Last updated on March 6th, 2020
The end of the year is fast approaching, and that means the holiday season is almost starting and we can celebrate New Year’s Eve again! Did you achieve all your New Year’s resolutions this year? Or better, did you chase your dreams this year? If not, there is still some time to achieve it!
Of course, with 2018 coming to a close it is time to end the year with a blast! But where in the world are you going to do that? We found some awesome travelers who loved to share their tips for the best spots to celebrate New Year’s Eve around the world.
Let’s kick off with amazing Amsterdam! There’s nothing like seeing the fireworks reflected into the water over the canals prior to celebrating the night away at one of the many cozy cafes around the city. Although many of the locals will escape the city just in time for New Year’s Eve, the city will be booming with crowds. You’ll find numerous parties as well as fireworks all across the city.
If you intend to attend parties, it’s best to check at least a month ahead for tickets as most parties sell out significantly in advance and most bars will not be open to those walking in. For 30 (or more) euros, it might be worth it to avoid walking around!
There are major fireworks over river the IJ, which you can see well from the park near Westerdoksdijk. Get there early with a chair and drinks as many stake out this spot far in advance! Although there are some events in the major squares, it’s best to experience New Year’s Eve in areas without as many people. However, many Amsterdammers shoot off their own fireworks, so be careful while walking around the canals close to midnight as many canals are very smoky. Dress warmly as Amsterdam is quite chilly in December! Be sure to pick up some ‘oliebollen’ (traditional Dutch snacks) the next morning.
Ring in the new year at one of the best locations in Cape Town!
Being one of South Africa’s most visited destinations, the V & A Waterfront is one of the best places to be to spend New Year’s Eve. With the iconic Table Mountain as a backdrop, you’ll find the beauty and culture of the city all rolled into one.
Whether you want to be sipping on champagne at one the many cocktail bars and restaurants, or want to spend every moment of the excitement being part of the crowd, The Waterfront has got you covered. I’d recommend making a full evening of it, and take time to walk around and have a look at the various activities throughout the area. And as 2019 nears, make sure you find yourself a spot with a good view over the harbour, as the fireworks display is not to be missed!
There is plenty of parking available in the various areas, and it’s easily accessible via the MyCiTi bus service. Or if you’d prefer the simpler option, just order an Uber to get to and from where you need to be. Traffic does tend to pick up around Christmas and New Year, so just take that into account when making plans.
Experience the truly incredible New Year’s Eve celebrations in London!
There’s so much to do in the daytime and at night you get to see the year out at the famous London firework display. More than 100,000 people head to London every single year to watch the display. It’s so popular that you have to book yourself a ticket, which sells out months in advance We managed to get tickets to watch the display from Tower Bridge.
If you really want to get the most out of New Year’s Eve in London, you should head up early and visit Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park. It’s still very much in full swing by that time, but there seem to be far fewer crowds as opposed to the lead up to Christmas Day. Go ice skating, visit an ice-bar, ride some rollercoaster and spend some money at the local stalls. Get a good meal before you had to the fireworks at midnight. If you ask me, there’s no better way to end the year.
It’s advisable to arrive around midday by train. Getting out of London is pretty manic after the fireworks and some trains stop running. So plan your route home in advance!
Only a few places in the world boast skylines as impressive as Hong Kong and to complement the hustle and bustle, it is fitting to have an extravagant firework display to ring in the Western New Year.
Hong Kong’s New Year’s Eve celebration is one to remember, for sure. There are plenty of places to celebrate the coming of a new year, such as from one of the numerous skyscraper bar tops to boats along the river.
However, it’s always fun to do as the locals do, so you can head to the Victoria Harbour’s Avenue of Stars and join thousands of others who patiently await midnight. But don’t expect a rowdy party. Don’t anticipate drinks flowing freely. Don’t come with a “Western New Year’s” frame of mind even…
Oddly enough, everyone just sits quietly for hours (starting from as early as 5 or 6pm!), claiming their prime spot on the sidewalk, eating snacks they brought along with them as they await the countdown of the clock.
While it may not be party central, Victoria Harbour gives phenomenal views of the impressive firework display at midnight, one that seems to be never ending. The bursts of light and color over the massive skyscrapers and illuminating off of the river gives a one of a kind show! The juxtaposition of a massive celebration with the calm, quiet riverfront will surely leave you remembering Hong Kong’s New Year’s Eve
Dubai is known for its record-breaking buildings and with New Year’s Eve there will be several amazing firework shows lighting up these buildings. In a city like this, you can visit the fanciest parties and spending a lot of money, or you can watch the spectacular shows for free.
The famous Burj Al Arab 7 star hotel will be home to one of those firework displays, and you can watch it from Sunset Beach, or even better from Al Sufouh Beach from where you can see both the Burj Al Arab and also The Palm Jumeirah fireworks hitting the sky!
Another option is to see fireworks go off from the tallest building in the world: Burj Khalifa. Next to the Dubai Mall, you can find the Souk Al Bahar from where you can see the tower the best, and they serve some food and drinks too. Make sure to check where you are allowed to drink alcohol, since it is officially forbidden in the UAE, but there are some exceptions. Be a good traveler, and respect their culture!
Another top spot to ring in the new year is Reykjavik in Iceland.
While there’s not a city or national sponsored fireworks show, Icelanders have long made it a tradition to put on a community fireworks show that will rival anywhere else in the world. The sale of fireworks goes to fund ICE-SAR, the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue and Icelanders know that there’s no better cause to donate their money to in the country.
Fireworks light up the Reykjavik sky long before the clock strikes twelve, but once midnight tolls, fireworks shoot up from every direction. One of the best places in the city to watch the display is from high up on the hill where the Perlan sits. You can attend the official gala NYE party there, or just join hundreds of others from the parking lot for the best perch above the city.
Rio de Janeiro
One of the biggest New Year’s Eve parties in the world happens every year at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Approximately two million people gather on one beach to watch a huge display of fireworks and jump seven waves in the ocean when the clock strikes midnight! As a tradition, jumping the seven waves will bring you good luck for the New Year!
Another tradition is to wear white and it is incredible to see so many people all dressed in white. The vibe is electric and the crowd is filled with everyone from the expected party-goers to elderly, to families with young children! It is definitely an event for everyone!
With so many people heading to Copacabana Beach at once, the only practical way to get there is by the Metro. You must buy special Metro tickets for New Year’s Eve that you must buy them in advance. The party starts any time after 8pm and you can bring your own booze or buy drinks there. Besides buying your metro passes, attending the celebration on Copacabana beach is completely free! Just be careful of your valuables as pick-pockets are common!
Overall, celebrating New Year’s in Rio is brilliant and an excellent way to bring in the New Year that I would recommend to anybody!
Lisbon is a great place to spend New Year’s Eve for many reasons! Although it’s chilly spending New Year’s Eve outside in Europe, Lisbon in the offseason is one of the warmest places on the continent, and its a wonderful time to visit the city as there are usually less other tourists and it’s more cost effective too.
There are free public events in Praça do Comércio, the main square, as well as along the Tagus River. You’ll be entertained by musicians and bands (although they may only speak and sing in Portuguese!) before the large fireworks displays take place at midnight.
Don’t worry though, the party continues afterwards if you want to stay out! There are lots of smaller neighbourhood events where the locals decorate small squares in their area and then bring out tables to all celebrate together, which is lovely to see. And you can wander the streets of Alfama or Bairro Alto and find plenty of parties taking place in bars and restaurants too, with people staying out dancing until the early hours of the morning, or even later!
Be one of the first ones to ring in the new year in Auckland! Auckland is the biggest city in New Zealand and therefore, there are loads of events during New Year’s Eve. You, for example, have Wondergarden at Silo Park, an inner-city event with plenty of live music performances, family-friendly entertainment, street food, and lighting installations. Then there’s also plenty of events in Ponsonby and around the waterfront.
And what is better than doing all of this with warm weather?! With summer going on during New Year’s Eve on the Southern Hemisphere, it’s even better to celebrate because you can party outside and have longer daylight hours.
Whatever event you decide to go to during New Year’s Eve, make sure that you are watching the fireworks at the Sky Tower at midnight! The fireworks display from this tower is the first of the big fireworks displays around the globe.
The best places to watch the fireworks are around the waterfront, from Devonport, Mount Victoria, Albert Park CBD or the bridge at Birkenhead. Generally, just anywhere where you have a good view of the Sky Tower will do! Make sure you be there pretty early to claim a good spot and then enjoy the spectacle!
Celebrate New Year’s Eve in a traditional Japanese way in Tokyo!
New Year’s Eve is a bit different in Japan. You can still find countdowns similar to western style, but my friends and I like to go the more traditional route.
You start the evening with a dinner of Toshikoshi soba which brings good luck for the following year. As soba noodles are long and thin, they are supposed to signify a long life, just don’t bite them or you’ll cut it short! Japan noodles are meant to be slurped and you can find soba shops all over Tokyo.
Next, just before midnight, head to a shrine for ‘Hatsumode’ or first shrine visit of the year. Probably the most popular shrine in Tokyo for Hatsumode is the Meiji shrine. Located next to Harajuku Station, it’s easy to get there. We like a smaller shrine in Shibuya and always get there before midnight so we can hear the ‘joya no kane’ (midnight bells). The goal is to pray for a good year as soon as possible! There is a small offering where we go of amezaki (sweet sake) to all patrons and you always buy a new amulet for the year! Much more subdued but also, a nice change to see a different culture.
Did you know that up to the year 2012 the Guinness World Records title of the “Greatest Fireworks Show in the World” was held by a small town on a small Portuguese Island called Madeira? This extremely beautiful European island, called by some “the Hawaii of Europe” is located in the same time zone as the UK- about 1000 km from the coast of Europe and only about 520 km from Africa.
The New Year firework show is a big event and each year brings many tourists looking for an escape from the cold weather and a wonderful fireworks show. Although not officially the biggest anymore, the show is still breathtaking. Funchal is located in a bay and surrounded by hills – fireworks are shot simultaneously from multiple stations across the entire bay, both on the hills as offshore, which is probably what makes this show so special. Multiple cruise ships line up next to the Port of Funchal to watch the amazing spectacle.
I always recommend visiting Madeira in December– arriving before Christmas and staying until after the NYE. The weather in that period is still very pleasant, mountain hikes are still possible, the city is beautifully decorated and full of nativity scenes and food stands. I do recommend booking your cruise or flights in advance, as that time of the year is really popular.
Go for the craziest New Year’s Eve experience in Cusco in the South of Peru.
The best spot to celebrate is in the Plaza de Armas (main square) and most hotels/hostels are within walking distance. Its free to attend and the streets get busy from early evening as its dark from around 7pm.
It can be quite cold on an evening so make sure you are wrapped up warm, that said, there is a tradition on new years eve that if you wear yellow underwear underneath your clothes you will have good sex all year and if you wear over your clothes you will get lucky that night!!! So expect to see lots of people doing laps of the main square in yellow underwear after midnight!!
By around 11.30pm everyone is in the main square waiting and at midnight it goes crazy and everyone is letting off fireworks anywhere they can find a tiny space!! It’s safer to be in the middle of the crowd and not near the edge, though a stray firework managed to burn down the nativity scene when I was there!!
It’s a lot of fun and one of the best places in the world to celebrate New Year’s Eve.
If you’re looking for a New Year’s Eve celebration complete with music, fireworks, and world-class food and drink, look no further than Nashville, Tennessee. True to its reputation as the country music capital of the world, the city celebrates with a day-long concert, which in 2018 will be headlined by Keith Urban and Peter Frampton.
Best of all – it’s free.
Start the evening with dinner and dancing on the Cumberland River at Acme Feed and Seed, which sits at the top of Nashville’s famous “honky tonk” strip, Broadway. After dinner and a few drinks at the “honky tonks”, walk to Bicentennial Capitol Mall to catch the free concert and watch the 15-foot Music Note (Nashville’s version of the New York City’s famous Times Square Ball) drop at midnight.
Stay at the famous Hermitage Hotel for a historic experience and easy access to the celebration. During your stay, make sure you visit the Oak Bar and its lavishly decorated Men’s Restroom, which men and women alike are welcome to visit and photograph.
For a more contemporary experience, stay at The Thompson hotel with the incredibly popular rooftop bar L.A. Jackson, a favorite of locals and tourists alike.
To say they love fireworks in Guatemala is an understatement…virtually every Guatemalan holiday, major event and celebration is an excuse to launch a round of exploding pyrotechnics beginning from early morning and continuing until late at night. And New Year’s Eve is the biggest party of them all.
One of the best places to see and be seen on New Year’s Eve in Guatemala is on the rooftop terrace of the Hyatt Centric Hotel in the vibrant Zone 10 ( Zona Viva) neighbourhood. This chic, upscale hotel features a glimmering infinity pool as well as fantastic 360-degree views of the skyline, volcanoes and the Torre del Reformador, the city’s version of the Eiffel Tower. At midnight, fireworks explode across the sky of Guatemala City illuminating the surrounding volcanoes in a spectacular rainbow of colors. Your admission to this private swanky party includes midnight bubbly, canapes, dancing and DJs spinning tunes. Parking is extra.
Last but not least: Sydney! New Year’s Eve in Sydney, Australia is famous worldwide and we were very lucky to have the opportunity to celebrate it in Sydney in 2013. It truly was a once in a lifetime experience!
There is a huge firework display at the Harbour Bridge and Opera House at midnight which you can see from far, but the best spot to enjoy it is at the botanical gardens. There are paid celebrations with front row seats, but there is also a huge area at Macquaries Point where you can watch for free. It’s a very popular place and the best spots will be taken early. That’s why photographers often line up the night before and stay overnight to claim the best spots. We went early morning, around 6.30 am to queue up and we managed to claim some of the last great photo spots. So yes, you’ll have to be there almost a day earlier than the actual fireworks!
Once inside, there are stalls selling drinks and food and everybody is chilling in the sun, waiting for the show. In the evening, there are some pre-shows and at 9 pm there is a little family fireworks show, especially for the small kids, with also a light parade of boats in the harbour. 10 seconds to midnight the countdown begins, and then it will be a show to remember!
Accommodation is sold out really quickly, often already as soon as March! There will be road closures during the evening. Public transport is the best way to get around, so plan your trip! You can find all the information you need on this website.
So did you decide where to celebrate New Year’s Eve already? Will it be a place from this list? Do let us know in the comments! We will be in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam this year so if anybody is there too, then let us know as well 🙂
Check out all our other Tips & Tricks here!
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