Fireworks kick off the New Year in Alkmaar, The Netherlands
No matter where you are in the world or what kind of a year you’ve had, you can count on New Year’s Eve to usher in the promise of a fresh start
There’s always a party to be found on New Year's Eve, from the smallest island in the South Pacific to the highest Alpine village. While some opt for a laid back, low-key style to ringing in the new year, other cities prefer to throw a party with a little more flair.
Here are some of the cities that have built a reputation around their New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Hogamanny in Edinburgh is probably the most famous New Year’s Eve street party in the world. This four-day festival includes music, dance, literature, art, sporting events and an all-day program of concerts for New Year’s Day. A quarter of a million people pack Princess Street alone.
This ticketed event spans the city and includes the Edinburgh Hogmanny Street Party, the Concert in the Gardens and the Keilidh. At midnight, fireworks erupt into the night sky, made even more spectacular set against the backdrop of the iconic Edinburgh Castle.
At that moment, choruses of Auld Lang Syne erupt all over the city, followed by what has become known affectionately as the kiss-a-thon.
There’s always pressure on Sydney to put on a spectacular show, since it’s the first major city on the globe to celebrate and telecast its New Year’s festivities. The main open-air party is around Darling Harbour, against the stunning backdrop of the Harbour Bridge. The party usually starts with some pre-show entertainment that includes an indigenous smoking ceremony, followed by the family fireworks, so even the little ones can enjoy some sparkle that night. Then the Harbour of Light Parade begins, showcasing more than 50 boats all lit with twinkly lights.
At the stroke of 12, the midnight fireworks begin and last for precisely 12 minutes – one for every month of the year. This portion of the celebration is famous, with approximately 1.5 million people attending live around Sydney Harbour and another 600 million watching on their TVs from around the world.
In Japan, when it comes to New Year’s Eve, or misoka, it’s all about tradition. Most people congregate to the temples, where you’ll find a festival-like atmosphere, complete with friendly Buddhist monks, food stalls, sake and lucky charms for sale. In Tokyo, you’ll want to head out to the Meiji Shrine, which attracts more than a million visitors.
At midnight, everyone gathers to listen to the Tsuri-Gane, the great bells, as they chime exactly 108 times. According to Buddhism, there are 108 earthly desires that cause human suffering. The ringing bells are believed to relieve us from their burden for another year and give us a fresh start to the next year.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
In what many consider to be the jewel of the seven United Arab Emirates, Dubai has quickly established itself as a playground for hedonists who demand nothing short of luxury – and Dubai is happy to oblige. For New Year’s Eve, head to one of the glittering, towering hotels to enjoy some of the best food in town and definitely the best views. They’re also one of the few places in Dubai you can legally drink in the open, so save the cin-cin for these venues.
Some of the most opulent properties include the Burj al Arab, the Fairmont Dubai, InterContinental Dubai Festival City and the Raffles. At the Raffles, the China Moon Champagne Bar is located at the glass apex of the hotel and boasts the highest bar in the city. And even better than the cocktails are the breathtaking 360-degree views of a sparkling, vibrant city set against the expansive quiet of the Arabian Desert.
For those who want to stay at ground level, head over to the Dubai marina at midnight to get a wonderful view of all the different, spectacular fireworks displays from across the city.
Every year, more than a million people descend upon one of the most famous streets in the world, StraBe des 17, to celebrate New Year’s Eve at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate. This enormous structure was once part of the physical separation that divided former East and West Berlin. Since the Wall came down in 1989, it’s become a focal point for New Year’s Eve celebrations, symbolizing freedom, unity and a new beginning.
This free event has a rock-concert atmosphere, with musical performances, live DJs, laser shows, millions of lights and enough beer and wurst to keep you warm for days. The Germans do not skimp on fireworks and at midnight you’ll be treated to a brilliant display. Grab a glass of Sekt (German sparkling wine) and toast the new year with verve.
If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in one of these cities at the end of the year, be sure to toast the New Year at a party that will likely live on in memory for a long time to come.
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