Many places around the world throw a huge party for New Year’s Eve. Greeting the coming year in Sydney or New York City certainly is amazing, but there are some locations that may not be as grand, but are truly spectacular in their own way.
Only a few of its 800 square km cross over the International Date Line, making this tiny island nation the very first country to greet the New Year. The island chain also straddles the equator, providing warm, tropical weather year-round, including at midnight on December 31st. Instead of shivering in the big city waiting for a ball to drop, you’ll be sprawled on the warm sands with close friends celebrating the coming year with a bonfire and an evening swim. If you haven’t come with a group of friends, many of the larger towns put on a celebration that adds a tropical flavor to the yearly event. You can even watch the televised events from every other time zone and experience 24 separate celebrations if you want.
Another small island nation, Iceland has enough of a population to support a grander party on the 31st. Its northern setting and active volcanoes provide a unique opportunity to start the fireworks well before midnight. Head out to a thermal pool around mid afternoon and get settled facing north. When the sun sets around 4 p.m., you may be lucky enough to see the Northern Lights glowing in the sky. You could plan to stay there until midnight, but then you’d miss out on the bash that the capitol city of Reykjavik throws. Many neighbourhoods light bonfires and the entire population heralds the New Year with 500 tonnes of fireworks blazing overhead, set off by individuals around the city. The party doesn’t stop at midnight, though, the pubs and nightclubs stay open until 5 a.m. and the fun lasts until you just can’t stay awake any longer.
Hogmanay is legendary and Edinburgh is the place to experience it. The party begins a day early on the 30th with an all-day film festival and a torchlight parade that starts at around seven. The procession is a mix of Vikings, pipes & drums, and thousands of torches to light the way. On the 31st, visit the Christmas Gardens and giant Ferris wheel before taking in the candlelight concert at St Giles and the Keilidh on the mound. Modern music takes place on a number of stages and the “HOT DUB Time Machine” gives you the opportunity to Moonwalk and Macarena while joining one of the biggest street parties in the world. Sing Auld Lang Syne along with the crowd as the fireworks blaze overhead and the city celebrates. There is another parade on the first and you’ll want to stay for the 1872 cup – a rugby rivalry between Glasgow and Edinburgh that takes place on January 2nd.
The Queen Mary (USA)
Sure it’s midnight on a haunted boat, but that’s just part of the fun, right? The legendary vessel hosts a sell-out celebration every year for adults only that starts at 8 p.m. and doesn’t stop until two in the morning. This year’s theme highlights the Queen’s 1966 cruise through the Mediterranean. The three and a half acres of deck space is transformed into seven cultural sections so revelers can roam from country to country enjoying the party. Smoke a hookah in Tangiers, belly dance in Alexandria and take in the cabaret without ever leaving the ship. After the midnight fireworks the party continues until 2 a.m. For the all out affair you can even book a room for the night and partake of the New Year’s Day Brunch on the 1st.
creativecommons.org Leandro Neumann Ciuffo
If you must be in a city, Rio de Janeiro is party central – on the sand. The full stretch of Copacabana beach becomes a giant celebration with different music styles playing in all the different clubs. You can dance until you couldn’t possibly tap one more toe and then walk the warm sands until the music pulls you back. The incredible fireworks displays are launched from 11 barges out in the harbour and stages set up along the beach provide live music well into the morning. The beach hotels host their own parties and since the nearby roads have all been shut down, you may as well stay until breakfast, which begins at three in the morning.