A new year means a new beginning. A chance to start fresh, when anything is possible and you don’t know exactly what adventures lie ahead. We all have our own traditions, and as long as you’re spending time with people you care about, there’s really no wrong way to ring in the new year. But some destinations put on a better show than others, and here are a few at the top of the list.
Featuring not one but two fireworks shows, Sydney Harbour provides an excellent venue for celebration. The festivities kick off while the sun is still out, with a tug-boat water display followed by an air show. A cleansing ceremony honoring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures takes place around sunset, as flares and eucalyptus smoke fill the air. At 9 p.m., there’s an 8-minute fireworks show that serves as both an appetizer for the main event and allows children who might not make it to midnight to celebrate. After that, a parade of elaborately lit boats fills the harbor, ushering in a dazzling fireworks display at the stroke of midnight that illuminates the water and iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge.
If there’s anyone who knows fireworks, it’s the people of Hong Kong. The city celebrates just about everything with a dazzling display, and New Year’s Eve is no exception. Victoria Harbour serves as the setting for this party, which kicks off at 10 p.m. with a performance fusing theater, dance and circus elements. The countdown to midnight starts early, with pyrotechnic shooting stars lighting up the harbor every 15 minutes beginning at 11 p.m. leading up to fireworks being launched from barges and from the roofs of skyscrapers in a dazzling display stretching two thirds of a mile along the waterfront.
Rio de Janeiro
Cariocas never turn down a chance to party, and the thousands of revelers flocking to Copacabana Beach on New Year’s Eve know how to do it right. Adorned in white for peace, green for luck, yellow for wealth, red for passion or purple for inspiration, they eat lentils for health and pork and fish for prosperity in the new year. And of course seven raisins before midnight, storing the seeds in their wallets so they’ll always be full. They then send candles and flowers into Guanabara Bay in honor of the ancient water deity Iemanja before dancing the night away to live music as fireworks explode over the bay.
New York’s Times Square is still the most popular U.S. destination for New Year’s. But it’s not so pleasant lining up for hours in the cold for a short countdown. Better yet, head to South Beach and leave your coat and gloves at home. You’ll need feeling in your limbs to dance as much as the Magic City requires. A variety of DJs, salsa acts and of course Mr. 305 himself, Pitbull, will keep the party jumping long into the wee hours. Plus, it’ll be about 40 degrees warmer than New York.
As with the other entries on this list, Cape Town’s climate and waterfront setting make it a stellar option for ushering in the new year. Festivities actually begin Dec. 30 with the start of a three-day festival in the Durbanville Wine Valley full of food, music and, naturally, wine. At the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, the New Year’s Eve celebrations kick off at 7 p.m. in four activity zones representing earth, air, fire and water. Everything converges at midnight with fireworks igniting over the water and Table Mountain, which is the perfect spot for a pre-party hike to work up an appetite for a wonderful dinner and maybe a sip or two of Champagne.