What better way to celebrate the dawning of a brand new year than with a huge party complete with dazzling fireworks, spectacular floats and millions of like-minded revellers. The following cities all know how to party hard come New Year’s Eve;
New York City, USA
What better place to be on earth to see in a New Year than New York City and in particular Times Square! Crowds of more than a million people celebrate and watch the six-ton illuminated ball drop at midnight in Times Square. The sky is lit up with millions of fireworks and an elaborate light show. The finale of the experience is the dropping of confetti as the clock strikes 12. Head to the Meatpacking District for an all-access pass to the very best to New Year’s parties in NYC. The pass provides entrance to private clubs, buffets and shows with DJs. Alternatively visitors can enjoy a more personal celebration with a reservation for dinner at one of New York’s many quality restaurants. Book early though or miss out!
The main event for the UK’s New Year’s Eve is the fireworks spectacle at the London Eye on London’s South Bank. The show kicks off five minutes before Big Ben chimes to announce midnight and the dazzling fireworks spectacle will commence from the top of the 135 metre tall London Eye. As you’d expect with a free show, the area will be busy and is restricted to 250,000 spectators. Other perfect spots for viewing the spectacle are Waterloo Bridge, Westminster Bridge, Victoria Embankment and the rest of the South Bank area around the Eye. Most London restaurants, bars and clubs will require reservations and are often more costly on New Year’s Eve. The Ice Bar at the Ice Hotel London offers a multi-course dinner and a swing band followed by DJs. Try a Thames river cruise which will take passengers close to the fireworks for a birdseye view.
Niagara Falls, Canada
Thousands of eager spectators will gather in Niagara’s Queen Victoria Park to party at the New Year’s Eve Concert Extravaganza set up by the Niagara Parks Commission. The concert begins with Dragonette and continues with the recording artists Hedley from Vancouver and Nelly Furtado. Stunning Niagara Falls itself is elegantly illuminated during the Winter Festival of Lights which display millions of lights along a four mile stretch. An impressively elaborate fireworks celebration lasts three hours from 9 pm until midnight.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague offers several different New Year’s Eve celebrations. One is the official display over the Vltava River and Prague Castle. Celebrants have two choices for viewing the fireworks; the first being near the river at the historic Petrin Hill, Prague Castle and Charles Bridge district. The river cruise boats stop near the Charles Bridge to catch the dazzling illuminations. The second choice is the Old Town Square where huge crowds assemble to enjoy the shared revelry. The Christmas Markets in Wenceslas Square and Old Town Square are still open where vendors in wooden huts sell hot food, warm drinks and local handicrafts. The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra performs concerts at the Rudolfinum during the morning and evening. The New Year’s Eve celebration ball takes place at the Prague State Opera and river boats offer dinner cruises on the Vltava River.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Reveillon is Rio’s celebration where millions assemble at the Copacabana Beach to celebrate with many shows along the beach which perform various samba and rock and roll routines. The local Brazilians dress in white to bring about good luck in the following year. Others add red for romance, green for good health and yellow for success. Celebrants do not wear black as that foretells doom in the next year. Flowers are thrown into the Atlantic Ocean to honour Lemanja, an African-Brazilian goddess of the sea. Other people offer up sets of beauty lotions which are sold in little wood boats that can be set sail to guarantee a blessing or wish from the old year. The party continues until long after the midnight fireworks on barges moored off the shore. The best place to watch the revelry is on the beach and aboard the various cruise ships.
Although the Chinese New Year is based on the lunar year, Hong Kong also celebrates the western New Year in fantastic style. Activities begin with lion dancers, fortune telling at temples and tasty fried pastries. The main New Year’s Eve celebrations are awesome fireworks displays, colourful street parades and the amazing Hong Kong sound and light show where the skyscrapers on Hong Kong Island dazzle with millions of lights in time to music. The best views are over on Kowloon and onboard a private party on either the Star Ferry or a specially chartered boat.
Sydney is the first major city in the world to begin the New Year, although many of the small islands in Polynesia, Melanasia and Micronesia technically witness the dawn of a New Year first. Magnificent Sydney Harbor is the center of festivities with events beginning at 8pm. The aboriginal Smoking Ceremony is intended to remove the evil spirits from the harbour. Then there are fireworks displays for all the family and lighted boats, such as tall ships and old fashioned tug boats carry passengers.
Wherever you may be come midnight on 31st December – Happy New Year!
By Julie Bowman