Every city has its own traditions for ringing in the new year, but a New Year’s Eve spent in one of these seven destinations should be at the top of your bucket list.
A music festival in Gisborne, New Zealand
Attend an outdoor NYE music festival in Gisborne
The first major city in the world to ring in the new year, Gisborne in New Zealand plays host to an annual music festival called Rhythm and Vines which features both international and local artists. Held at the Waiohika Estate vineyard, this three-day festival culminates on New Year’s Eve and includes artists from a wide variety of genres, from hip-hop to drum & bass. Stay at the Boutique @ Portside Hotel, just a 15-minute drive from the festival.
Fireworks in Sydney, Australia
Fireworks light up Sydney Harbour Bridge on NYE
If you love fireworks, Sydney should be at the top of your NYE list. The largest New Year’s Eve celebration in Australia, Sydney organises not one but two firework displays. Lighting up the sky over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the fireworks are synchronised with music and a light show in what they call the ‘bridge effect’ (the lights change every year to match the event theme). The Family Fireworks take place at 9pm, followed by the Midnight Fireworks. Stay less than a 10-minute drive from the bridge at Rydges Sydney Central to be close to all the action.
A unique Scottish tradition in Edinburgh, Scotland
Watch a New Year's Eve fireworks spectacle in Edinburgh
31st December is the start of the Scottish New Year’s Eve celebration of Hogmanay, which translates to ‘the last day of the year’ – although the festivities can last up to three days. Head to the Scottish capital to see the fireworks at Edinburgh Castle, street parties, outdoor concerts, and a torchlit procession. Just 400 metres from the castle, you’ll be able to watch the fireworks from the comfort of the Edinburgh Castle Apartments.
On the beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Celebrate Brazilian New Year's Eve, Réveillon, on Rio’s iconic Copacabana Beach
Known in Brazil as the New Year’s Réveillon, 31st December sees locals dress all in white for good luck and scatter flowers into the ocean as a gift to Yemanjá, goddess of the seas. The best place to celebrate is at Rio’s iconic Copacabana Beach, where more than 2.5 million people gather on the 4 km stretch of sand. In addition to the traditional Réveillon celebrations, you can enjoy live music and dance performances followed by a magnificent fireworks show as the clock strikes midnight. From the pool at Copacabana Rio Hotel, admire panoramic views of the fireworks and celebrations at the beach.
Parades in Nassau, The Bahamas
Celebrating New Year’s Day in Bahamian capital of Nassau
In the Bahamas’ capital city of Nassau, New Year’s Day is just as exciting as New Year’s Eve. On 1st January, the streets are taken over by Junkanoo street parades (spectacular Caribbean street parades with music, dance, and costumes). The processions make their way through the city, ending with celebrations and fireworks on the beach. For the biggest Junkanoo parades, make your way along Bay Street in downtown Nassau. Stay on Bay Street itself at the Courtyard by Marriott Nassau Downtown.
Paradisiacal NYE in Hawaii, USA
Midnight NYE fireworks over the ocean in Hawaii
One of the last places in the world to ring in the New Year, the city of Honolulu in Hawaii hosts the island’s biggest fireworks display at Waikiki Beach. Thousands of locals and visitors gather here to admire fireworks set off from barges just offshore. The fireworks themselves serve as a countdown to midnight, with the display starting slowly at five minutes to midnight. And it’s only when the clock strikes 12 that the real show begins. If you want to view the fireworks from a unique perspective, hop aboard one of the boats that offers new year cruises around the Waikiki coastline. Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa is just a three-minute talk from the beach, meaning you won’t have to travel far to see the light show.
A captivating countdown in Bangkok, Thailand
NYE fireworks light up Bangkok's glittering cityscape
Technically, Songkran is the official Thai new year but January 1st is also a huge affair – especially in the captivating capital, Bangkok. In the city’s Central World Square, a throng of locals and tourists gather to revel in the celebratory countdown atmosphere. Expect light shows and concerts by popular Thai artists, then head to the Chao Phraya riverside for midnight fireworks. It’s also traditional in Thailand to go to temples on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day for special ceremonies, so curious and culturally minded travellers should visit any of the city’s magnificent spiritual sites on this auspicious occasion. Treat yourself to a luxurious NYE stay at the InterContinental Bangkok, just around the corner from Central World Square.