Perhaps the most deliberately hedonistic of all celebrations throughout the year, New Year’s Eve is when we give in to all sorts of indulgences before the restrictive resolutions are put into action. People head out on the town, champagne flows, music blasts from every corner and awe-inspiring firework displays light up the skies. Here’s where the turn of the year gets a really special entourage.
Why Sydney? Thanks to its location, it is among the first major cities to welcome the new year. How cool is that? The harbor attracts more than 1.5 million revelers with numerous waterfront events, including traditional rituals by the indigenous people and a spectacular Harbour of Lights Parade with more than 50 illuminated cruise boats circuiting the harbor all night. If you want to melt with the crowd lege artis, remember the wardrobe color of choice is black. If you don’t feel like being part of the collective New Year frenzy, though, lay down a blanket at North Head of Sydney Harbour National Park, a relatively tranquil vantage point for gazing at the phenomenal pyrotechnic displays of over 80,000 fireworks traditionally set off from the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Scots do know how to party, and it is quite obviously the capital with the stunning backdrop of Edinburgh Castle that attracts the greatest crowds. The four-day Hogmaney celebrations starting on December 29th with the torchlight parade last well until January 1st or even 2nd and feature anything from live music, outdoor bar events, massive street parties, concerts in the Gardens and folk dancing lessons at the Keilidh. When the clock strikes twelve, be prepared for deafening bursts of fireworks and the communal singing of Auld Lang Syne followed by a traditional kissathon in which thousands are expected to exchange friendly kisses.
Venice is magical all year round and the splendor culminates for La Festa di San Silvestro, when the fireworks lit up the sky, music blasts from St. Mark’s Square and wild partying lasts until the crack of dawn. The city offers a compelling blend of romantic charm and the glitz of high society events, including the Golden Opera New Year’s Eve performance and the New Year’s concert at La Fenice Theater.
Tradition wise, try a typical lentil dish that symbolizes good fortune, take a dip at the Lido Beach if you dare, share a communal kiss at the stroke of midnight, and watch your head as some Venetians still practice an old custom of throwing useless things out their windows, which is to signify purification before the New year is entered. The turn of the year kick-starts a series of joyous events, and if you’re still around on the 6th of January, make sure you catch a glimpse of the Befana races, when local men clad in women’s clothes race boats along the Grand Canal.
As a former hippie paradise and a realm of swaying palms, snow-white sands and sparkling waters, Goa seems to be the perfect place to start your new year with a bang. Visitors go gaga over psychedelic trance parties in the open air while locals stick to their long-established traditions and feast in the little villages scattered all over the island. Whatever you do, your New Year stay in Goa is going to be marked with triple “f”: foof, fun and feni (a type of fiery liquor made from either coconut or the juice of the cashew apple).
With the reputation of the most alluring Spanish party hub, Barcelona certainly doesn’t slow down for Noche Vieja. Las Ramblas, Plaça Catalunya and the Plaça Reial fill up with thousands of merrymakers who dance, sing, bar hop and wait for Spaniards’ beloved New Year’s Eve tradition. When the clock strikes midnight, everyone eats one grape per chime, with each grape signifying good luck for the twelve months of the upcoming year. Then the party really gets into full swing. From rock to salsa and flamenco, whatever music you fancy, you’ll find a spot for yourself in Barcelona. Yet if indoor events are not your thing, head over to the beach and gaze at star or crawl from bar to bar in the Olympic Port. If you manage to greet the morning at the waterfront, don’t miss an almost traditional breakfast of hot chocolate and churros.
Whether you fancy raving clubs with renowned DJ’s spinning their stuff, private parties or collective outdoor countdowns and firework extravaganza, Bangkok doesn’t fall short of world-class attractions on New Year’s Eve. The major countdown takes place in front of Central World Square, with several hundred thousand people greeting the New Year, dazzled with fabulous light shows and accompanied by live on-stage performances by popular local artists.
If outdoor gatherings don’t appeal to you, go a little more intimate and splash out on a candle-lit dinner at one of the riverside hotel restaurants or posh rooftop venues. You’ll get gourmet food, privacy and some of the best views of the firework displays. If you’re on a tight budget and prefer a more dynamic locale, dance the night away in one of the clubs along the Khao San Road, but of course, there are hundreds of other venues around the city. This way or the other, you’re not going to be bored in Bangkok at this time of year.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Of course nothingcompares to Carnival parades, but 2.5 million folks gathering onbrightly illuminated Copacabana know how to turn Rio into a world’sgreatest New Year’s Eve party under the open sky. The celebrationsfall smack in the middle of the summer season in Brazil,
which boilsdown to skimpy outfits, amazingly shaped bodies, high temperaturesand sizzling beach life. On that special night, stages are setalong the beach with live music shows and the stroke of midnight setsoff a spectacular fireworks display launched from boats anchored in asafe distance from the beach.
If you want to stick to Cariocas’tradition, wear white to symbolically undergo a spiritual renewal andleave your problems behind. As part of an offering to Yemanja, thedeity of the seas, a lot of people throw flowers into the water orbuy specially prepared miniature beauty kits and put it on the surfin a little wooden boat. Most of all, forget designer clothes andopen shoes. You wouldn’t want your Gucci dress sprinkled withchampagne and your feet hurt with broken glass.
New York City, USA
The list wouldn’t be complete without theall-time classic and the largest New Year’s Eve celebration in theUnited States – the party on Times Square. A million of revelersflock to New York City’s most dazzling district to watch the famousball drop from One Times Square skyscraperand be showered with a ton of confetti released once the ball touchesthe floor. Star-studded musical performances, balloons, spectacularpyrotechnic displays and thousands of parties going on in the entirecity – New York knows how to make things right at the turn of theyear.
So where are you partying this year?