New Year’s Eve is the one annual party no one ever wants to miss. But that means the pressure is quickly on: everyone is planning big parties with their friends, or trips to exotic destinations. Don’t worry – if you’re not really sure where you want to celebrate yet, I’ve got some good tips for you! Now I’m not going to lie – the list below consists of the most popular places to go on New Year’s Eve and the most famous celebrations around the world, so they are quite touristy, but you should join in the party at each of these places at least once! My next list will explore lesser known but also fantastic places to celebrate New Years Eve.
The traditional “ball drop” in Times Square has taken place every year since 1906. Each year, over one million people gather in the freezing cold and join the countdown into the New Year. A spectacular display of fireworks and performances by various artists round off the ultimate Time Square party-experience. Unless you’re claustrophobic; in that case, you may want to watch the madness from the window of a fancy high-rise!
If you rather party in your bikini forget about New York and book the first ticket to Brazil. If you’re looking for places to go on New Year’s Eve and are in need of summer temperatures, then there’s no place better than the Copacabana Beach. What better way to start the New Year than with Brazilian rhythms, a big party and fireworks? Be sure to arrive at Copacabana Beach early and set up camp for the night. It gets extremely busy here so if you don’t want to spend the majority of your night queuing up for drinks and food, bring your own cooler and you’re good to go. A lot of pick-pocketing goes down here so don’t bring any valuables – go old school and bring your throw-away camera to be on the safe side.
If you used to like watching the New Year’s celebrations around the world with your parents, you will already know Sydney is first in line for the countdown. If you want to have a head-start over everyone else this year, hop on a plane to Sydney and be sure to secure yourself the best view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. As the clock strikes midnight, the bridge and the Opera House light up with millions of sparklers and other light displays. The only down side to a place with a view, is that alcohol is not allowed in the prominent public areas; on the positive side however, you might find yourself appreciating not being surrounded by a bunch of dorky drunks because it will take you a looong time to get home and having to spend all that time with obnoxious party-people might get a bit tiring after a while.
The biggest show in town is on the South Bank where you have the best view of the London Eye. Since London hosted the Olympics in 2011, the city has become known for the hypnotic firework displays over the river Thames. Due to the amount of people making their way to the South Bank for New Year’s Eve, prime locations around the South Bank are now ticketed, but at £10 per ticket, it’s not a big price to pay for the amazing show you’ll get to experience. Buying your ticket in advance will also allow for a more leisurely experience: you won’t have to set up camp in the early afternoon to ensure your spot won’t be taken; you can make your way there two hours prior to the countdown and join in the party without much hassle.
One of the best places to go on New Year’s Eve is Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour – this is a spectacle you’ll likely never forget. Famous for its colorful, pyromusical display it attracts millions of people on an annual basis. A great advantage for celebrating your New Year’s Eve here, are all the places from which to view the countdown. If you don’t fancy getting lost in the crowds, you can opt to watch the show from afar, either from a boat, a skyscraper or the shoreline. Either way, you can rest assured it will be an unforgettable experience!
As you already know, I’m a big fan of Berlin and would recommend anyone to visit this lively city whenever they get the chance. But December in particular, is a great time to make the trip! On the 31st of December the Strasse des 17ten Juni near the Brandenburger Tor turns into one giant street party starting at 2pm. Artists encourage the party mode on the main stage and amazing fireworks go off from dusk till dawn. The whole city turns into a peaceful warzone shooting off brightly colored fireworks, sparklers and revelers that dance into the New Year! Be aware though: not only are people free to drink anywhere around the city, but people really do get crazy with their fireworks and set them off from just about anywhere: stairwells, around the trams, off roof terraces, balconies etc. If you’re a jumpy person, count on several wee-heart-attacks throughout the night! The Berliners really are a species of their own when it comes to their carefree method behind blasting fireworks. New Year’s Eve in Berlin is definitely dangerously exciting!
In a city that is a 24/7 party in itself, you can only imagine what New Year’s Eve in Vegas is like! The whole Strip is shut down to keep the traffic out and let the people in. The entire Strip fills up with people dancing, singing and drinking. At midnight casinos start launching fireworks from their roofs or pool areas turning the whole place into an orgy of light and sparklers. It is quite a surreal sight, and a great way to ring in the New Year. If you book in advance you can usually get an awesome room and a good price for your Vegas-style celebrations.
As this city does not like to be outdone, everything needs to be bigger better, and more ridiculous than in any other city in the world, so you can rest assured: ending your year in Dubai will be nothing short of spectacular. As per usual, Dubai has already broken the world record for the largest and longest firework display in the world and they’re not planning on stopping there! Amazing shows can be seen at Burj Khalifa where the show revolves around a different theme each year. Last year, the entire Dubai sky lit up with light and light beams conveying a futurist theme that embraced the city’s 2020 vision. The whole display lasts for twenty minutes, and if you still haven’t had enough after that, you can still catch the fireworks at Burj Al Arab or Atlantis, The Palm.
If you want to start the New Year with a bang, Bangkok is the right place for you! Yes, that pun was totally intended. The Central World Mall is a great starting point; here you can toast to new beginnings during a romantic rooftop dinner with champagne, whilst watching the elaborate firework displays from up close. If you’re in need of even more excitement and possible entertainment for the kids, the Asiatique open-air mall along the Chao Phraya River will be right up your street. There are more than forty restaurants around here as well as a night-market, in case you feel like starting the year with a new wardrobe and accessories. The Asiatique is also home to the Joe Louis Traditional Thai Puppet Theatre which is always a big hit with little travellers.
If you really dig the New Year’s celebrations, why not turn it into a three-night event instead of just the one night? Didn’t think that was possible? In Scotland, it is. The Scots celebrate Hogmanay, meaning the focus isn’t just on December 31st, but also the first day of the New Year and even the day after. One of the major New Year’s Eve/Hogmanay traditions is the “first-foot”, i.e. the first person to enter your home after midnight. This person brings gifts such as whiskey, black buns or salt as a symbol of prosperity for the year to come. A dark, male “first-footer” is usually preferred seeing as some regions deem female or fair-haired first-footers to be unlucky. Edinburgh has become one of the most popular places to go on New Year’s Eve and in the mid-nineties, it even went down in the Guinness Book of Records as biggest New Year’s Party in the world. During the evening, people take to town for the Torchlight Procession which is really cool to watch and participate in; the procession ends in Calton Hill where a Viking long-ship is set on fire. The atmosphere here is incredibly special and will be one you’ll remember forever!