A dawn-to-midnight guide to celebrating New Year’s in Chennai
After two years of intimate kitchen sink parties and virtual gatherings, this year more people are venturing out to celebrate New Year’s Eve and Day, although the shadow of the pandemic is still upon us. We have a few ideas to keep you busy till you usher in 2023. Let the fun begin early.
5.30am to 7.30am
A healthy start
Can’t round up your hungover or lazy squad for an activity? You can always join these running and cycling groups in the city. Most of them end and begin the year with a run or ride. WCCG (We Chennai Cyclists Group) that has 19 chapters across the city gets together for an early morning ride on December 31. Each chapter cycles to their preferred spots like Muttukadu, Akkarai beach, Besant Nagar beach, and the lighthouse at Marina beach. It usually ends with cake cutting and a photo shoot. Twenty-four hours later, they are back again, cycling together and catching the first sunrise of the year. “We organise the newbie ride on the first of January every year. It’s for people who want to have a fitter lifestyle. Lot of people make resolutions to be healthy. Around 300 new riders participate in this each year. Many of them translate to regular riders,” says Priya D of WCCG. It is open to all, across age groups.
The newbie ride covers 25 kilometres and starts at three different points: at the Just Buy Cycles outlets in Velachery, Tambaram and Anna Nagar. “Even if you don’t have a cycle , you can rent one at the venue.
As you cycle along ECR, you are bound to meet eager runners. That lot also surfaces at the crack of dawn and glides down the stretch like gazelle.
“No matter how late we party or how much we drink, we wake up in time for our run,” says Aditi Mukherjee, a member of Coastal Runners. New Year’s run is a big deal for them. “It’s a culture we’ve established,” she adds. On weekends a section of ECR is blocked between 5am and 7am for runners and cyclists. Hundreds of enthusiasts join and it is great motivation, says Aditi.
A part of Chennai Runners, Coastal Runners was started in 2014. The group meets at Thiruvanmiyur Beach at 5.15 am and does a 10- kilometre run. For those interested in running in the evening, the group can organise a run along the coast of Thiruvanmiyur, Palavakkam and Neelankarai.
11am to 5pm
Make the most of our coast
Our enviable coastline and the therapeutic sea offer a lot more than just delicious fish. You can partake in activities like kayaking, surfing, stand up paddling. Or if you want to relax and feel like you are in an episode of the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, charter a yacht.
How about brunch or New Year’s Eve high tea on the sea. Red Boat offers yachts (accommodates eight people plus a skipper and crew member) and sailboats (six people). From birthday parties to marriage proposals, their boats have been used for a variety of occasions. Since they do not sail at night, guests choose to spend their afternoons and early evenings sailing, enjoying a meal, cutting cakes, listening to music or even fishing. It costs around ₹12,000 per hour but people don’t mind spending as they want to try out new experiences, says Sathish S of Red Boat. “During November-December, the sea tends to get a little rough but people still opt for a yacht,” he says, adding, “Depending on the condition of the sea, the boats go in around five nautical miles into the water.
Chennai’s blink and miss it winter is best enjoyed outdoors. Which explains why a lot of adventurous people trade hotel rooms for camping amidst Nature. Manoj Suriya who runs Tent ‘N’ Trek (a city-based travel startup) says, “The camping fest that we are organising for New Year’s in Yelagiri, Vagamon, Coorg, Pandrimalai, Kodaikanal, and Munnar are all sold out.”
He says that a lot of clients in the city have booked camping props for New Year’s eve. Those who choose to stay back in the city also pitch these tents in their backyards, terraces, or farmhouses or in the beach along their houses and spend the evening stargazing, barbecuing, picnicking, watching a movie and enjoying the cool breeze.
Take a break
Get some rest. You might need this time to go all out and dress up for the evening. Sequinned dresses, ice blue eye make up, sharp blazer, suit, suspenders… The last two years, on Zoom parties, it didn’t matter what you wore below. But this time don’t forget your pants or stilletos.
7pm to midnight
You might want to snag an invite to one of these as house parties are getting more fancy by the year. Picture this: people are spending upwards of three lakh for decor, with guest count of about 120-plus.
Dhiya D’Rosario who started Design Quotient, an event and wedding planning company in 2008, has been on her toes this year, ever since Deepavali. “Earlier, people used to use what was available in their homes. Now they engage us to decorate, sometimes even for an intimate dinner,” says Dhiya.
They want elaborate party decor, and are particular about everything including table ware and floral arrangement. “We also work closely with catering partners confirmed by clients to ensure the curated menus follow the theme and is presented in a certain way,” says Dhiya. Compared to last year, there has been a 40% increase in clients for house parties, she adds.
Everything is designed from scratch after a detailed discussion with the clients. For example, she recently did a Top Gun-themed party where a fighter jet was put together in 48 hours using materials such as acrylic, wood, iron an steel. The popular themes for this New Year’s house parties are neon, and green and white. “The foliage and disco ball concept are being very well received too,” she says.
After two years of toned down celebrations, people are in the mood to party this time, says Varun Ganesan, partner, Slate Hotel that houses bar and lounge Secret Story, and restaurants Bhola and Blondie and Coco Maya. Even before tickets for the New Year’s Eve bash went on sale, the hotel started receiving calls from eager revellers. “Earlier guests would buy maybe two or four passes, but this time they are doing group bookings and coming out in large numbers,” says Varun, adding that they don’t mind spending either. All three venues will have different themes and DJs.
Along with DJs, bartenders, mixologists, chefs and bouncers are set for a busy night. Most hoteliers are optimistic about this festive season. Rajesh Radhakrishnan, general manager of The Park Chennai, says, “Celebrations were quite muted for last couple of years due to various restrictions. This year’s festivities are mainly focussed on family and friends. We want to ensure that people are able to connect with their close ones and have a fun time with great memories,” he adds. Which is why, apart from the clubbing scene at Pasha, the hotel’s nightclub and a starlit party at Aqua, Lotus and 601 will turn into one large gala buffet experience, where families can come with their children and enjoy gourmet delights from across the world, along with good music.
And once you are done with these, if you still have the energy, see you on the beach at sunrise.