Where you choose to ring in the new year will depend on the kind of experience you’re after, but here are some choices from around the globe where you can see in 2019.
Sydney is a stunning city at any time of the year. Its iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge adorn an already spectacular harbour. Broadcast around the world, Sydney’s New Year’s Eve event sets the bar high for New Year’s events around the world. Around $7 million AUD worth of fireworks explode off barges in the harbour and off the Harbour Bridge. Many revellers take to the water to watch the spectacle unfold but there are ample vantage points on the foreshore as well.
A spectacular display lights up Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour at the stroke of midnight with lasers and fireworks exploding against the backdrop of this extraordinary cityscape. You can watch the show from a traditional junk on the water, or from one of HK’s many world-class rooftop bars.
It’s the middle of winter in London when the New Year rings in, but the city is lit up and establishments across the capital pull out all the stops to make New Year’s Eve in London memorable. The night skies are a riot of light and colour with a stunning display of pyrotechnics from the river on London’s famous South Bank.
Surrounded by the bright lights of Broadway and over one million people, what better place to ring in the New Year than in the city that never sleeps? Times Square in New York City is an unforgettable place to be on New Year’s Eve.
Bangkok is one of the best cities in Asia for spectacular New Year’s Eve. The biggest event is at CentralWorld Square, where several hundred thousand people gather for an impressive light show and live concert. Throughout the city, every bar and nightclub is filled with revellers. A number of hotels offer rooftop dinners that afford stunning views of the fireworks display.
Cape Town offers the chance to bring in the New Year from atop one of the most spectacular natural wonders in the world. Revellers can party on top of Table Mountain, which is the backdrop to the city. From there you can enjoy unobstructed views of the fireworks show below on the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, or you can actually join the festivities at the city’s redeveloped waterfront–one of Africa’s most visited cultural and heritage sites.
Rio de Janeiro
For a different kind of waterfront experience, you can try a beach-based New Year’s Eve in Rio de Janeiro. Being practically midsummer, many partygoers shun sweaty indoor clubs and take to the beach to party instead. An estimated 2 million people gather on the Copacabana Beach for samba, champagne, and fireworks on New Year’s Eve. But if you’re going to join in, remember it’s customary to wear white in Rio on New Year’s Eve as it’s said to bring good luck for the New Year.
White features in St Petersburg too, for the magnificent boulevards and bridges of St. Petersburg, “The Venice of the North,” are at their most stunning when covered in white and illuminated by holiday lights. The opulent Hermitage Museum is especially beautiful on New Year’s Eve. New Year falls in the middle of the Russian holiday season, and the city’s main thoroughfare, Nevsky Prospect, is decorated in dazzling lights.
The Japanese do New Year’s Eve a little bit differently. Locals make the first visits of the new year to shrines and temples. Temple bells ring and food stalls are set up at the city’s most popular shrines. For a quieter New Year’s Eve seeped in a unique cultural tradition, this might be your choice.
But if it’s bright lights and the big-city vibes that you’re after, head to the Shibuya crossing–reputedly the world’s busiest intersection–for the midnight countdown, or find a spot along Tokyo Bay for the annual fireworks display.
New Zealand’s major city, Auckland, is the first city in the world to see in the new year–three hours ahead of Sydney. The city puts on the world’s first New Year’s fireworks display from atop the southern hemisphere’s tallest building, the 328-metre Sky Tower. The city’s redeveloped waterfront and stunning harbour provide ample viewing opportunities for the fireworks and other activities both on and off the water.
There are still countries with non-Gregorian calendars. Israel, for example, celebrates the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, in September and refers to the Gregorian New Year as “Sylvestre”. Sylvestre parties are becoming more and more popular in Tel Aviv however, and this modern beachfront city, with its vibrant nightlife, is a choice for New Year’s Eve worth considering.
In countries like Myanmar, adoption of the Gregorian calendar has gone hand-in-hand with the recent opening up of the country to the world and tourism. For a unique experience why not consider literally ringing in the new year at a pagoda in Myanmar? A New Year’s Eve experience ringing a bell at one of the many pagodas here will provide the kind of memory that is likely to last for the rest of your life.