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 forward to the year to come. But it’s also a time for captivating fireworks displays and joyful parties, and in that regard, some destinations definitely 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 to travel during this time of year and want to go somewhere memorable, follow this guide to the best places to celebrate New Year’s Eve.
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 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 to ensure a spot and won’t be able to move even to go to the bathroom. Snagging a spot in the lounge of the Renaissance New York Times Square Hotel is a better option.
But there’s more to NYE in NYC than this one famous event. There are parties in NYC for New Year’s Eve all 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.
Rio de Janeiro
Everyone knows that Rio de Janeiro likes to party, thanks to its iconic Carnival celebrations, so there’s no way 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 it takes the celebration to the beach.
Around 2 million people flock to Copacabana Beach every year for the festivities, which include concerts and fireworks. To participate in a local New Year’s tradition, wear white and jump into the surf with your fellow partiers when the clock strikes midnight. It’s good luck if you jump over seven waves while making wishes for the new year!
Thanks to time zones, Sydney is the first major international city in the world to hit the new year. This Australian city is famous for iconic landmarks such as the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, which both feature heavily in the celebrations.
The main event for New Year’s Eve in Sydney is the dramatic fireworks display that makes the harbor even more beautiful. While the big moment is at midnight, the city holds a fireworks display for families at 9 p.m. so that 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.
Sin City is already a famous party destination, so you know it’ll be on any list of the best places to celebrate the New Year in the USA. Las Vegas gets primed for the big night by closing off the Strip to vehicles, allowing revelers to gather in one huge block party.
Come midnight, the city’s casinos put on a huge fireworks show from their roofs. Of course, you can also see special concerts and shows inside the casinos all evening, while nightclubs host glamorous star-studded parties. Basically, wherever you go in Las Vegas for NYE, you’ll find 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 especially nice about New Year’s Eve in Bangkok is the wide selection of ways and spots to celebrate.
You’ll have no trouble finding clubs and New Year’s Eve bars to party in if you head to Khaosan Road or Royal City Avenue. Meanwhile, major shopping malls like Siam Discovery and CentralWorld put on light displays and concerts for young and old. If you’re looking for fireworks in Bangkok, go to Iconsiam by the Chao Phraya River, where you’ll witness a larger-than-life exhibition.
England’s capital city is always up for a celebration, so it relishes the chance to start the year off in style. Many of the city’s iconic monuments and landmarks play a role in the festivities, creating an experience you could only get in London.
The city launches fireworks along the River Thames and from the top of the London Eye, but you’ll need tickets for a front-row view by the water. Other good vantage points for watching the pyrotechnics include hilltops, such as Primrose Hill and Parliament Hill, and panoramic bars such as Sky Pod Bar. Once midnight arrives, the new year is usually announced by the bells of Big Ben.
Yet another reason to visit beautiful Cape Town is the New Year’s Eve celebration there. This coastal city in South Africa hosts an amazing festival that showcases the best aspects of life.
You’ll find all kinds of free entertainment along the V&A Waterfront, including live music and circus performances. Then there are the street parties, like on Long Street in the city center, and a family-friendly concert at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. Of course, let’s not forget Cape Town’s midnight fireworks, best viewed from Table Mountain – though you’ll need to drive up to the vantage point, as the cable car stops at 9.30 p.m.
In a city that loves spectacle and excess like Dubai, you know the New Year’s Eve celebrations are going to be unforgettable. Not content with just having the world’s tallest building, the Emirati city has also laid claim to the world’s largest fireworks display.
Dubai’s impressive fireworks center two more of its most important landmarks, the Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab, with accompanying light shows sure to dazzle. The pyrotechnics at the Burj Khalifa last for 20 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.
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 for 10 minutes. Taking advantage of the marine setting, many people head out in ferries or smaller boats for the perfect view.
A special perk of celebrating New Year’s Eve in Hong Kong is that you don’t have to wait too long for another epic celebration. Just stick around for 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. Starting on Dec. 30 to span three days of festivities, this incredible event secures the Scottish capital as one of the best places for New Year celebrations in the world.
There’s plenty of drama to take in during Hogmanay, including towering bonfires, concerts, street parties, fireworks, and a majestic Viking procession under torchlight. The festival goes out with a bang (or a chill) on New Year’s Day, when it’s tradition to take a dip in the freezing River Forth.
Another place in Europe where you can party the night away is 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, sprawling between the Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column. This gathering runs from the afternoon of Dec. 31 to 3 a.m. and draws massive crowds.
You can still spend the evening in the clubs, of course, but you won’t want to miss the laser shows and fireworks! Wherever you go in the city, though, there’ll be plenty of people who will toast to the new year with you.
Clearly, Paris is one of the best places to spend New Year’s Eve for couples who want a romantic night to remember. Who wouldn’t want to start the new year by kissing their special someone in the romance capital of the world?
New Year’s Eve in Paris can take many forms, but the celebration 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 fireworks. Easily the busiest attraction is the street party along the Champs-Élysées.
While Austria’s capital city is especially famous for its Christmas markets, it also puts on an incredible show to mark the start of the year. In fact, Vienna converts its Christmas markets into New Year’s markets that sell Glühwein and various good-luck trinkets.
But there’s much more to Vienna’s celebrations than the markets. Probably the most famous is the New Year’s Eve Trail (or Silvesterpfad), which features a series of events and concerts that run right through the historic 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 to waltz. But the most extravagant event is surely the New Year’s Eve Ball at the Hofburg Palace.
Mardi Gras is proof that New Orleans knows how to party, and this Louisiana city brings a similar energy to its New Year’s celebrations. Much like with Mardi Gras, in fact, the French Quarter is the center of attention on NYE.
While there’s plenty of fun to be had on the balconies of the French Quarter, they’re 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 New Year’s Parade and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, which is livestreamed across the U.S.
Depending on where you live, Iceland may be a long way to travel for New Year’s Eve, but like the country itself, its celebrations are worth the journey. Reykjavík is the natural starting point for visits to Iceland – which works out well, as it’s also the easiest place to experience a traditional Icelandic New Year’s Eve.
The celebrations in Reykjavík begin with 10 community bonfires, which are lit around the city at 8 p.m. and draw practically the entire city out to see them. As there are no official fireworks displays for the city, it’s common to see fireworks at random points in the evening. Typically, though, the fireworks start around 11:30 p.m. and build up until midnight. Locals then head to clubs, pubs, and house parties to continue celebrating into the wee morning hours.
Clearly, while there are some similarities in the celebrations around the world, you have plenty of special places to go for New Year’s Eve. No matter where you choose, we hope you have a happy new year!