Where are you planning to ring in the New Year this holiday season? Whether you have your eye on the Big Apple or on sunnier climes like Rio de Janeiro, here’s our round-up of the best places to shout, ‘Happy New Year!’ when the clock strikes twelve.
Around the world, people gather in the streets to celebrate the New Year in very similar ways. There’s parties, champagne, fireworks, dancing and always lots of food. But each country has its own little twist. If you’re looking to celebrate the beginning of 2017 somewhere exciting and new, why not ring in the New Year at a torchlit procession in Edinburgh, or by watching beachfront fireworks in Rio, or going for a midnight dip in a hot spring in Reykjavik?
Which destination will you pick?
If you’re looking for a spot off the beaten path for New Year’s Eve, then Napa Valley is it. While it buzzes in summer and fall, the northern part of California is a quiet and laid-back place in winter. Ring in the new year at a party in a vintner’s cellar or wine cave, attend a multi-course dinner at a top restaurant or book your stay in a cosy countryside inn and spend the New Year tucked up inside with some wine and cheese for two, by the fire.
In the Scottish capital, the annual Hogmanay New Year’s celebrations last three days in a huge street festival. On December 30th, thousands gather for a candle-lit procession from Parliament Square to Calton Hill, where fireworks kick off the festivities.
On December 31st, the world’s largest rendition of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is sung at midnight and on New Year’s Day the celebrations continue with ceilidhs featuring traditional songs and dancing, plus theatre performances happening all over the city.
Why not celebrate New Year’s Eve in the middle of summer? Sydney’s harbour fills up with boats full of revelers, the best place to see the world’s biggest fireworks display shoot off from Harbour Bridge. Or, rent a boat to take you to Cockatoo Island, a popular camping spot, to see the show from there.
Spend the rest of your time in Sydney enjoying its beautiful beaches. Traveling on a budget? Check out our tips for how to experience Sydney for FREE!
St. Petersburg’s wide boulevards and pretty European-influenced buildings are a charming sight when dusted with snow. Some friends may think you’re crazy for going to Russia in the middle of winter, but we say there’s no better time to experience real Russia than in the snow. Crowds gather around the grand Hermitage Museum on December 31st to see the fireworks display over the Neva River. At midnight, thousands of paper lanterns are sent up into the sky and the champagne bubbles out from bottles uncorked in the streets.
Rio de Janeiro
New Year’s in Rio is all about parties on the beach and in the streets, since it’s the height of their summer season. More than two million partygoers head to the beach to watch the city’s fireworks display from out on the water. Copacabana Beach is the best place to enjoy the celebrations, with live music kicking off at 8pm.
It’s local custom to wear white on New Year’s Eve, as it’s said to bring good luck in the New Year.
If you’re heading to the British capital to celebrate your last few days of 2016, you’ll be hard struck to pick which New Year’s Party to go to when you book flights to London. To watch the fireworks show along the Thames, the city’s official celebration, you’ll need a ticket. If you don’t manage to get one, why not try the razzle-dazzle affair that The Ritz puts on every year? Cocktails and Champagne at the Art Deco bar will send you back in time. Or for a more casual affair, roll up to a local pub to celebrate with a pint in hand, clinking glasses with some locals.
New Year’s in Iceland is dark. The country only has 4 hours of daylight in December, but that doesn’t put a damper on the celebrations. Reykjavik, the world’s northernmost capital, parties like no one else! Community bonfires kick off the celebrations, symbolizing the burning away of last year’s troubles and struggles. People sing, dance and play music. At midnight, crowds gather at Landakotskirkja Church for views of the official fireworks display.
How to deal with a hang-over in Iceland? Hit the hot springs on New Year’s Day to let it soak away.
Have you ever rung in the new year in your bathing suit, sipping Mojitos? This could be the year you do! Catch a flight to the Bahamas and celebrate the beginning of 2017 with Junkanoo street parades, beach parties and fireworks around the islands. The parades have a fun, colorful Mardi-Gras feel to them and take place on January 1st. Freeport is definitely the place to be on New Year’s Day.
Walt Disney World
New Year’s Eve at Walt Disney World is a spectacular choice for families. The park stays open until 1am and has fun-filled activities planned all day long leading up to the fireworks display at midnight. Cirque du Soleil performances, dance parties, live music and entertainment are just some of the treats they have in store. Plus, the park is typically less crowded at Christmastime than at other times of the year, so say goodbye to long lines.
What would a round-up of the best places to celebrate New Year’s Eve be without including the Big Apple? For many travelers, seeing the ball drop in Times Square is one of the most iconic experiences you can have on New Year’s Eve. If you don’t fancy spending the evening outside in the cold, surrounded by millions, nearby hotels with views of Times Square, the Renaissance Hotel for example, throw killer parties at a price to match.