I learned years ago that New Year’s Eve celebrations will never match what I dream of in my head. In all fairness, this is partly because I have an amazing imagination – think Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory, but instead of chocolate fountains, I picture delicious rum cocktails, and cake…lots of cake, with awesome music, and minimal crowds (enough for it to be a good party, but not cray). When I find this oasis, I doubt I’ll be writing about it…but until then, here are a few spots that I’ve either heard about through close friends, or visited first hand and can vouch for being great NYE destinations. Oh, and I know you’re wondering why New York, and Vegas didn’t make the list – I limited this blog to international spots only. Also, all New Yorkers know you don’t spend NYE in the City…we don’t like to wear diapers while waiting for a ball to drop in freezing temps…
- Sydney, Australia – the fireworks display over the Sydney Harbour is world famous – for good reason! Between staying at one of the many hotels that line the harbour, or taking an awesome cruise through the harbour, anyone can take in great views of the fireworks display while getting their party on. You can even party right in the middle of the harbour by taking a ferry to Clark or Shark Island, which both offer refreshments, and amazing views. Sydney also puts on an acrobatic water show and the Harbour of Lights, where more than 50 boats, decorated with lights, line the harbour. From what I’ve heard there’s even an ancient Aboriginal smoking ceremony, that is designed to cleanse the harbour of negative spirits. Best part?? The weather! Sydney averages between 73-77 degrees in December, so if you live in the U.S., you can escape the cold, and head to where it’s warm, and fun!
- Edinburgh, Scotland – Do you have what it takes to party non-stop for 3 days? Not sure I do…but I am sure going to try, LOL. Locals call this festival Hogmanay (means: last day of the year). The party starts on December 30th, when a group of revelers carrying torches, march from Parliament Square to Carlton Hill for the first fireworks display. On the following day, the streets are filled with parades, parties and music festivals. At midnight, 4.5 tons of fireworks are let off over Edinburgh Castle, and everyone in the streets sign Auld Lang Syne. I don’t know about you, but this seems like a necessity of life, to me.
- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – You don’t have to just travel to Brazil during Carnival to have a good time! NYE brings the second largest party to Rio, at Copacabana Beach, where party goers wear all white (supposed to be good luck), at this all night party called Reveillon. There’s oceanfront musical performances, dancing, drinking, and of course, fireworks. At midnight, the sea goddess, Yemanja is honored, as “the less intoxicated” partiers remember to throw flowers into the ocean. For a less raucous time, many of the hotels that line the strip also offer great rooftop parties that overlook Copacabana Beach, so you can watch the party from above, while sipping on champagne, and eating fresh seafood. I will be going in the next 2 years, to um…do research for everyone…You’re welcome, haha.
- Hong Kong, China – This skyline is gorgeous on a normal day. Can you imagine how it looks when it is covered with fireworks? Similar to as in Sydney, this NYE celebration centers around water – Victoria Harbour. This city offers rooftop parties and harbour cruises that all offer beautiful views over the harbour – but the best part is that the night culminates with pyrotechnic dragon dancing through the city skyline.
- Reykjavic, Iceland – Ok, so we’re back in the cold climate for this one, but it is for a good reason, I promise! Don’t you want to go somewhere that starts off NYE celebrations with bonfires? I do. Locals claim the bonfires date back to the Middle Ages, where fishermen believed the fire helped to burn away the previous year’s negativity. Then, similar to NY in the 90’s, everyone sets off their own fireworks display while waiting for midnight to come. Then, the true party begins…as clubs and lounges are open until upwards of 5am. And these folks, loooove to party. Don’t worry, you can cure your hangover, as there’s only about 4 hours of daylight in Iceland this time of year, so it’ll be dark when you wake up for lunch, haha…
- Cape Town, South Africa – Don’t you just love coastal cities? Le sigh… Many folks head to the Victoria and Albert Waterfront where there’s a concert and fireworks for party goers to enjoy. But, if you’re similar to me, and like to avoid heavy crowds, while still having fun, head to Table Mountain, which still offers amazing views of the fireworks, while having considerably less people around to obstruct your view. The following day, the place to be is on the beach, where everyone comes to enjoy the sun, and watch the Minstrel Carnival Parade that dances through the Downtown area. This tradition dates back to the 19th century and has been going strong ever since.
- Valparaiso, Chile – I know what you’re thinking…this woman has a thing for multi-day, water centered celebrations, and I’d say: #guilty. Its firework display lasts for almost half an hour, over Chile’s oldest port city. Its another 3 day celebration on the beach, and in the streets, as over 1 million folks party until 5am celebrating the new year. Similar to as in Rio, plenty of hotels offer breathtaking views of the beach and port from their rooftop bars and restaurants, so you don’t have to be in the mix of things if you choose not to. Head to this spot for a more low-key, off the radar, but still popular place to celebrate NYE!