Yearend Travel: 10 best places to celebrate New Year’s Eve
Don’t pick the ordinary on New Year’s Eve. Whether you're keeping it small or going all-out, bring in 2024 in style. Here are the top 10 places in the world.
December 31 marks the last day on the Gregorian calendar and it is one of the oldest holidays in the Western cultures. The first known record of New Year’s celebrations began about 2000 B.C. in Mesopotamia. Now, it is one of the largest global celebrations across the world. As the year gets ready to close, pack your packs and plan a trip to any of the Top 10 places in the world famous for their New Year’s Eve celebration.
Sydney, Australia: As the clock winds down in December, the atmosphere in Sydney becomes electric. The events feature one of the world’s largest, most technologically advanced displays of fireworks, lighting and projections. If you can beat the crowd, do a midnight Sydney Harbour cruise. Sydney New Year’s Eve plays live to more than 1 million spectators along the Sydney Harbour foreshore, and reaches a global audience of more than 425 million.
Best Spot: Sydney Opera House & Sydney Harbour
Highlight: One of the world’s largest, most technologically advanced displays of fireworks, lighting and projections
New York, USA: Minutes before midnight of December 31, eyes of the world turn to the dazzling lights and bustling energy of Times Square. Anticipation runs high and people holds their breath. As the clocks strike 12, the famous New Year's Eve Ball descends from the flagpole atop One Times Square. More than a million people gather at the Times Square for the Ball drop, get there early to find an inch for your feet.
Best Spot: Times Square
Highlight: The big Ball Drop
Edinburgh, Scotland: Hogmanay is the Scottish word for the last day of the year or New Year’s Eve and Edinburgh's Hogmanay Street Party is always in the ‘Top 100 things to do before you die’ list. The big events include a torchlight procession and other entertainment on December 30, a massive outdoor street party, concerts, and fireworks on December 31, and then smaller public entertainment options on January 1, including a family-friendly ceilidh, a social event with Scottish or Irish folk music and singing, traditional dancing, and storytelling.
Best Spot: Start at Edinburgh's Old Town – North Bridge, South Bridge and St. Giles Cathedral.
Highlight: The world’s biggest rendition of Auld Lang Syne
Chiang Mai, Thailand: Imagine hundreds of people lined along the banks of a river with lit paper lanterns in their hands. According to Thai tradition, releasing a lantern in the sky symbolises new beginnings and good luck. And as the clock strikes 12, a wish is made and the lanterns are released in the sky, turning the dark night into a glorious spectacle. And then begins the music madness. Head to the North Gate that hosts a vibrant scene of clubs and bars that offer a party atmosphere to the night.
Best Spot: Along the banks of the Ping river
Highlight: Hundreds of paper lanterns in the sky
Mexico: Wear colourful underwear, carry 12 grapes and head to the beaches for Nochevieja, or New Year’s Eve celebration that is marked by fireworks and partying. Pick your underwear carefully - red means love, yellow means money or luck and white means peace. Eating 12 grapes at midnight brings good vibes and luck every month. Remember, you have to eat all 12 grapes in 60 seconds. Drop a gold ring into a glass of champagne and quaff it for good luck. It is a tad tricky, though. You cannot take the ring out of the glass until after you have finished drinking it and hugged everyone in the room.
Best Spot: Beaches of Cancun & Playa del Carmen
Highlight: Rituals of showing up in underwear only & eating 12 grapes at midnight
Copenhagen, Denmark: Had a bad year? And want to vent that looming angst or say $%^&* to 2023. Just carry crockery and throw it at your neighbours’ doors. The more dishes you break, the better luck you’ll have over the next year. That’s what the Danes do on New Years’ Eve. In Copenhagen, get out in the streets and feel the celebratory vibes at firework hotspots in the city, but make sure to take the precaution of wearing safety glasses, just in case.
Best Spots: City Hall Square, Dronning Louises Bro, The Copenhagen Lakes
Highlight: Fireworks, jumping off of chairs, champagne, and throwing crockery at neighbours’ doors.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Remember, December is summertime in Brazil. Not surprisingly, two million people gather on the 2.5-mile-long Copacabana for samba, champagne and fireworks on New Year’s Eve. Wear white. Everyone wears white in Brazil on new year’s eve in honour of Iemanjá, the the Goddess of the Sea. By early afternoon Copacabana is a sea of people and glowing candles as the macumba rituals are played out. Midnight is usually signalled by a spectacular fireworks and parties are held in the road, in oceanfront apartments, in all the ocean front hotels, as well as on boats and cruise ships.
Best Spot: Copacabana
Highlight: Samba, candles & champagne
Naples, Italy: The new year’s eve starts with a concert organised in Piazza del Plebiscito that will guide you to the countdown for midnight. Then, move to the seafront, in the area of Castel dell’Ovo for a show of fireworks. And do not be surprised if you find lots of families throwing old pots, pans, clothes, appliances, even furniture out of the window. Really! It’s meant to symbolise letting go of past unhappiness to usher a better year.
Best Spot: San Martino viewpoint or the Posillipo hill
Highlight: Throwing old pots, pans, clothes, appliances, even furniture out of the window
Paris, France: New Year’s eve or La Réveillon de Saint Sylvestre as it's known in France is usually classic French dinner, especially combined with a romantic cruise along the River Seine and everything topped off with champagne.
Best Spot: Eiffel Tower
Highlight: Sharing a midnight kiss by the Eiffel Tower
Reykjavik, Iceland: Think fire. Fireworks in the sky. Bonfires on the ground. The Icelandic capital has a New Year’s Eve routine: Before midnight on New Year's Eve, people have a nice dinner, flock to bonfires around town and then watch a satirical comedy show on TV at 10:30 PM called Aramotaskaup, or Skaupid. That translates to the New Year's Spoof, or simply The Spoof and has been running since 1966. Remember, to wear protective glasses. You never know, the man standing next to you might shoot a firework.
Best Spot: Watch fireworks by Hallgrimskirkja Church or Perian. See the fireworks mirrored in Reykjavik’s Lake Tjornin.
Highlight: Lots of fireworks.