Best New Year’s Celebrations Around the World (And How to Stay Safe)4 min read
It’s only appropriate that we say goodbye to the old and welcome the new in a way that’s universally understood: With tons of parties.
Whether everyone sings Auld Lang Syne, throws flowers into the sea, or watches a ball drop, every culture and city has its own traditions for kicking off the New Year on the right foot.
But wherever you choose to celebrate, remember to take extra precaution. With the crowds, festive drinks, and overall excitement of the day, it’s easy to get caught up in the festivities. Be sure to travel with a friend or in a group and stay alert as much as possible. Have a glass or two of champagne to celebrate if you’re of legal drinking age, but remember it’s always safest to stay in control. And of course, book a hotel nearby and don’t hesitate to get a taxi if necessary.
If you’re still not sure what you’ll be dong this New Year’s Eve (or want ideas for next year), here are some of the best celebrations around the world:
It’s no surprise that one of the first cities in the world to celebrate the New Year would also host a massive celebration filled with an incredible lightshow, fireworks, and pyrotechnic displays over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Attendees can also enjoy entertainment acts such as aerial acrobats and a traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smoking ceremony, which is done to cleanse bad spirits. At the end of the night, the festivities conclude with the Harbour of Light Parade, which features a variety of illuminated boats throughout the harbour.
Hong Kong is the home of an incredible fireworks display and pyrotechnic lightshow. At Hong Kong’s Time Square (yes, there are two of them!), you’ll also enjoy a taste of New York City’s famous celebration; the city also hosts a ball drop ceremony similar to the one in New York. Or, visit the Victoria Harbour and watch the countdown displayed in the sky, followed by a fireworks finale.
While there are plenty of New Year’s Eve festivals and events to take part in, the real party in South Africa begins on New Year’s Day with Kaapse Klopse, the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival. Watch parades, performances of traditional dancers, musicians, and locals dressed up as minstrels as you celebrate a tradition that dates back to the 19th century.
Visit the charming city’s famous Christmas markets and join thousands in watching the fireworks at the Wiener Prater fun fair. Vienna is also a great place to go if you’re looking for a classy celebration; you can attend glamorous balls, galas, and concerts such as the “Grand Ball” at Hofburg Palace.
Over 250,000 people head to the area surrounding River Thames to view the night’s events, which includes a 10-minute lightshow, fireworks, and a countdown that concludes with Big Ben striking midnight. On New Year’s Day, watch the parade in central London, which includes floats, marching bands, and even an appearance by the Queen’s horses.
In Scotland, an evening and a day aren’t enough to ring in the New Year. Instead, Edinburgh hosts Hogmany, which is a four-day long festival of events. Thousands of people attend the festival, which includes a traditional Celtic party, live music, and other performances on stages throughout the city. The event culminates with a pyrotechnic show at midnight on New Year’s as everyone sings Auld Lang Syne, a classic Scottish song.
New York City
The Big Apple is an iconic New Year’s Eve destination, bringing in millions of people around the world to watch the ball drop—a tradition that’s been around since the early 1900s. But there’s more than just that—visitors can also enjoy celebrity performances, a lightshow, fireworks, and other festivities. But if you’re looking to enjoy the celebration without the crowds, consider viewing from a nearby hotel or restaurant.
Rio de Janeiro
In the capital of Brazil, locals and visitors from all over the world head to the famous Copacabana beach to watch performances and dance the Samba. Think Carnival meets New Year’s Eve beach party—which is great for those looking to stay warm this holiday. If you go, be sure to wear white, which is said to bring good luck for the New Year. Countdown to midnight, throw flowers into the ocean, and end the night with an incredible fireworks show.
Photo by Owen Wilson, photographer.