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New Year’s Eve is a special time for many people around the world. It’s a time of togetherness, gratitude, and hope as we look back at the year that was, and look forward to the year to come. But it’s also a time for captivating fireworks displays and joyful parties, and in that regard, there are definitely some destinations that do New Year’s events better than others. Some cities take their fireworks shows to new heights, while others have fun, colorful traditions that give a deeper meaning to the day. If you plan on traveling during this time of year and want to go somewhere memorable, these are the best places to celebrate New Year’s Eve.
1. New York City
Is there a more iconic place to spend New Year’s Eve than New York City? After all, it’s home to the famous ball drop in Times Square, a tradition that’s been around since 1907 and still draws huge crowds to this day. Although you can watch the ball drop from the street, you’ll be waiting in the cold for hours in order to ensure a spot and won’t be able to move even to go to the bathroom. So snagging a spot in the lounge of the Renaissance New York Times Square hotel might be a better option.
But there’s more to NYE in NYC than this one famous event. There are actually parties in NYC for New Year’s Eve right across the city in its rooftop bars and communal events in all five boroughs. However, one of the best ways to catch the night’s fireworks is aboard a cruise on the Hudson River.
2. Rio de Janeiro
Everyone knows that Rio de Janeiro likes to party thanks to its iconic Carnival celebrations, so there’s no way that the Brazilian city is going to take it easy on NYE. What makes the parties on New Year’s Eve so much fun in Rio is that the city takes it to the beach.
It’s estimated that around two million people flock to Copacabana Beach for the festivities, which include concerts and fireworks. Local traditions for New Year’s include wearing white and jumping in the surf after the clock strikes midnight so that you can jump over seven waves while making wishes for the New Year.
Thanks to time zones, the first major international city in the world to hit the new year is Sydney, Australia. Sydney is famous for iconic landmarks like the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, and both landmarks are heavily featured in the celebrations.
The main event for New Year’s Eve in Sydney is the dramatic fireworks display that make the city’s harbor even more beautiful. While the big moment takes place at 12 AM, the city holds an extra Family Fireworks display at 9 PM so little ones can see it before going to bed. The fireworks, which often use the Harbour Bridge as a backdrop, run for 12 minutes, one minute for each month of the year.
4. Las Vegas
Sin City is already a party destination, so you know that when it comes to the best places to celebrate the New Year in the USA it’s going to be on the list. Las Vegas gets primed for the big night by closing off the Strip to vehicles, allowing revelers to gather and mingle in one huge block party.
Come midnight, the city’s casinos put together a huge fireworks display from the roofs of their buildings. As for what’s going on indoors, special concerts and shows are put on for the evening in the casinos, while nightclubs host glamorous star-studded parties. Basically, wherever you go in Las Vegas for NYE, there’s going to be something special going on.
Few places are quite as famous for their nightlife as Bangkok, so it should be no surprise that the Thai capital knows how to end the year on a high note. What’s nice about New Year’s Eve in the capital is that you can choose what form it takes.
You won’t have any trouble finding clubs and New Year’s Eve bars to party in if you head to Khaosan Road or Royal City Avenue. There are also major shopping malls like Siam Discovery and Central World which put on light displays and concerts for young and old. In terms of fireworks in Bangkok, it’s best to head ICONSIAM, by the Chao Phraya River, and witness their larger-than-life fireworks exhibition.
The city of London is always up for a celebration, so it relishes the chance to start the year off in style. Many of the most iconic London monuments and landmarks play a role in the city’s festivities as well, creating an experience you could only get in London.
Fireworks are launched along the River Thames, as well as from the top of the London Eye, however you’ll need tickets for a frontrow view by the water. Other good vantage points to watch the pyrotechnics from include hilltops like Primrose Hill and Parliament Hill, or panoramic bars like Sky Garden and London Sky Bar. Once midnight arrives, the New Year is usually announced by the bells of Big Ben.
7. Cape Town
Yet another reason to visit beautiful Cape Town is the New Year’s Eve celebration there. This beautiful coastal city in South Africa hosts an amazing end of year festival that showcases the best aspects of life.
Along the city’s V&A waterfront you’ll find all kinds of free entertainment, from live music to circus performances and everything in between. Then there are the street parties like on Long Street in the city center, and a family-friendly concert at Kirstenbosch Gardens. And let’s not forget Cape Town’s midnight fireworks, best viewed from up on Table Mountain, although you’ll need to drive up to see them as the cable car stops at 9.30pm.
In a city that loves spectacle and excess like Dubai you know that the New Year’s Eve celebrations are going to be unforgettable. Not content with just the world’s tallest building, the Emirati city has also laid claim to the world’s largest fireworks display.
Dubai’s most impressive fireworks center round two of its most important landmarks, the Burj Khalifa and the Burj Al Arab, with accompanying light shows that are sure to dazzle. The pyrotechnics at the Burj Khalifa last for twenty minutes once the clocks strike 12 and are best seen from one of the restaurants that face the tower. As for the Burj Al Arab fireworks, Black Palace Beach offers a great vantage point.
9. Hong Kong
One of Asia’s most fascinating destinations, Hong Kong is also the setting for one of the continent’s best New Year’s Eve celebrations. Victoria Harbour is a defining part of the city, so it’s only right that it be the center of attention on NYE. The stroke of midnight is accompanied by a barrage of sensational fireworks that brighten up the sky over Victoria Harbour and last for ten minutes. Because of its marine setting, many people take to boats and ferries for the perfect view.
The best part about celebrating New Year’s Eve in Hong Kong is that you don’t have to wait too long for another epic celebration when the Lunar New Year hits in January or February.
The end of the year is a special time in Edinburgh, more than perhaps anywhere else on this list, because it brings about Hogmanay. An incredible event that brings with it three days of festivities, Hogmanay guarantees that the Scottish city is one of the best places for New Year celebrations in the world.
There’s plenty of drama to take in during Hogmanay, from a majestic Viking procession under torchlight, to towering bonfires, concerts, street parties, and fireworks. Because the celebrations last for several days, it actually kicks off on December 30th and continues through New Year’s Day, when it’s tradition to take a dip in the freezing River Forth.
To find a place in Europe to party the night away on December 31st, you need only look to the German capital, Berlin. The city is known for its lively and unrestrained nightlife, making it the perfect place to ring in the New Year. But you won’t need to find your way to an underground club on NYE, as Berlin brings the party to the streets, with a sprawling street party between the Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column.
This huge gathering runs from the afternoon on to 3 am and draws massive crowds. Of course, you can spend the evening in the city’s clubs, but that will mean missing the laser shows and fireworks displays. Either way, there’ll be plenty of people to toast the New Year with.
Seeing as it’s one of the most romantic places on Earth, Paris is clearly one of the best places to spend New Year’s Eve for couples wanting a romantic evening. Who doesn’t want to start the New Year kissing their special someone in a romantic city like Paris?
Spending New Year’s Eve in Paris can take many forms, but usually involves free-flowing champagne. Perhaps the most popular activity is watching the Eiffel Tower’s radiant light show. Another excellent choice is to venture over to Montmartre to get a good vantage point for the city’s fireworks. Easily the busiest spot though is the crowded street party along the Champs-Elysees.
While the city of Vienna is especially famous for its Christmas markets, it also puts on an incredible show to mark the start of the New Year. In fact, Vienna actually converts its Christmas markets into New Year markets that sell Glühwein and various good luck trinkets.
But there’s much more to Vienna’s celebrations than the markets. Most famous is probably the New Year’s Eve Trail or Silvesterpfad, which features a series of events and concerts that run right through the historical center of Vienna. Then there’s the pedestrian street of Graben, which transforms into a sprawling open-air ballroom as local dancing schools teach crowds of people to waltz. But the most extravagant event is surely the New Year’s Eve Ball held at the Hofburg Palace.
14. New Orleans
Mardi Gras is proof that the city of New Orleans knows how to party, and the city brings a similar energy to its New Year’s celebrations. And much like with Mardi Gras, the French Quarter is the center of attention on NYE.
Now, while there’s plenty of fun to be had on the balconies of the French Quarter, they are just one of the options for revelry. Jackson Square is actually the main site for New Year’s Eve in New Orleans, as it hosts live music and its own version of the Times Square ball drop. Then there’s the magical fireworks display a short walk away over the Mississippi River. Other events throughout the day include the Allstate Sugar Bowl NYE Parade and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve which is live streamed across the U.S.
Iceland may seem a long way to travel to celebrate New Year’s Eve, but like the country, its celebrations are worth the journey. Reykjavik is the natural starting point for visits to Iceland which works out well as it’s the easiest place to experience a traditional Icelandic New Year’s Eve.
Celebrations in Reykjavik begin with ten community bonfires that are lit around the city at 8pm and draw practically the entire city out to see them. As there are no official fireworks displays in Reykjavik, it’s common to see fireworks at random points in the evening. Typically though, the fireworks start around 11:30pm and build up until midnight. With the fireworks over, locals then head to clubs, pubs, and house parties and continue celebrating into the early hours.
Clearly, while there are some similarities in the celebrations around the world, there are plenty of special places for you to go for New Year’s Eve. No matter where you choose, we hope you have a Happy New Year all the same!