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The best places to spend New Year's Eve

by Martha Hales

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Greeting the New Year is a festival common to many cultures and continents, and every corner of the globe has its own way to celebrate. There are some pretty unusual New Year’s traditions out there, from burning scarecrows in Ecuador to smashing plates in Denmark and eating 12 grapes in Spain, but we are focusing solidly on the best places to have some fun. Parties and pyrotechnics go hand in hand as a favourite way to ring in the new year, and we’ve picked out some of the best destinations to celebrate in style!

Winter in Moscow

Moscow, Russia

Yes it's cold. Very cold. But it's also party central at New Year. This is the major national celebration in Russia, and Moscow comes alive with more lights than you ever thought possible adorning the city, hundred and hundreds of decorated ‘New Year trees,’ ice rinks, outdoor revelry and immense firework displays. The Kremlin has the most famous display but there are many others in parks all over Moscow. And because the Russian orthodox Christmas falls on 7th January the festivities in the first week of January don’t let up. In short, what are you waiting for?

Lights on GUM Moscow

Cape Town, South Africa

Capetonians have stretched this holiday out into a three day extravaganza making the most of the summer climate with lots of outdoor activities scheduled in alongside the traditional celebrations. Head to the Victoria and Albert Waterfront for a close up view of the live music and midnight fireworks to mark the end of the old year and the start of the new. For a sweeping view of the city and its fireworks, Table Mountain is a popular place to base yourself with a hamper of champagne and fine foods. On the 1st and 2nd of January, everyone heads to the beach or to watch the New Year Carnival parade in central Cape Town.

New Year fireworks on a beach by Cape Town

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Fancy some warm weather while you celebrate New Year’s Eve at the party to beat all parties? Then Rio it is. This is a city that puts you on a high with its spellbinding location before you’ve even started on the champagne. Crests of rock loom above dazzling beaches and the blue of the ocean beyond, and you can take it all in with two million fellow party goers who all gather on Copacabana beach to dance the night away in true style, many dressed all in white. The tipple of choice while watching the mega fireworks display is champagne, and it's not unusual for the beach to still be packed with revellers at dawn.

New Year fireworks at Copacabana beach, Rio de Janeiro

Reykjavik, Iceland

The gloomy winter days are short in Iceland, so everybody is ready for an excuse to party by the time 31st December comes around. And party they do, with exceptional enthusiasm. The festivities begin with symbolic bonfires held around the city, where the troubles of the closing year are burnt away ready to start the new year afresh. Everyone drifts on a wave of merriment to the city centre as midnight approaches, and if there is an organised display of fireworks it will be hard to make it out as everyone brings their own to set off at midnight. Reykjavik prides itself on the incredible atmosphere created when the whole city joins in the festivities. For great views of the pyrotechnics, make your way to Öskjuhlíð hill.

Fireworks over New Year bonfire, Reykjavik

Hong Kong, China

They are calling it a ‘pyromusical spectacular’ and we can only agree. Spectacular is most definitely the word to describe the fireworks that light up the Hong Kong sky on 31st December each year. Arrive early at Victoria Harbour to bag the best spots to watch the show for free, or join one of the many harbour cruises for a brilliant view of the light show and its reflection in the water. There are loads of live music gigs, special club nights and glamorous parties happening throughout the city too, but the combination of that famous skyscraper filled skyline, a sparkling pyromusical show, and  atmosphere along the shoreline are hard to beat.

Fireworks at New Year in Hong Kong

Valparaiso, Chile

This colourful port city is within easy reach of Santiago and makes a great destination for New Year's Eve as it claims to host the biggest firework display in South America. The giant sparklers are set off from ten locations all around the bay simultaneously, making it a truly sky-filling display.

Fireworks for New Year in Valparaiso, Chile

The party begins in earnest in the early evening when the one million visitors begin jostling to find the best vantage point for the midnight pyrotechnics. Head for Paseo Yugoslavo by funicular or on foot for a view and an up-for-it crowd. Vendors selling snacks, mojitos, beers and soft drinks are everywhere, and post-fireworks a DJ takes over to take the revellers through til dawn. Plaza Bismarck is a little higher with even better views of the dazzling show and a more relaxed atmosphere.

Girls looking at view in Valparaiso

Make it happen

So what are you waiting for? Click on the links above to find out more about these amazing New Year's Eve destinations. Our local experts can craft an itinerary based on your own preferences, so your dream trip is that much simpler. To speak to someone in the TravelLocal office please call +44 (0)117 325 7898.

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