Dream locations to spend New Year’s Eve
Make sure your next New Year’s Eve goes off with more bang than fizz, with one of these global parties.
We all know the feeling. As soon as spring begins to show its face, a chilling panic sets in. We face one question, and one question only: what should I do for New Year’s Eve?
The fear is real. Post Christmas, the night can easily become a huge anti-climax, and that is really not how you want to start the New Year.
If you want the end-of-year celebrations to be one for the history books, pick one of these fabulous travel destinations for explosive New Year’s Eve celebrations.
1. Sydney Harbour, Australia
You know the old saying. Why go out for burgers when you can have a world-renowned firework display with literally tonnes of pyrotechnics exploding over one of the world’s prettiest harbours, at home?
In terms of global New Year’s Eve celebrations, Australia is one of the first countries to celebrate the arrival of the coming year. This means that across the world, soon-to-be New Year revellers tune in to see Sydney fireworks shoot up into the night sky. Not. bad way to begin celebrations, hey?
While fireworks can be seen all over the city, top vantage points for the famous harbour include the Sydney Opera House, the Royal Botanic Gardens, The Rocks, and even Taronga Zoo. Some entries require tickets, others an early start. All of them offer astounding views.
2. Meiji Shrine, Tokyo, Japan
Experience a very traditional New Year’s in Japan, a country where the emphasis is on preparing yourself spiritually for the year to come. As with many other shrines and temples around Japan, on New Year’s Eve the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo is where the practice of Hatsumōde can be witnessed.
Hatsumōde refers to the first shrine or temple visit of the New Year. At the Meiji Shrine on New Year’s Eve, worshippers will queue for hours throughout the night to be among the first to pray for good fortune in the new year. At midnight, the New Year is marked at temples with the ringing of bells. It is then that attendees can start their prayers.
The celebration doesn’t stop there. Across the New Year period in Japan, you’ll spot multi-tiered lacquerware boxes known as Jubako, filled with Osechi Ryori food. These delectable Japanese dishes include homemade mochi, black beans (kuromame), herring roe (kazunoko) and sweet chestnuts (kachiguri), many signifying luck and happiness.
3. Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany
There are many experiences to be had on a Berlin New Year’s – including hiding out on your balcony with trays of raclette and avoiding spontaneous fire-cracker displays, thoughtfully thrown in the air by those below. But one of the most famous has to be the huge street party underneath the Brandenberg Gate.
So, what will you find at one of the world’s biggest New Year’s Eve parties? As guests await the countdown, almost two dozen acts play, with stars as diverse as rapper Tream and Ireland’s Riverdance, as street food and dancing abound. And the best thing? Tickets are a bargain at only 10 euros ($16.50).
4. Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Pack your little white dress and don’t wear your nice shoes: this Brazilian beach party is quite literally all about diving right in.
While a whopping 14 tonnes of fireworks have gone off in the past on Rio de Janeiro’s famous Copacabana Beach when the clock strikes 12, it is perhaps the significance placed on rituals that makes this Réveillon celebration (the local name for New Year’s Eve) extra special for the millions of attendees.
Firstly, partygoers arrive wearing white. the colour is worn in respect to the African religion of Candomblé, specifically as a gesture of faith to Iemanjá (or Yemanjá), the queen of the sea.
Before midnight countless offerings are made to Iemanjá; boats loaded with offerings are pushed out, flowers are tossed into the waves and jumps over seven waves are undertaken, to make seven wishes to the orixás (spirits). As drums roll and handheld candles flicker around you, maybe you’ll make your own leap.
5. Jackson Square, New Orleans, USA
Besides its world-famous Mardi Gras celebration, this is perhaps the second biggest party you will find on the lively streets of New Orleans, Louisiana. And it’s in Jackson Square – home to the ‘Fleur de Lis drop’ at JAX Brewery – where the festivities are centred.
Elsewhere in the French Quarter, you’ll find ‘balcony bashes’ above the bars (and booze flowing inside), raucous patrons dancing on the streets, drag cabaret and all kinds of live jazz a-playin’, from intimate sets to adrenaline-filled crowds.
All this means that although there is a dazzling display of fireworks over the Mississippi River at midnight, no one is surprised when, for many New Orleans residents, the party goes until dawn.
6. Princes Street, Edinburgh, Scotland
Forget about New Year’s Eve. If you’re in the Scottish capital come 31 December, you celebrate Hogmanay. A tradition that dates back over 400 years, Hogmanay is a combination of pagan traditions like elaborate fire ceremonies and modern quirks like throwing yourself into the freezing River Forth for the ‘Loony Dook’.
In Edinburgh, as well as an enormous street party attended by tens of thousands, the three-day festivities over the New Year are marked by tonnes of ceremonies and parties. There are social visits with dancing (known as cèilidhs), the famous torchlight procession (complete with fire performers and drummers), fireworks over Edinburgh Castle, and one of the world’s largest renditions of Auld Lang Syne as the bells finally ring in the New Year.
So, raise your glass of Scotch whisky and cry slàinte! It’s time to celebrate the year past – and the one yet to come.