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Best destinations to celebrate New Year’s Eve

Make the next New Year's Eve your best one yet. Perhaps you've always wanted to see the ball drop in Times Square or enjoy Hogmanay in Edinburgh. Perhaps you hope to join in with local traditions, such as eating grapes at midnight in Madrid or wearing white in Rio de Janeiro. Perhaps you want to see fireworks over the Sydney Harbour Bridge or the desert dunes in Dubai, and perhaps you're hardy enough to be planning a New Year's Day swim like the one many Amsterdam residents enjoy. Whatever your preference, there's a New Year's Eve experience for you!

  1. London
  2. Rio de Janeiro
  3. Reykjavik
  4. Edinburgh
  5. Paris
  6. Milan
  7. Sydney
  8. Amsterdam
  9. Madrid
  10. New York
  11. Berlin
  12. Dubai

1. London

Begin your New Year's Eve celebrations in London at one of the city's restaurants. Maybe you fancy a Michelin-star treat or what about the New York-inspired Madison, with its penthouse views across to St Paul's cathedral? Then there's always the river. Seeing in the New Year with dinner, dancing and fizz on board one of the river boat services such as the Jupiter Clipper is sure to give you a New Year's Eve to remember. The river – whether that's the banks or on board a boat – is also the perfect spot to enjoy the London Mayor's New Year's Eve ticketed firework display.

Don’t miss: A New Year's Eve party or club night. Try the New Year's Eve Spectacular at the Southbank Centre or the Natural History Museum's Jurassic Party

2. Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro's New Year's Eve celebrations are legendary. Join the party on Copacabana Beach. There's live music on several stages, fireworks (launched from off-shore barges) and even an enormous Ferris wheel. It's a celebration for people of all ages but if you want to keep partying after the midnight fireworks, there are plenty of nightclubs on offer. Plan on staying until dawn because many of the clubs serve a buffet breakfast when the music finally softens and the dancing slows. Or, if you prefer to enjoy the spectacle away from the crowds, why not book a beach-front hotel room? You might even get access to a private viewing area.

Don’t miss: Celebrating like a local – perhaps by wearing white (it symbolises peace) or making a wish while jumping over seven small waves.

3. Reykjavik

Imagine bonfires aplenty and fireworks above snowy streets. This is Reykjavik on New Year's Eve. The celebrations begin with more than a dozen bonfies. One of the biggest and most popular is on Ægissíða street, right by the sea. After the bonfires comes something of a lull, making it the perfect time to enjoy a meal in one of the restaurants. Just make sure you're back on the streets – well wrapped up, of course – before midnight for the firework extravaganza. If the Northern Lights are visible, they soon won't be as one of Europe's largest firework displays gets underway. Head for a high up location, such as The Pearl on Öskjuhlíð hill for the best views.

Don’t miss: Seeing the fireworks reflected in the famous Tjörnin city pond before warming up in one of the nearby bars.

4. Edinburgh

As Edinburgh's biggest annual party, Hogmanay is not to be missed. It's usually a three-day event that culminates in a massive New Year's Eve's street party that incorporates a candlelit concert, a ceilidh and, of course, fireworks. The main events are ticketed and always very popular so it's best to plan well in advance. Most tickets don't allow re-entry so, if you prefer a sit-down meal to the street food that's on sale at the different events, you'll want to eat in advance. Alternatively, although the walk up to Arthur's Seat is a New Year's Day tradition, it's also a great spot to enjoy the fireworks from a distance.

Don’t miss: Partying on at one of the after-parties and, if you're hard enough, dressing up in fancy dress ready for a bracing dip in the river at the annual Loony Dook early on New Year's Day.

5. Paris

What could be more perfect than Paris, the ‘City of Light’, for New Year's Eve? Enjoy La Réveillon de Saint Sylvestre (as it's known in France) with a dinner cruise along the Seine. Glass-walled boats ensure the perfect view of an illuminated Eiffel Tower and other famous sights as diners enjoy their multi-course meal with champagne and then dancing to follow. Alternatively, what about a cabaret at the Moulin Rouge or the even more avant-garde Crazy Horse? Ballet and opera are also options, as is a concert at the Gothic Sainte Chapelle on Île de la Cité. Afterwards, why not mark midnight by joining the huge crowds gathering on the Champs-Elysées!

Don’t miss: Walking to the Arc de Triomphe. If you're lucky, it will be lit up by a fabulous laser show.

6. Milan

Milan's New Year's Eve celebrations revolve around a big concert in the Piazza Duomo. It's free and normally features internationally-known artists as well as pyrotechnics at midnight and a street party that continues well into the small hours. If undercover and comfortable seats are your preference, try the New Year's Eve performance at the world-famous La Scala. Whatever entertainment you decide on, it's worth beginning your evening in Navigli. This picturesque canal-side neighbourhood is packed with bars and restaurants. And, after the clock has struck midnight, it's also a great spot to head back to if you want to dance until dawn.

Don’t miss: A cruise on either the Naviglio Grande canal or the river Po. Prosecco is sure to feature!

7. Sydney

Sydney's New Year's Eve celebrations are carefully choreographed. Their mesmeric start is a harbour-front traditional and sacred ‘Smoking Ceremony’ that's intended to purify and cleanse the space for the New Year. Following this you can expect lighting projections to dazzle over Sydney Harbour Bridge, a welcome from the Gadigal Elders representing the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council and, of course, fireworks. There are two displays. The first, at 9 p.m., combines pyrotechnics, song, dance, art and sound to showcase the history and contemporary life of Australia's indigenous community. It's a joyous event, suitable for all ages. At midnight, it's time for the second display, with fireworks launched from Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and from boats in the harbour.

Don’t miss: Booking tickets for one of the best harbour-front vantage points. Try Observatory Hill or Mrs Macquaries Point at the Botanic Gardens.

8. Amsterdam

On New Year's Eve, fireworks augment Amsterdam's beguiling Light Festival, which runs throughout December and January. Some of the fireworks are organised displays but many are DIY affairs by locals. All you need to do is pick your bridge and take in the spectacle. You could also book a table at a restaurant or bar. For great views, try Madam or Moon in the A'DAM Tower or, for a more laid back vibe, Canvas in the Volkshotel. If you want to dance from one year into the next, try the Oerknal New Year's Eve festival. Next morning, reinvigorate yourself with the New Year Swim at Zandvoort aan Zee, 30 minutes from the city.

Don’t miss: Eating oliebollen at midnight. You'll find these deep fried dough balls at street stalls across the city - and tradition says that eating them on New Year's Eve wards off evil spirits.

9. Madrid

Many Madrileños celebrate New Year's Eve at home. However, happy crowds gather before midnight in the city's Puerta del Sol to listen to the clock strike midnight. If you're among them, you might want to take 12 grapes with you. You'll see many of the locals eating one grape to mark the last 12 clock chimes of the old year. If you prefer your grapes fermented, you could always book a table at one of the many restaurants offering a special New Year's Eve menu. NH Collection Madrid Gran Vía has sweeping views of the city. Then, of course, many of Madrid's best clubs host popular New Year's Eve parties. Book in advance if you want to get into the likes of Opium or Teatro Kapital.

Don’t miss: A New Year's Eve flamenco show and chocolate con churros to feast on afterwards.

10. New York

Watching the ball drop in New York's Times Square has to be one of the world's most iconic ways of marking New Year's Eve – but you'll need to arrive early and dress warmly. Many of the city's other landmarks also have their own New Year's Eve spectacles. There are fireworks in Central Park and Prospect Park, an evening walk taking in City Hall and the Brooklyn Bridge and, obviously, there are the city's bars and restaurants. Everyone has their favourites but 230 Fifth Rooftop has great views of the Empire State Building. Finally, if you're feeling energetic, you could always join the Midnight Run, a four-mile race that starts at midnight.

Don’t miss: Considering a New Year's Eve dinner cruise, especially if the boat docks in front of the Statue of Liberty at midnight.

11. Berlin

With its festival at Brandenburg Gate, Berlin throws one of the world's largest New Year's Eve parties. And it's also free. Expect famous DJs, fireworks, live bands and plenty of fun as around a million partygoers celebrate together. If large crowds aren't your thing, you could head for one of Berlin's many rooftop bars to enjoy the spectacle. Alternatively, if you're a techno fan, the city's famous clubs await you with special New Year's opening hours that are even longer than normal. Then there's the Kulturbrauerei, which, with its 13 floors, is said to offer Berlin's largest indoor New Year's Eve party.

Don’t miss: The chance to see Berlin lit up for New Year's Eve from one of the vantage points in and around the city. Try the Moltkebrücke or the Müggelberge hills.

12. Dubai

New Year's Eve in Dubai is an opulent, flamboyant affair. There are parties aplenty, notably the gala dinner on the QE2 and the meal and subsequent entertainment at the Dubai Opera. However, if you just want to let your hair down without dressing up in black tie, the Burj Khalifa firework display is the one to go for. It's so popular and so impressive that it's televised around the world. Why not enjoy the show with a picnic on one of Jumeirah's beaches? Alternatively, for something completely different, what about a desert safari? Whether you want to go dune bashing or just enjoy the sunset, you're sure to have a New Year's Eve to remember.

Don’t miss: A New Year's Eve stroll through the waterfront market district of La Mer.

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