10 unique New Year’s Eve Destinations

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New Year’s Eve is probably the biggest global party and the idea of spending it in some other country excites everyone from North Pole to South Pole from East to West.

So what is your New Year’s Eve destination? What will you wear – a nice dress, a suit, your best pair of shoes? And what about your underwear?

Well, you wouldn’t raise an eyebrow at this question if you were living in Latin America or any Spanish speaking country. People here don brightly coloured underpants to ring in the New Year—red if you’re looking for love, and yellow for money.

Across the world, revelers celebrate the New Year’s Eve in a similar fashion: fireworks and parties. Still, each destination has its unique rituals. Some walk around with suitcases in their houses at midnight, some eat a spoonful of lentils, some eat 12 grapes for 12 wishes for 12 months, some wear white clothes, some throw away their old stuff at neighbours, some predict future with molten lead, some chime a bell 108 times to welcome New Year God, some send hundreds of paper lanterns up into the night sky. The list is endless.

So as you get ready for your New Year’s Eve party, here is a list of 10 most amazing New Year’s Eve destinations and unique rituals attached to those places

  1. Tokyo, Japan: Japan is the first place to welcome the New Year. In Tokyo, festivities start as early as the 29th, with spectacular fireworks displays every night until the 4th Jan. Two great party areas are Shinjuku and Shibuya. New Year’s Eve celebration in Tokyo is both a time of family events as well as lively nightlife experiences. ‘Bonenkai’ (forget the old year) parties are held in December to bid adieu to past problems. A popular ritual called “Hatsumode” is followed where locals visit temples for the first time in the year. Once a temple bell rings 108 times at midnight, the crowds begin to celebrate the arrival of the New Year.

    Tokyo - zojoji NewYears Balloon Party

    Tokyo NYE  – At midnight the temple bell is rung for 108 times across all Buddhist temples

  1. Sydney, Australia: Sydney has earned a reputation of the New Year’s Eve Capital of the world, thanks to the spectacular fireworks at Sydney Harbour. For a day, Sydney becomes the melting pot for travelers across the world. Revelers start filling up the Opera House forecourt and every inch of open space around the harbour from early morning. The formalities officially kick off at 6 pm, with an aerial show. At 9 pm the family fireworks amaze the kiddies. The main attraction at midnight, the Harbour Light Parade, has made the city famous as a New Year’s Eve destination. This is one show for which preparations start two years in advance. In Sydney, the entire January is dedicated to New Year Celebration – fireworks are held every Saturday at Darling Harbour.

    The Famous Sydney Harbour Fireworks

    Sydney NYE – The NYE Capital because of it’s spectacular fireworks show

  1. Reykjavik, Iceland: New Year’s Eve celebration in Reykjavik is unforgettable – a show of fire and ice. Fireworks are quite magnificent but what makes this place unique is – The Northern Lights. Every year global travellers and locals combat polar cold to view this natural phenomenon. The Mars-like landscape of Reykjavik creates a breathtaking backdrop for the lights. New Year’s Eve is a prime time to see Northern lights and this is the only time of the year when fireworks are allowed. Locals have family dinners, attend the local bonfire, watch an annual TV show and at midnight entire population indulges into fireworks. But Iceland is not for the faint-hearted. Go only, if you can bear the extreme cold.

    NYE at Reykjavik, Iceland is famous for Fireworks amidst mother nature's natural show of Northern Lights

    Reykjavik NYE – Fireworks amidst Northern Lights

  1. Berlin, Germany: Thanks to the Oktoberfest, Berlin has earned a worldwide tag of a party city and it doesn’t disappoint you on New Year’s Eve. Germans have a tradition of participating in the annual pancake race – Berliner Silvesterlauf. Locals run in fancy dress for 2 to 15 km, flipping pancakes all the way. In the evening, Berlin’s biggest party takes place at the Brandenburg Gate. The 2 km stretch between the Victory Column and Brandenburg Gate is the place to celebrate Silvester (New Year’s Eve in German).

    berlin new years

    Berlin NYE – The ‘Silvester’

  1. Barcelona, Spain: The Spanish eat twelve grapes at midnight, one grape for each chime of the clock. Symbolic of twelve wishes for the twelve months of the year. Eating twelve grapes at midnight and wearing red underwear on New Year’s Eve is said to bring good luck. People gather in town squares eating grapes together, drinking cava (Spanish champagne) and waiting to welcome the New Year. New Years time is a family get together time.

    Spain NYE – 12 Grapes 12 Months 12 Wishes

  1. Vienna, Austria: New Year’s Eve in Vienna is about music, mulled wine, balls, parties, and traditions. The Silvesterpfad (‘New Year’s Eve Path’), an annual grand street party, is the main event. The event lines up several free open-air concerts where you can listen to everything from folk music, waltz, and operetta to pop and rock tunes. Vienna’s best classical orchestras like the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the Vienna Symphonic Orchestra perform New Years Eve concerts. At midnight people kiss one another and feast on suckling pigs, which are a symbol of good luck. Future predictions are made by reading the shapes formed by pouring molten lead into the water.

    New Years Eve in Vienna is about music, mulled wine, balls, parties and traditions

    Vienna NYE –   The ‘Silvesterpfad’ – which is all about music, mulled wine, balls, parties, and traditions

  1. London, England: London is a place that takes pride marrying modernity with tradition. And the same is reflected in its New Year’s Eve celebrations too. A three-hour extravaganza along the River Thames comprises of performances by thousands of artists, fireworks show at the London Eye, a midnight countdown alongside the chiming of Big Ben, and a massive group sing-along to “Auld Lang Syne.” Until last year this was a non-ticketed event but this year for the first time the event has been ticketed to prevent overcrowding, and tickets cost £10.

    Londons NYE is famous for fireworks show at the London Eye, a midnight countdown by chiming of Big Ben, and a massive group sing-along to “Auld Lang Syne

    Londons NYE – fireworks show at the London Eye, chiming of Big Ben at midnight and a massive group sing-along to “Auld Lang Syne

  1. Edinburgh, Scotland: Sub-zero temperature cannot tone down the enthusiasm of Scots to celebrate the New Year. The ‘Hogmanay’ celebration lasts four days and includes a torchlight parade through the city, concerts, and a massive street party on Princes Street. Scotsman Robert Burns wrote “Auld Lang Syne”, and it is a tradition to sing it on the streets of Edinburgh holding glowing torchlights. ‘Midnight Moment’, the world-famous fireworks light up the skies above Edinburgh from the iconic Edinburgh Castle and Calton Hill. The Scots follow the tradition of “first-footing,” in which the first guest of the New Year should bring gifts.

    Edinburgh NYE - The ‘Hogmanay’ celebration includes a torchlight parade through the city, concerts, and a massive street party on Princes Street

    Edinburgh NYE – The ‘Hogmanay’ celebration – a torchlight parade, concerts and a massive street party on Princes Street

  1. New York, USA: Since 1907, the famous ‘ball drop’ – in which a 12-foot-wide crystal ball weighing nearly 12,000 pounds descends atop Times Square in New York on New Year’s Eve. The Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration features star-studded musical performances, balloons, confetti and a colorful pyrotechnic display. Every year, visitors from around the globe write their wishes for the New Year on colorful pieces of official Times Square New Year’s Eve confetti. These wishes are posted on the New Year’s Eve Wishing Wall called “Hopes and Dreams”.

    New York City NYE - The Times Square Ball Drop!

    New York City NYE – The Times Square Ball Drop

  1. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Rio is the place for the partygoers who love to dance with the sea waves in the summertime of southern hemisphere. The fantastic fireworks are held at the Copacabana Beach. People attending the event come dressed in white and bring flowers, which they throw in the water as a ritual offering to the sea goddess. Champagne literally flows like water. Eating grapes and lentils are considered good luck rituals.

    Rio de Janeiro NYE – dressed in white people celebrate on Copacabana beach

There are many more interesting and strange New Year’s Eve rituals like in Ireland Maids place mistletoe under the pillow to find future husbands. In Denmark Dishes and crockery are broken against neighbours’ doors; the bigger the debris, the greater the luck. In the Philippines: Most people wear polka dots and eat round-shaped foods for good luck. In Ecuador Scarecrows made of wood and newspaper bits are burnt to destroy the past and bring in the new. In Chile New Year is rung in with the dead. People head to the cemetery and start the year at the graves of their departed ones.

Hope this article helped you in deciding which New Year’s Eve Destinations is calling you.  Also, when you visit any of these New Year’s Eve Destinations do follow the rituals of that place. Be rest assured you’d make some amazing new friends.

Travel. See. Write.

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16 Comments

  • Rishabh & Nirali says:

    We not been to any of these destinations on New Years but partying seems the way forward for now. The only place which came remotely close was New Years Full Moon party at Koh Phangan, Thailand!

  • RHONDA ALBOM says:

    My daughter spent her last New Years in Argentina, but she didn’t mention anything about brightly coloured underwear. Hmm, maybe it wasn’t a tradition with her host family.

  • Danijela says:

    Yellow underpants for money? Hehehe, would have to try that one. Hope it has the same “magic” in other parts of the world. 😀
    You’ve surprised me with all the activities in Tokyo. How interesting that you can actually join the festivity that lasts for almost a week?! With the fireworks and all! Oh, how lovely, would have to head there for New Year’s Eve one day, seems so different from anything I’ve seen thus far. 🙂

  • Ron Meker says:

    Pinned it for future use 🙂
    great post and if those pictures are taken by you, great photography.
    the one that actually blew me away is the one in Iceland. This kind of scenery you won’t see in any made man cities.

  • Simon says:

    Last year we spent part of New Year’s Eve on a cruise ship and part traveling back to our home in the Caribbean. It’s been a dream of mine to celebrate New Years in another country, but that is the closest I have gotten so far. I have always thought about Australia because it is one of the places that rings in the New Year long before us. The fireworks at the Sydney Opera House is always amazing. New York is on my list as well.

  • Anna Johnston says:

    Ya know something, just the other day I found myself thinking about what I was going to do for NYE. Last year I spent NYE on a tropical island in the Whitsundays, Australia. It was magic, will be hard to top. I have done Sydney and London, and absolutely recommend everyone experience bringing in the new year in those destinations. Iceland is on def my list, Tokyo would be rad too.

  • Anu says:

    I would add Goa to this list. I do not know how many travelers come to Goa to bring in the new year. We see the fireworks from our rooftop or from a beach near us. It is absolutely crazy to see the lanterns go up and fireworks lit up the sky.

  • Hannah says:

    I loved this, so informative! I’ve always wanted to spend NYE in Berlin, but now I also want to try one in Iceland too. The Barcelona underwear idea is hilarious!

  • Shibani says:

    I am planning a visit to Germany this year in December (but first week). Though after reading your post, I feel like moving the trip till new years to see the famous new year at Brandenburg Gate. Thanks for sharing, it might come very handy for my next trip 🙂

  • Marcelle says:

    So difficult to think of New Year’s Eve when I’m still enjoying the last summer sun rays in France! I would like to go to Reykjavik, Iceland, for the Northern Lights in Winter.

  • Niels Thomas says:

    No Dubai? The Burj Khalifa at midnight as absolute crazy! Maybe on your next list, Although new york as also an amazing experience!

  • Megan Jerrard says:

    Excellent destinations! I’m bias because I’m from Australia, but the Sydney fireworks are some of the best in the world, and the parties too, for celebrating New Years Eve – and why wouldn’t you want to be one of the first in the world to celebrate the new year right :D!

  • Stevo Joslin says:

    I’ll take any excuse to eat grapes and make wishes in my underpants. Thanks, Spain! Probably wouldn’t try that in Iceland, though. Fireworks and the northern lights, oh my!

  • Jen Joslin says:

    Wow, what an amazing list of places to ring in the new year! I loved reading about all of the different traditions and ways people celebrate. I’d be down for some grapes and Cava in Barcelona, and I definitely want to experience the Sydney Harbor fireworks at least once in my life!

  • Wow! We didn’t know that New Year’s festivities in Tokyo are celebrated from December 29th to January 4th. That’s so awesome! And it’s crazy too that the Harbour Light Parade in Sydney is planned 2 years in advance. Guess we’ll have to go to these two places soon. 🙂

  • Mia says:

    These are all wonderful places to ring in the new year! I love the unique things that each place does to draw the crowds. I’m sure these places are packed with locals and tourists alike. It sounds like London’s NYE celebration is growing like crazy since they’re starting to charge. Either way, they all look like fun times!

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