep your little ones busy with various fun activities, such as face painting, magic balloons, games, putt-putt golf and mini billiards to name just a few. On top of that, balloons containing vouchers will be dropped at the stroke of midnight in the hotel’s lobby.

Party lovers should check out the new Musro (opening mid December) at Borobudur Hotel. Dotted with Buddha statues, exotic lighting plus laser and a DJ booth, the new Musro is presenting “Erotically of Kamasutra” as its theme. A chic wine lounge, with internet facilities, will be located on the second floor — surely, Musro is the perfect spot for those who want to celebrate the New Year in an upbeat contemporary atmosphere.

“Rain Carnation” will be the theme for New Year’s Eve at Musro (with a first drink charge of Rp 150,000 per person). Partygoers can enjoy join in the celebration from 9 p.m. till they drop with performances from percussion, Top 40 Band and a groovy all-girl band plus a D.J who will entertain clubbers with lively music.

In contrast to the blasting celebrations at many hotels, Dharmawangsa presents the famous Indonesian harpist, Maya Hasan, who will captivate you with her enchanting music — entertainment that indeed should not be miss by harp lovers. The New Year’s Eve dinner, priced at Rp 2,850,000++ per person, offers a selection of the finest wine and champagne, like Dom Perignon, Chateau Mouton Rothschild and Remy Louis XIII.

At Dharmawangsa, you can enjoy the peace and quiet of a relaxed atmosphere in welcoming the New Year.

For those who want to stay in a hip and lively neighborhood, surrounded by art galleries, chic restaurants and cool boutiques, look no further than Grand Kemang, which is located in the heart of Kemang. The hotel offers a year-end package (from Dec. 30 to Jan. 1), starting at Rp 1,600,000++. A gala dinner at Sperta Restaurant costs Rp 200,000 per person. And don’t miss the weekend bazaar at the hotel on Dec. 29 and 30.

Need a break from Jakarta? You may have a hard time deciding where to go, as there are so many options. Bunaken, in Manado (North Sulawesi) offers the perfect getaway for frazzled Jakartans, as it is widely known as a beautiful spot where you can dive or just relax, enjoying life in every sense of the word. Hotel Santika Seaside Resort in Bunaken, charges Rp 290,000++ per night (deluxe room), valid only for Indonesian citizens and KITAS holders. The hotel’s “It’s All Good” package promises a lot of fun, from Cabaret Dance to Disco Time to Fireworks — dinner is Rp 250,000 per person.

If Manado is too far for you to travel, Bogor and Bandung are other interesting options. Hotel Salak The Heritage is located in the heart of Bogor and is close to factory outlets, the Bogor Presidential Palace as well as the Bogor Botanical Gardens. Rooms are priced from Rp 660,000++ to Rp 5,000,000++ per night.

If you plan to spend New Year’s Eve at Hotel Salak, be prepared to attend D’Heroes costume party — come with your best hero’s costume, from Batman to Wonder Woman, for a prize awaits! Loaded with live music, cabaret, games with door prizes and D’Heroes costume party; Hotel Salak offers a night to remember.

Sheraton Bandung Hotel & Towers is offering a New Year package too, from Rp 2,500,000 net per night, including breakfast, gala dinner plus a countdown party (dinner without accommodation is priced at Rp 450,000++). The hotel is only minutes from downtown and you can shop till you drop at nearby the Dago factory outlet. Indeed, during your stay, there will be various activities to keep you busy, including games, live music from D & G plus a fortune teller who will reveal what the future has in store for you (if you wish).

For outdoor parties, head to Taman Impian Jaya Ancol, where there will be a variety of entertainment, such as aerialist shows, live music and fireworks at midnight, with the turning of the year. The fireworks festivals will be concentrated at Pantai Carnaval (Carnival Beach), Ex Theatre Mobil (ex drive-in) and Putri Duyung Cottage. Reggae Music will fill the air all night long at Pantai Indah (Beautiful Beach), while top dangdut singers, from Denada to Inul Daratista, will entertain the crowd at Ex Theatre Mobil.

Alternatively, feast your eyes on the spectacular Aerialist Shows by Dima and Sveta as well as Joanna McMenamin and Vladimir Tatarchuk, at 9:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. at Putri Duyung Cottage Ancol, Dec. 31.

With all these options — indoor and outdoor parties — you may have a hard time deciding what to do. Whether to dance and sing to your heart’s content at the beach or to have a romantic dinner with a loved one or even be a pirate for a day, the choice is yours.

The writer can be reached at

It’s all great and nice for those of us who can indulge in New Year’s celebrations, but, spare a thought for those who cannot. There have been many natural disasters over the years leaving thousands homeless and without food. So, when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, spare a thought and a prayer and best wishes for those less fortunate than ourselves.