Another year has gone and there were some incredible festivities around the world. If your New Year’s Eve ended in the usual anti climax of queues and busy crowds in the same bar you go to all year, then why not plan something different to see out 2017? If you fancy planning a more exotic finish to they year then these are the places to get booked into…
The Scottish capital holds three days of Hogmanay celebrations. Every year thousands of people from around the globe gather in the city on 30 December to kick off the festivities, which begins with a torch lit parade from Parliament Square to Calton Hill where fireworks set the sky ablaze with a magnificent show. The following night on New Year’s Eve yet more merriment is to be had with revellers gathering to partake in wild processions and parties throughout the city, which culminate in raucous renditions of Auld Lang Syne. Celebrations continue right the way through to New Year’s Day with outdoor concerts, ceilidhs in the Assembly Rooms and theatre all over town. The Balmoral is the grandest hotel located in the heart of the city centre, and there is no better place to recover from Hogmanay celebrations in world-class luxury.
Goa, South India
If sinking your toes into the warm sand and dancing under the stars until sunrise is your ideal way to welcome in the New Year, then head to Anjuna or Palolem on the coast of India’s good-time state. Traditionalists may say Goa’s parties are not what they used to be, but with fireworks and celebrations dotted all along the coast, it’s hard to beat splashing in the shallow waves whilst frolicking on the beach at the best of times, but New Year’s Eve is the greatest time of year to party in Goa. You can always end your week of enthusiastic partying with a spot of healthy living and yoga in a retreat up north before heading home. The Taj Exotica, equidistant from Anjuna and Palolem, is a quiet haven just 150 metres from the Arabian Sea where you can spend long, luxurious sun-drenched days.
New York City, USA
Times Square is an iconic place to see in the New Year and is somewhere everyone should experience once in their lifetime. See the ball drop, performances from world famous musicians and soak up the energy from the packed crowds. If you don’t like the thought of all those people crammed together, try one of the bars or restaurants overlooking the square (though you’ll need to get booking now and have plenty of $$ to spare!)
London has an overwhelming abundance of New Year’s Eve celebrations to choose from, but if you know where to go, you can spend the final few hours of the year in some of the sexiest locations, so you can be sure to count down in style. Every year The Ritz celebrates New Year with black-tie dinners accompanied by marching bands, with cocktails and Champagne flowing in the Art Deco bar. It is a glamorous and elegant evening which has been held every year since the 1920s. 35 floors above London’s dramatic and glittering skyline, Sky Garden is hosting a glamorous and elegant Great Gatsby themed soiree, with live music and guests dressed to impress. And of course there are the spectacular fireworks over the Thames, which never fail to delight, but there is no need to watch if from the banks of the river if you can join in the world’s biggest boat Party on the River Thames. Partygoers can watch the city fireworks between the Hungerford Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge, with fantastic views of the world famous firework display.
If you want to be one of the first people around the world to see in the New Year then Sydney is the place to be. It’s the first major city to see in the celebrations and puts on a show worthy of that accolade. With two incredible fireworks shows in front of the beautiful setting of Sydney harbour, you’ll struggle for a more iconic start to a new year. If you want to go all out, it’s even possible to see in the New Year here and then fly to California and do it all over again (though you’ll need your own private jet!).
Hong Kong, China
Frenetic and intense Hong Kong celebrates New Year in a whirlwind and flurry of fireworks over the Victoria Harbour, which you can either watch from a traditional junk along the shoreline or from one of the city’s many world-class rooftop bars. But if you can’t make it over there for December, then there’s always Chinese New Year. The Chinese calendar combines both the Gregorian and lunar-solar calendars, so Chinese New Year can begin anytime between late January and mid-February. You can expect a cacophony of noise combining firecrackers, drums, gongs and cymbals, as well as traditional parades and lion dancers which add colour to the carnival atmosphere. An impressive evening firework display along the waterfront caps off the celebrations, illuminating the city’s skyline and surrounding mountains.
The Berliners call New Year’s Eve ‘Silvester’, and unsurprisingly, they know how to party. The celebrations are set in Party Mile, stretching between the Brandenburg Gate and Victory Column which hosts food stalls, bars, live music and more up until midnight. Revellers then head off to bars and clubs around the city into the small hours and through New Year’s Day.
Koh Phangan, Thailand
Ideal for the hedonistic hippy revellers, the parties on Thailand’s islands are renowned and raucous all year round, but the mother of all of them is New Year’s Eve on Koh Phangan, home to the wild and world-famous full moon party. The parties start along Sunrise Beach in Haad Rin at sunset, and continue well beyond sunrise into the following afternoon. As rowdy and as hectic as it sounds, it’s best to go for civilised cocktails and dinner on the west side of the island, before joining the party just before midnight. It’s best to conserve your energy, and (if you’re up for it) head back to Sunset Beach for a dip in the sea at dawn to start the New Year off like no other. Escape to the northern reaches of the island and stay at the effortlessly stylish and peaceful Panviman Resort, a prime location hotel with stunning views across the Gulf of Thailand.
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
It will come as no surprise that Rio hosts an incredible New Year’s Eve party full of Samba, sequins and sensational dancing. Head down to Copacabana Beach for ‘Réveillon’ where there is live music and dancing and incredible fireworks to cap off the night and see in the New Year. Celebrations go on into the night and moves to the bars and clubs around Rio once the beach party dies down. If you can’t make it to Rio for Carnival then this is undoubtedly the next best thing.
James Jayasundera is Founder and Managing Director of Ampersand Travel.