Top 5 destinations to ring in the new year
Every city has its New Year's Eve celebration, but some cities are worth traveling to for their renowned merrymaking. If the thought of singing "Auld Lang Syne" at the same place each year or watching the ball drop at home becomes too much to bear again, book a flight to the one of these celebrated cities — places known for their spirited, jaw-dropping spectacles — to ring in the new year.
New York City
Experience the most famous New Year's Eve celebration of all in person at Times Square. Since 1906, millions have gathered in the streets around the tower atop One Times Square to watch the ball descend as they ring in the new year. Today, Times Square feels like the center of the universe on New Year's Eve. Nearly a million people gather in the streets; confetti drifts like snow and top musical acts perform onstage as cameras capture the festivities for audiences far and wide. Don't forget to wave while celebrating, because the whole world is watching.
One of the largest fireworks displays on earth dazzles viewers in Sydney each December 31. Harbour Bridge, next to the iconic Sydney Opera House, is the focal point of the event, where giant colorful chrysanthemums of light burst overhead while fountains of firelight spout from the girders. The harbor is filled with boats full of onlookers, but you'll find the best vantage points on any of the many peninsulas that jut into the water around the bridge. For the best closeup views, head to the Royal Botanic Gardens, where there are free gathering areas and ticketed events such as "Midnight at the Oasis."
The City of Light earns its nickname on La Réveillon de Saint Sylvestre — as New Year's Eve is known in France — when Paris is bathed in even more illumination than usual. The Champs-Élysées, one of the more renowned thoroughfares on the planet, brims with champagne-toasting revelers. Another popular gathering spot is Sacré- Cœur on top of Montmartre, with its breathtaking city skyline views. At midnight, all eyes turn southward across the Seine to the Left Bank and the Eiffel Tower, backlit by a soaring display of fireworks easily seen all around the city.
Rio de Janeiro
Drawing up to 2 million people each year, Rio boasts one of the world's largest Véspera de Ano Novo celebrations. The festivities take on a Carnival-like atmosphere in the streets and along the wide, curving beaches. Locals and tourists alike dress in white to bring good luck in the new year. Copacabana Beach is the center of the action. Fueled by champagne and cachaça (the rum-like national liquor of Brazil) cocktails and the strains of samba music, revelers throw flowers into the surf in tribute to the sea goddess Yemanjá. The surreal fireworks display takes place over the water, from barges lined up along the coast.
In Tokyo, they literally ring in the new year by lining up at temples for the traditional ringing of the bell 108 times. This is the time of "hatsumode," the first Shinto shrine visit of the year, when prayers are said for health, luck and peace. The place to be at midnight is Meji Shrine, where up to three million people gather. Fireworks aren't a common way to celebrate New Year's in the Land of the Rising Sun, but Tokyo is brimming with revelry well past midnight, especially at its many electronic dance music clubs, including the mammoth Sound Museum Vision.
The world's great cities are where you'll discover the biggest New Year's Eve celebrations on the planet. No matter which continent you find yourself on, come ready for a fun-filled cultural experience beyond compare.
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