A world apart – New Year’s Eve 2021 celebrations in Thailand and Denmark

Countdown at Koh Phangan – Photo: Lasse Sandholdt

We have entered a new year, 2022. A year that many hope will mean the end of the Covid crisis. The disease is however still influencing a lot of daily life today. Recent New Year’s celebrations around the world showed that Covid was still a factor that countries had to deal with. But it also showed a big difference in what role Covid played at different New Year’s celebrations worldwide.

ScandAsia talked with Danes who celebrated New Year in Thailand and Danes who celebrated the event in Denmark and the difference in the celebration shows.

New Year’s in Thailand

In Thailand, the government has slowly retracted some of the extensive restrictions that they implemented after the major outbreak hit the country following the Songkran celebration in April 2021.

For the 2021 New Year’s celebration, Thailand had chosen a somewhat liberal approach by allowing major countdown events to take place under strict compliance with the Public Health Ministry’s guidelines. Thailand events went as far as extending the hours normally allowed for alcohol sales and on New Year’s Eve, vendors were allowed to serve drinks until 1 am on 1 January.  

One of the places in Thailand that are revered for its New Year’s party is the island of Koh Phangan. Famously known for its Fullmoon parties, which take place monthly on the beach of Haad Rin, the island’s New Year Countdown Party is known for its bright neon colors, DJ concerts, and spectacular fireworks. It is also known for the big turn op of visitors from all around the world.

Anna Østerlund and Amalie Hansen – Photo: Lasse Sandholdt

Among the guests who attended this New Year Countdown party in Koh Phangan were Anna Østerlund (22) and Amalie Hansen (23) both from Aarhus in Denmark.

The two friends arrived in Thailand on 7 October and it had been their plan from the beginning to spend New Year’s Eve on the Fullmoon party beach in Koh Phangan.

“We knew we were going to go here for Christmas and New Year. Koh Phangan is just the place to be at this time,” Anna says.

The pair feel very fortunate that Thailand has allowed for a relatively unrestricted party. They know that New Year’s celebrations elsewhere have been more limited due to Covid.

“We have a lot of friends in Denmark who are celebrating New Year’s at home five or six people together. They are telling us that the Covid situation is very bad in Denmark right now and that we shouldn’t go home at this time,” Amalie says and adds:

“So, we know that we are lucky to get to experience this”.

Although the girls attended the party, they were not completely untouched by Covid worries.

“We are definitely worried about the risk of getting Covid. We know that they don’t test as much down here and that the numbers are therefore probably worse than the statistics show. But we are both fully vaccinated and are at a point now where we think, well if we get Covid, shit happens” Anna says.

New Year’s in Denmark

The situation is very different in Denmark where the country chose to close down the nightlife on 19 December. This means that restaurants and cafés have to close between 11 pm and 5 am and in addition, alcohol sale has been banned between 10 pm and 5 am. These restrictions came with strong encouragements from government officials and health experts to limit private New Year’s gatherings to an absolute minimum.

In Aarhus (Denmark) Niels Flensborg was celebrating New Year with a small group of eight friends. Niels is actually positive about this type of party. Hear his thoughts on New Year 2021 in this video.

In general, however, Niels is somewhat frustrated with the restrictions.

“Of course, I am tired of the restrictions. I do comedy and the restrictions make it very hard for me to do my job. But there is just nothing to do about it. We just have to wait,” Niels says.

Asked whether he believes that the Danish people will comply with the government guidelines for New Year’s Eve celebrations, he is skeptical.

“The bars are of course closed, so you can’t go there. But the people who are invited to big private parties will probably go there. I don’t think you can do much about that,” Niels says.

About Lasse Sandholdt

ScandAsia Journalist • Scandinavian Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

View all posts by Lasse Sandholdt

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