There’s no denying that some cities around the world have a thing for NYE. Usually, a sensational backdrop and tons of fireworks do the trick, but there’s more to it than that. The best cities to celebrate NYE in style offer that little something extra, be it the brightest fireworks display, the most unusual traditions, or even most romantic setting. Because sometimes, you really want to experience a Big Bang (in a city that isn’t New York). So, pack your bags and your bling, intrepid traveler, and come see how the rest of the world celebrates with a totally epic New Year’s Eve.
Ok, I’ll say it: anyone who says there’s a better city than Sydney to celebrate an epic New Year’s Eve is lying. So there. I said it. Sure, I may or may not be subjective on this, but let me assure you: Sydney knows how to put on a good show.
You may have to contend with bone-crunching crowds as you find a vantage point on that glorious harbor, but once those fireworks start, you’ll be so mesmerized that you’ll totally forget that you’re sharing the spectacle with 1.5 million friends-you’ve-yet-to-meet.
The Foti Fireworks family has been at the helm of celebration in Sydney for over a decade, and they never fail to impress. Sydney’s NYE fireworks consistently rate as the best in the world, with over 1 billion people watching the live show across the globe. Do yourself a favor, though, especially if your 20s are long gone: book a table at one of the many waterfront restaurants and watch the visual extravaganza in comfort. It’ll set you back a few, that’s for sure, but if you’ve never experienced that kind of crowd, trust that it will be exceptionally overwhelming. Buying a little personal space in Sydney, on NYE, is priceless. And so is the show.
Head to Venice to celebrate NYE in style on St. Mark’s Square, and you may not see the most extravagant fireworks in the world, but you will get the most romantic setting in the world. In our books, that’s just as unforgettable.
Venice is a magical place to visit at any time of year, but it is absolutely enchanting on NYE as tourists and locals alike descend on the most famous and atmospheric piazza of all to bring in the New Year with fireworks, champagne, and live performances.
The city really plays up its reputation, holding a ‘love party’ on St. Mark’s from 9pm onwards and live gigs to keep the crowds entertained until just before midnight. As is customary, you’ll have to hug and kiss those nearest to you at the strike of the midnight clock before settling in for an atmospheric show that lights up the whole harbor.
Want an epic Venice New Year’s Eve fireworks show without the crowds? Book a dinner cruise for Capodanno and you’ll (almost) feel like you have that magnificent lagoon all to yourself. Bars and restaurants stay open until the wee hours of the morning so if your stamina holds up to the challenge, you could watch the sunrise over St. Mark’s Square as well. Magical much?
Never one to do things by halves, Hong Kong puts on an epic New Year’s Eve party with a matching fireworks display on Victoria Harbor that’ll blow your socks right off. The key is a prime vantage point here and, being the fabulously stylish city it is, Hong Kong offers plenty of options. Join a junk boat cruise on the night to sail the harbor like an ancient trader or head to one of the many stunning, world-renowned rooftop bars for which the city is known for. Our money is on the Ritz-Carlton’s Ozone Bar, set on the 118th floor (yes, you read that right) of the ICC building in Tsim ShaTsui.
Because if you’re gonna pay top dollar for a glass of bubbly on NYE, it may as well come with top views. Celebrating NYE in style in a standout city doesn’t come much better than this.
Rio is in the throes of Carnival season on NYE (which culminates in that lavish week of celebration in February), and on this date, the city puts on the second-biggest party of the year.
Now, if you’ve ever been to Brazil, you’ll know these guys put on a fiesta like nobody’s business, and their epic New Year’s Eve gig on Copacabana beach, which attracts an astonishing 2 million people, is nothing short of extraordinary. This could seriously be one of the craziest experiences you’ll probably ever have in your life.
Go with local tradition and wear white for the beach-party-to-end-all-beach-parties and, if you’re starting to feel claustrophobic at the mere thought of the masses, go all out on a really stylish night at one of Copacabana’s best beachfront hotels. For a totally immersive view, choose a central hotel along the long stretch of beach, but for the best view of all, pick a treasure on the southern end of the promontory, where the view is simply jaw-dropping.
NYE is a wonderful time to visit Japan, and one of the very rare occasions where the whole country shuns modernism for the day to revert back to ancient traditions.
Soaked in culture and spiritualism, ‘shogatsu’ in Japan is mostly about family-time, mochi rice cakes, toshikoshi noodles, shrine visits, purification rituals, lion dance parades, medicinal sake (don’t mind if I do), and a host of other fascinating practices, many involving the ‘firsts’ of the year. The best part about celebrating an epic New Year’s Eve in Japan is that visitors are more than welcome to partake in all the ceremonies, adding a cultural infusion to your visit that you simply couldn’t experience at any other time of year.
The Land of the Rising Sun places a lot of emphasis on the first sunrise of the year, and the first shrine visit of the year, both said to purify, enlighten, and bring good luck. As such, there’s a host of options for bringing in the New Year and, even more importantly, the first sunrise in Japan.
Sapporo is particularly precious, as it’s home to one of the country’s most revered shrines, Hokkaido Shrine, which attracts upwards of 800,000 faithful followers in the first two days of the new year. Here, you can join the crowds for a deeply spiritual shrine visit, head up to the observation deck of Mt. Moiwa to catch the first sun (hatsuhinode), or see the first rays hit the slopes on the Teine Ski Resort, before taking hatsusuberi, the first ski of the year. Freezing temps notwithstanding, NYE in Sapporo is a truly unique and fascinating experience for culture-vultures (and one of our favorite things to do in Japan).
If weird and wacky New Year’s Eve ball drops are more your thing, check out these 18 cities in the US that drop some honestly absurd things from the sky when the clock strikes midnight.