Travel Ten: Top Ten Places to Celebrate the New Year

The beginning of a new year is a magical time when most of us let go of the year past and look forward to new hopes and new joys a brand new year holds in all its magic and sparkle. What makes this time of the year even more sparkly is spending in a place you have not been before, blending in with the locals and making new friends as you ring in the new year.

While you may be sitting in your living room in your onesie munching on Christmas leftovers this year, why not think of all the new places where you can usher in the new year this time next year? Here is our list of top ten places to spend New Year’s.


New York, USA

Why? This may be cliché but some things are clichés for a reason. What beats the Ball Drop at Times Square at midnight on 31 December? The tradition dating back to 1907 involves the iconic 12-foot glittering sphere weighing 11,875 pounds dropped from a flagpole on top of One Times Square as revelers on the streets count down the seconds to the New Year.


As the square is blitzed with one ton of shimmering confetti, it’s time for one of the greatest parties in the world, complete with pyrotechnic lightshow, concerts and the New Year's Eve Wishing Wall, where partygoers can write down their hopes for the New Year.


Where to Stay: Renaissance Hotel on 714 Seventh Avenue. Not only will you enjoy staying at this chic hotel, to avoid the masses and enjoy the party from up above, you can book a table at the hotel’s R Lounge which offers a great view of the Times Square festivities with its floor-to-ceiling windows.


Reykjavik, Iceland

Why? Where else can you spend the night partying into the small hours with fellow revellers and welcome the New Year with a refreshing soak at the hot springs? The party kicks off with bonfires symbolising the burning away of the past year’s troubles followed by parties all across town and fireworks. 


Where to Stay: A stylish hotel in the heart of Reykjavik, Centerhotel Arnarhvoll offers impeccable luxury accommodation within walking distance of the city centre.



Edinburgh, Scotland

Why? Highland nights may be a tad colder than most of us are used to but that doesn’t stop a great party. Join the revellers on New Year’s Eve for the four-day festival, Hogmanay, complete with concerts, a torch parade through the city and a giant Ceilidh (a traditional Celtic party) on Princes Street.


As the clocks strike midnight, fireworks set the Edinburgh sky ablaze with stunning sights. Of course, Hogmanay is not complete without “Auld Lang Syne” written by famed Scottish poet Robert Burns, sang by revelers in the streets of Edinburgh.

When you feel the pinch of the cold, take refuge in a nearby pub. And if you lose count of the whisky shots, fear not, as New Year’s Day offers the perfect cure for a hangover: swimming in the ice-cold waters of Loony Dock.


Where to Stay: A unique and contemporary luxury five-star property in the very heart of Edinburgh, right in the midst of the Hogmanay celebrations, The Balmoral will guarantee a stylish stay.


Sydney, Australia

Why? Who doesn’t like winning first place? For those who thrive on leading the pack, Sydney is the first major city to celebrate the New Year.


Te city also has on offer one of the most iconic fireworks scenes of worldwide New Year’s celebrations. Every year more than a million people flock to the harbour for the waterfront show featuring stunning aerial acrobatics and a fire tug water display. There is also a Harbour of Light Parade, an illuminated flotilla of more than 50 vessels, and not one but two fireworks shows, the first at 9 p.m. and the second at midnight.

For a more private experience away from the crowds, you can always hire a boat and even travel out to Cockatoo Island for a moonlit celebration and overnight camping.


Where to Stay: At Sebel Pier One built over the water, not only do you get to have the best views of the harbour you can also beat the crowds with pre-reserved pier space to watch the New Year’s fireworks.


Cape Town, South Africa

Why? Where else can you celebrate the New Year in the sun and atop one of the world’s natural wonders?

As the city celebrates below, you can join in the fun atop Table Mountain where you can watch the V&A Waterfront fireworks and party till 12.30am.


That’s not all though. On New Year’s Day, you can join the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival parade, with 10,000 performers in whiteface paint dancing and singing in the streets, and then head to the beach to kick off the year with a refreshing dip.


Where to Stay: Along Cape Town’s stunning V&A waterfront, One and Only is guaranteed to offer you the ultimate luxury stay as well as stunning views of the Table Mountains and the waterfront.  


London, England

Why? Nothing compares to celebrating New Year’s in the very city that is home to the Greenwich meridian, the prime meridian of the world, birthing the concept of international time.


London holds a three-hour long street party with revellers gathering along the River Thames and on the city’s many bridges to watch the fireworks over London Eye when the world-famous Big Ben rings in the New Year.

For a more private experience, you can opt for a Thames dinner cruise.


Where to Stay: A short walk away from the street parties and overlooking the Thames is the iconic Savoy Hotel where you can slip into your bed after a night of revelry. On New Year’s Day you can also enjoy “tipsy tea” cocktails with finger sandwiches and scones with clotted cream in the hotel’s Art Deco Beaufort Bar.

Vienna, Austria

Why? New Year’s Eve doesn’t get more scenic than in Vienna with streets lit up in festive lights and Christmas markets turned New Year Fairs. Revellers start gathering on the Silvesterpfad, or New Year’s Path, in the city centre from 2pm. At midnight, as the Pummerin bell from the tower of St. Stephen’s Cathedral rings in the New Year, fireworks over the Wiener Prater fun fair light up the Viennese skies.


If you’re after Vienna’s famed elegance, you should attend the glamorous "Grand Ball" at Hofburg Palace, a dinner cruise along the Danube or The Majestic Imperator train which offer a stylish black tie dinner and stop on a Danube bridge at midnight for a stunning view of the fireworks.


Where to Stay: Located in the heart of the city, the 5-star Hotel Imperial combines traditional elegance with contemporary comfort.


Maui, Hawaii

Why? New Year’s at in Hawaii offers a wide range of celebration options from a romantic dinner on the beach to traditional Hawaiian luau. And after you’ve partied the night away, make sure you welcome a new day atop Haleakala to see the first sunrise of the new year.


Where to Stay: Take in the magic scenery of Hawaii at Four Seasons Maui at a private enclave nestled on the city’s southwest coast with the lush tropical gardens and the dramatic peak of Haleakala as the backdrop.



Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand

Why? There are beach parties, then there is the beach party to end all beach parties: New Year’s Eve party on Sunrise Beach in Haad Rin, home to the notorious Full Moon party, the biggest beach bash in the world. The party kicks off at sunset and reaches its peak at midnight with some 30,000+ revellers raving. But fear not, the fun goes way beyond midnight, beyond sunrise, well into the following afternoon.


If by sunrise you need a refreshing wake up call, you can head over to Sunset Beach for a dawn swim.


Where to stay: Leave the hardcore ravers behind on Sunrise Beach and take an early morning boat to the upmarket resort Anantara Rasananda Koh Phangan Villa Resort and Spa, a tropical paradise tucked amidst the coconut trees – ultimate seclusion and tranquillity.


Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Why? Where else can you go champagne popping, samba dancing, flower gifting but on Rio’s world-famous stretch of sand? While most of us associate Rio with the carnival, New Year’s celebrations in Brazil’s cultural capital are equally riotous and captivating. Keep with the local tradition and wear white for good luck and head out to the famous Copacabana beach, the host of the New Year’s Eve party, The party kicks off around 8pm with music to get the crowd in the mood for what is one of the biggest parties in the city. The festivities feature fairground attractions, samba and carnivalesque costumes.


The revellers toss flowers into the sea as a gift to Yemanja, the goddess of the seas and as the clocks strike midnight, boats set off vibrant fireworks over the ocean.


Where to stay: Why, Copacabana Palace of course, with priceless views of Rio’s most famous beach of the same name. What else can beat opening the balcony doors to your ocean view deluxe suite to welcome a new year in with such spectacular views of the beach and the ocean?

By Sinem Bilen-Onabanjo