- 1. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
- 2. Cape Town, South Africa
- 3. London, England
- 4. Hong Kong, China
- 5. Dubai, UAE
- 6. Reykjavik, Iceland
- 7. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- 8. Lisbon, Portugal
- 9. Auckland, New Zealand
- 10. Tokyo, Japan
- 11. Madeira, Portugal
- 12. Cusco, Peru
- 13. Nashville, USA
- 14. Guatemala City, Guatemala
- 15. Sydney, Australia
The year is fast coming to a close. That means it’s almost time to celebrate New Year’s Eve yet again! So without further adieu, here are the 15 best places in the world to celebrate New Year’s Eve.
1. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Veteran visitors praise the sight of fireworks reflected in the water in the canals while celebrating the holiday in one of the city’s cozy cafes. Many locals leave the city but there are still many places to party. The fireworks over the river IJ is a popular show as is the one in the park near Westerdoksdijk.
There are events in most major squares. Wherever you go, be sure to get there early with your drinks and chairs. Dress warmly as the city’s cold in December. Buy some traditional dutch snacks, oliebollen, for the morning too
2. Cape Town, South Africa
Experts say Cape Town is “one of South Africa’s most visited destinations.” One of the best places to spend New Year’s Eve there is the V & A Waterfront. Experience the culture and beauty of the city backdropped by iconic Table Mountain.
At the Waterfront, you can be a part of the excited crowd or quietly sip champagne at one of the numerous restaurants or cocktail bars. Walk around the area but be sure to find a good spot to take in the fireworks display over the harbor. There’s plenty of parking or you can use Uber or the convenient MyCiTi bus service.
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3. London, England
There’s plenty to do during the day and at night London has a famous firework display. It’s attended by over 100,000 people annually. Those in the know suggest getting tickets to see it from Tower Bridge.
Get out early and see the popular Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park. It’s still open and the crowd is smaller. Ride the rollercoaster; go ice skating and have a drink at the ice-bar. Buy souvenirs too.
Get there by midday. Take the train. Plan ahead too as getting out of the city can be tough after midnight.
4. Hong Kong, China
Hong Kong offers several options for a memorable New Year’s Eve. Celebrate at one of the skyscraper bar tops, a boat ride along the river or go native. For the local experience, go to the well-known Victoria Harbour’s Avenue of Stars and await midnight.
But don’t expect a rowdy “Western New Year’s”party there. Oddly, everyone simply kicks back quietly on the sidewalk, eats snacks and awaits the countdown. Mind you, while it’s not “party central,” you will enjoy some phenomenal views of the noteworthy firework display at midnight. The juxtaposition of the calmness of the waterfront and a massive celebration is quite memorable.
5. Dubai, UAE
New Year’s Eve here features several noteworthy fireworks shows lighting up the impressive buildings. Budget concerns? No worries. If you come up too short to attend the fanciest parties, you can always watch them for free.
One famous show will be hosted by the Burj Al Arab 7 star hotel but you can see it from Sunset Beach, or better yet from Al Sufouh Beach from where you can see both the famous Burj Al Arab show and the popular Palm Jumeirah show as well. You can also watch the fireworks being set off at the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa.
6. Reykjavik, Iceland
Reykjavik locals put on a traditional community fireworks show that is one of the best on the planet. The profits from all fireworks sales go to support ICE-SAR, (the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue.) Fireworks are set off way prior to midnight.
However, once the clock strikes twelve, there are additional fireworks going off from all around you. Head for the hills (where the famous Perlan is perched) for the best view. Go to the big NYE party there too. If you’d rather kick back with the locals, watch the fireworks with hundreds of other folks from the parking lot.
7. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
One of the biggest NYE celebrations on the planet occurs every year at the famous Copacabana Beach. Roughly 2 million visitors travel to one beach to watch the fireworks show and to jump seven waves in the ocean at midnight. Jumping the waves is a local tradition that is said to bring one luck for the new year. Another fun local tradition is that everyone wears white at this event.
This is a family-friendly event, too. The party begins at roughly 8 p.m. You can buy drinks there or bring your own booze.
8. Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon is one of the warmest places in Europe and the offseason is a great time to visit. There are fewer tourists and it’s reportedly “more cost-effective” as well. In fact, there are several free events in the main square, Praça do Comércio, and along the Tagus River.
There are live bands and fireworks at midnight. Want to stay out all night? There are many little local events where people decorate their neighborhoods.
Wander the streets of Bairro Alto or Alfama. Parties abound in the bars and restaurants too. Dance into the morning light if you wish
9. Auckland, New Zealand
New Zealand’s biggest city hosts numerous events on New Year’s Eve. Hit the inner-city’s family-friendly Wondergarden at Silo Park, for live music, street food, and other entertainment. You’ll also find things to do in Ponsonby and on the waterfront.
Here in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s summer too so you can celebrate outside comfortably. There are longer daylight hours too so the party lasts longer. Be sure not to miss the fireworks show at the Sky Tower at midnight. It’s the first major show on the planet!
10. Tokyo, Japan
Enjoy New Year’s Eve in the traditional Japanese way. You can still celebrate a western-like countdown but why not try something different? Dine on Toshikoshi soba to bring you luck in the new year. (Soba noodles are long and represent a long life. But slurp them don’t bite them or you cut your life short!)
Right before midnight, go to a shrine for “Hatsumode” (the year’s first shrine visit.) The Meiji shrine is the best place since it’s found right next to Harajuku Station. Listen for the “joya no kane” or midnight bells and pray for a good new year.
11. Madeira, Portugal
The island of Madeira held the official Guinness World Records title for “Greatest Fireworks Show in the World” until 2012. Some call this place “the Hawaii of Europe.” This spot draws tourists looking to escape the cold weather and catch the NYE fireworks.
Visit Funchal ensconced in a hill-surrounded bay. Here you will see fireworks set off from several locations across the bay. Cruise ships even line up at the Port of Funchal so passengers can see the show. Visit before Christmas and leave after NYE.
12. Cusco, Peru
Celebrate NYE in Cusco’s Plaza de Armas. Most of the hostels and hotels are within walking distance of this main square. The event is free and the streets get busy at about 7 p.m.
Keep in mind that according to tradition, you need to wear yellow underwear beneath your clothing to guarantee a full year of good sex. If you wear yellow underwear over your clothes you will get lucky that very night. So don’t be surprised to see people running around the square in yellow undies after midnight.
13. Nashville, USA
Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Nashville, Tennessee celebration complete with fireworks, live music, and noteworthy food and drink. The legendary world country music capital holds an all-day concert and it’s free. Dine and dance at the well-known Acme Feed and Seed, have a drink or three at the local “honky tonks”, then stroll on over to the famous Bicentennial Capitol Mall for the concert. See the famous 15-foot Music Note (Nashville’s answer to New York City’s Times Square Ball) drop at midnight. Stay at the historic Hermitage Hotel.
14. Guatemala City, Guatemala
The best place to be on NYE in Guatemala is the well-known rooftop terrace of the upscale Hyatt Centric Hotel in the Zona Viva neighborhood. This chic hotel includes an infinity pool and incredible 360-degree views of the city skyline, various volcanoes, and the Torre del Reformador.
The midnight fireworks light up everything with a splash of color. Admission includes canapes, dancing to DJs, and midnight champagne. Parking is not included.
15. Sydney, Australia
Sydney’s New Year’s Eve celebration is world-famous. You can see a big fireworks display at the iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge at midnight. Veteran visitors say that the best place to enjoy the show is from the botanical gardens. You can watch for free from Macquaries Point.
Relax in the sun as you await the show. After all, you have to have your spot reserved well ahead of time. Take in the pre-shows and for those with kids, there is an early fireworks show at 9 p.m. There’s also a special light parade of boats in the harbor too.