Wherever you are this New Year’s Eve, the night is the perfect time for festive fun. Epic fireworks displays, all-night parties, unique cultural traditions – you’ll find all these and more going on across the globe.
So where would you like to be when the clock strikes midnight? To help you decide, we’ve found a number of big bashes and unmissable New Year’s Eve traditions for you to enjoy in some of the world’s most awesome cities:
Londoners ring in the New Year to the chiming of Big Ben at midnight. Over 250,000 people line the banks and bridges of the Thames to marvel at spectacular fireworks and light shows. But the fun doesn’t stop there: After-parties begin immediately as the New Year starts in the city’s restaurants, bars and pubs and on New Year’s Day itself, the streets are filled with a colourful parade involving some 8,500 street performers – from marching bands and dancers to a procession of the Queen’s horses. Catch the parade from 12 noon at Piccadilly, after which it weaves its way down to Whitehall via Lower Regent Street and on to Trafalgar Square, ending at Parliament Street.
Spectacular Sydney puts on the largest New Year’s Eve fireworks display in the world. In fact there are two displays; one at 21:00 hrs (ideal if you aren’t a night owl and will be in bed by midnight!) and another at midnight, with the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House lit up in the background making for a striking setting. Over a million people come to wonder at the waterfront show – the air and water show features incredible acrobatics, an Aboriginal smoking ceremony (said to cleanse bad spirits), the Harbour of Light Parade, plus a flotilla illuminated boats bobbing in the harbour.
Dubai is no stranger to superlatives so it comes as no surprise that this city hosts one of the world’s most spectacular fireworks displays – it even set the world record twice for its massive displays in 2016. The display has been known to incorporate the 828-metre Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Giant shards of light shoot out from all floors causing the building to resemble a gigantic sparkler – it really has to be seen to be believed! Dubai’s fireworks take place in three stages, each at a different location. Firing off at the Burj Khalifa, the display moves on to the Burj Al Arab and is followed by a finale show at The Beach.
Squeeze into the heaving square at Puerta del Sol and, when the clock from the tower chimes midnight, swallow twelve “lucky” grapes and shout “feliz año nuevo”. But the reality for most locals is a more homely event to be shared at home with the family and friends – after a seafood, Spanish hams or perhaps lamb feast. They watch the countdown on their living room TV, downing those lucky grapes together. Midnight is marked by a crescendo of cava clinks and firecrackers. But that’s just the warm up. Immediately after midnight, bars open and the serious drinking and dancing begin. If you’re still up at dawn, don’t miss Spain’s famous deep-fried churros (sugared dough pastries) accompanied by thick, warming hot chocolate.
New Year’s Eve (Nochevieja in Spain), in Catalonia’s capital is a stylish event. Join the crowds at Montjuïc Magic Fountain in the Plaça Espanya from 11.30pm and you’ll be entertained by some of Barcelona’s best live music. Joining in the countdown to midnight entails experiencing Spain’s tradition of eating grapes for good luck as the clock chimes twelve across the main square. The New Year is heralded in with a spectacular firework display. For a slightly alternative celebration, head to the Poble Espanyol Museum to count down to the new year and party in one of Barcelona’s most stunning architectural treasures.
Rio de Janeiro
The Reveillon in Rio is a celebration of a lifetime with pulsing live music, excellent food and an incredible 20-minute fireworks display. Hundreds of thousands of locals plus tourists dress in white and stand at the city’s Copacabana Beach for a good view of one of the world’s biggest firework displays, all choreographed to Brazilian soundtracks. Barges spread out across the sea and let off pyrotechnics, making the entire horizon appear to be on fire. The world’s largest beach party then goes on long after the fireworks end – this could well be an unforgettable start to your new year.
Taiwan’s capital city is now one of the world’s most impressive places to go to celebrate New Year’s Eve, partly due to its epic fireworks display. With roughly one million people heading to Taipei to ring in the New Year, the city puts on a correspondingly huge midnight fireworks performance. The centre-piece is the Taipei 101 building, once the world’s tallest building before Dubai’s Burj Khalifa was built. It’s spectacular to witness the colourful streams of fire shooting out from the impressive skyscraper, with no less than 30,000 effects creating one of the world’s best displays.