Have you ever considered traveling for New Year’s Eve? Whether you’re looking for a relaxing, peaceful way to usher in the new year, or a rowdy and epic party in one of the world’s major cities, there are many great opportunities to celebrate around the world.
Fireworks are at the top of the list of things everyone wants to see at midnight on New Year’s Eve. There are some incredible fireworks displays around the world that you just have to see to believe.
But fireworks aren’t the only thing there is to do on the last night of the year. Exclusive parties, harbor cruises, and extravagant dinner parties are all on the list of event.
We just encourage you to book ahead by at least a month, so you are sure to get in to your preferred event and secure a great hotel. Many of these locations even have hotels with fantastic views of the fireworks, so keep that in mind when finding a place to stay.
Check out these top 10 New Year’s Eve Destinations, complete with music, beaches, fireworks and partying and even quirky New Year’s traditions.
New York City
Nearly a million people gather in Times Square every year on New Years Eve for the annual celebration, featuring LIVE music by famous artists and the iconic dropping of the ball from One Times Square. If you’re looking for a really epic way to ring in the new year, then Times Square is the place to be.
People start gathering in the city around midday and spend the entire day awaiting the celebration. The streets become absolutely packed, with nearly 1 million people, by the time the festivities begin. It’s something you must witness at least once in your life (and once is probably all you can handle, unless you get lucky and a warm front rolls in).
There are no tickets necessary to get in. The annual New Year’s Eve celebration is a free event open to everyone on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Reykjavik knows how to throw a party, despite its small size. In fact, Reykjavik has become somewhat famous for its outrageous New Year’s Eve celebrations and fireworks. On New Year’s Eve, there’s partying going on in every part of the city until the wee hours of the morning.
Beginning in the early evening, people start setting off fireworks, but the real show doesn’t begin until just before midnight and after midnight, when the entire city joins in setting off fireworks. You can see them going off all over the horizon.
If you want to join in the fun, anyone can buy fireworks from the Icelandic Search and Rescue. There are many open places throughout the city where you can join locals in setting off your fireworks. After the stash is gone, head to one of the many bars that stay open until morning.
No where else in the world will you find such an outrageous party going on than in Edinburgh during its three-day celebration at New Years called the Hogmanay Festival, which begins on December 30. You’ll see “Shetland Vikings bearing firelit torches, hear beautiful choral singing in St Giles’ Cathedral, enjoy birling to traditional Scottish music on the Mound, and watch top stars and incredible fireworks from Princes Street Gardens.”
One of the biggest events is the Street Party on December 31st. Everyone comes together to party under the stars with bands, DJs and street performers from all over the world. The party begins at 7:30pm, and there’s a choreographed fireworks display at midnight. After that it’s just one big giant party in the streets.
A massive fireworks display over Sydney Harbour is the major draw for this spectacular city celebration that packs in over a million people. Planning ahead of time is the key to getting the most enjoyment out of this celebration.
There are many prime vantage points around the city, but the best ones require reservations. Parties range from dinner and drinks at local restaurants to Champagne cruises on the harbour, to swanky parties in front of the Opera House that cost $750 per person. Book early to snag a prime hotel or restaurant view of the Harbour. Check the city’s website for a listing of events and how to book.
Revelers gather all over the waterfront of Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong to watch the one of the World’s most impressive fireworks displays that takes place at midnight, bursting into the night sky right over your head. The finale includes a dazzling dragon dancing across the sky.
More than 35,000 people will crowd into the Harbour to watch the fireworks, which the city annually spends over 1 million dollars on. Before the fireworks, you can catch the New Year’s Eve parade through the streets that lasts until about 10pm. There are dinner cruises, parties, live music and events going on all over the city.
Las Vegas is a perpetual party scene, so of course it would be a great place to celebrate the New Year if you’re looking for a vivacious, rowdy scene. The entire Las Vegas strip shuts down to traffic and nearly 300,000 revelers crowd into the streets to drink and party. As there’s no one central viewing location in Las Vegas, you’ll be treated to dozens of different choreographed fireworks displays from the tops of many of the main casinos.
Of course, there are exclusive parties in all the hotels, along with spectacular shows, and special experiences happening everywhere. Foodies should also consider the numerous offerings for special menus at some of the best restaurants. Whatever you do, be prepared to dress for the occasion. Las Vegas does New Year’s Eve in style. Check the city’s website for details of events.
The Eiffel Tower is an impressive view in its own right, but the spectacular fireworks and lights display on New Years Eve turns it into something truly amazing and worth the trip to Paris to see. Join the crowds at the street party on the Champs Elysees and ring in the new year appropriately with a bottle of Champagne.
The official Paris New Year’s Eve street party takes place on the Champs-Élysées, where there is a spectacular light show that begins at midnight. Afterwards, people crowd into bars around the area to carry on the party. There’s another street party going on at the steps and in the area around Sacré-Coeur in Montmartre. All three of these locations are spectacular places to welcome in the New Year.
New Orleans, Louisiana
It’s not called the Big Easy for nothing. New Orleans is one of the best places to party on New Year’s Eve — from rowdy crowds on Bourbon street to numerous upscale dining experiences in the city’s best establishments. The biggest party in the city takes place at Jackson Square, which gets packed with revelers waiting to countdown to the New Year.
Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve takes place at Jax Brewery. Musical performances begin at 9:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. The event is broadcast nationally. If you’re looking for great music, head to Frenchman Street, or The House of Blues. A quieter evening can be found at one of the many restaurants offering special New Year’s Eve dinners.
Rio de Janiero, Brazil
If you thought the celebration in New York City was big, you should see the crowds of nearly two million who flock to Copacabana Beach to celebrate the New Year. The tradition here is to wear all white while dancing and partying through the night. Rio and Copacabana Beach are famous for the amazing celebration and fireworks display.
Since New Year’s Eve in Brazil is in the middle of the summer, you can imagine how packed the beach gets for this party. In Rio, the big event is on Copacabana beach. Although there are other smaller festivities in other locations around Rio (particularly on Ipanema beach, Barra and Flamengo beach), Copacabana beach is where the massive fireworks display occurs at midnight. The perk of having a hotel room on the beach with an ocean view is that you’ll get to see the fireworks display from your own room, if you don’t want to join the party outside.
With so many fabulous places to spend New Year’s Eve around the world, it would be a shame to stay at home! Get out there and celebrate the New Year at one of these fantastic locations – and enjoy the fireworks!
Laura Lynch, creator and writer of Savored Journeys, is an avid world traveler, certified wine expert, and international food specialist. She has written about travel and food for over 20 years and has visited 70+ countries.