Where are you planning on ringing in the New Year? This year I’m taking it pretty low-key, so of course, I’m already planning for next year. Conde Nast Traveller and Timeout have compiled lists of the globe’s best cities in which to ring in the new year, and I’m going to trust their judgement. If you’re in the mood to jet off last-minute to one of these places (…sigh…dare to dream) or you’re like me and already planning 2015’s new year’s party, here’s a good place to start.
New York City
For any New Yorker, the idea of camping out for days in Times Square to see a ball come down a poll 25 feet sounds awful. Actually, going to Times Square for any reason on any day sounds pretty awful. But New York is so much more than Times Square at New Year’s. There’s bars, clubs and restaurants with parties to attend. One particular recommendation is R Lounge at the Renaissance Hotel. With floor to ceiling windows, you can witness all the NYE glory….without a tent. Now, it ain’t cheap, but for an experience of a lifetime, it’s worth the splurge.
Widely recommended for its amazing fireworks, Sydney is also pleasingly in the middle of its summer on December 31st each year. To view the world’s best fireworks, you can hire a boat to take you out into the harbor and BYOChampagne to top it off. Also, if you’re not big on boating, the Four Seasons hotel overlooks the harbor and the fireworks, so all can be witnessed from the lap of luxury indoors.
When one thinks of Scotland, one might not immediately think festive outdoor party in the middle of winter, but that is exactly what Hogmanay is! 80,000 people carry torches through the streets at this 3-day long street party. The whole town stops to party and you can hear songs and share drinks with fellow revelers.
They may not be the biggest displays of fireworks, but all along Goa’s coastline there are palm trees filled with twinkle lights. I personally can’t think of a better way to ring in a new year than dancing on a beach under a sky of fireworks. The biggest parties happen in the north of Goa in Anjuna, while Palolem has more intimate parties down south.
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
I feel like this one needs a….well, duh! Rio is the ultimate party town, so celebrating New Year’s Eve there would be no less than spectacular. Two million people dressed in white gather on the Copacabana beach to watch the fireworks, listen to live music and party the night away. Stay at the Copacabana Palace overlooking the action for the best experience (if you’re budget is….nonexistent). Otherwise, the party starts at 8:00 pm so come prepared to stay all night.
Having experienced Berlin on a regular weekend in January, I can say firsthand that this town is F-U-N. However, it is also F-R-E-E-Z-I-N-G, so bundle up to watch the fireworks at the beautiful Brandenburg Gate. Party the night away at the trendy Soho House outpost in this cool city for the best indoor celebrations as well. However, you really can’t walk more than a few steps without stumbling upon a trendy party in this city.
While December is the “chilliest” month in Miami, the average temperate at night this month is only 64 degrees. So, don’t worry, you can still wear your tightest mini skirt with the best of them in this party town. A club night is a must. There’s a Soho House here worth a visit or hit up LIV at Fontainebleau Hotel to dance the night away.
Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand
Home to world famous Full Moon Parties, partying on these beaches is taken to a whole new level. Their New Year’s bashes start as soon as the sun goes down on Sunrise Beach in Had Rin and continue well into the next afternoon — talk about stamina! I’m all for a big party, but my recommendation would be to stay at one of the many upscale resorts nearby (Try Anantara Rasananda Koh Phangan Villa Resort & Spa) and hit the beach party just before midnight. Then, take a swim at dawn on the other side of the island on Sunset Beach.
Traditionally, many Japanese people spend New Year’s Eve at home with family watching NHK’s Kohaku, a marathon TV show in which pop stars reprise the year’s hit singles. However, Tokyo is still pretty vibrant for the eve itself. Catch the countdown in crowded Shibuya crossing and then hit a club afterwards to party all night. Some recommendations are Womb or Sound Museum Vision right in the heart of the city.
As far as city size goes, Amsterdam is actually relatively small. I once walked from top to bottom in a little over an hour (and I’m often told I’m a pretty slow walker). With street parties going off in all of the many squares (Rembrandtplein, Nieuwmarkt, Museumplein and Dam Square) around the city, you’re sure to find something to entertain on NYE here. Try out the local beers or some Oliebollen (fried dough, apple and raisins) while watching fireworks.