Seven great cities to celebrate New Year’s Eve


Ring in the new year by celebrating in one of these top cities. 

Image credit: Nikada/iStock
Image credit: Nikada/iStock

From Scotland’s Hogmanay to New York City’s ball drop, from Sydney’s summer-night celebration to Dubai’s Burj Khalifa fireworks, it’s hard to choose where exactly in the world to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

Fireworks over iconic cityscapes are a given, but the atmosphere and traditions change from destination to destination. Here’s our list of the top places to celebrate New Year’s Eve. 

Edinburgh – A three-day Viking tradition 

Fireworks over the Edinburgh skyline, from Calton Hill. Image credit: georgeclerk/iStock
Fireworks over the Edinburgh skyline, from Calton Hill. Image credit: georgeclerk/iStock

Scotland celebrates New Year’s Eve with a three-day event called Hogmanay. Although events are held in destinations across the country, head to Edinburgh for the liveliest experience. Street parties reach record numbers with thousands heading out to take in DJ sets, Viking processions, bonfires, and musical performers. On December 30, a torchlight procession makes its way through Edinburgh’s Old Town, forming a river of light which is recorded from above. 

On New Years’ Eve itself, on the stroke of midnight, choreographed fireworks are released over Edinburgh Castle before revelers link arms to sing the Robert Burns poem “Auld Lang Syne”. The next morning, shake off the hangover by joining the Loony Dook tradition where locals run into the icy waters of South Queensferry, a few miles out of Edinburgh. This is often done in fancy dress to raise money for charity. Those not keen on getting wet can join the crowds watching from the sidelines. 

New York City – The iconic ball drop 

Times Square in New York City. Image credit: georgeclerk/iStock
Times Square in New York City. Image credit: georgeclerk/iStock

New York City’s ball drop first took place in 1907 and has been descending on New Year’s Eve ever since – except during World War II where it paused for two years. The glittering disco ball sits atop One Times Square in Times Square and accompanies the countdown of the final 60 seconds of the year. It’s broadcast around the world to millions of viewers but, to watch in person, you’ll need to join the tight crowd of onlookers in Times Square by mid-afternoon to get a spot. Along with the ball drop, musical performances and celebrity appearances entertain the crowds. 

If crowds aren’t your thing, swap Times Square for Coney Island, Prospect Park, or Brooklyn Bridge to watch the fireworks display over the New York City skyline. 

Sydney – Summer night in the harbor 

New Year's Eve celebrations in Sydney. Image credit: New Year's Eve fireworks and celebrations in Sydney, Australia. Image credit: LeoPatrizi/iStock
New Year’s Eve fireworks and celebrations in Sydney, Australia. Image credit: LeoPatrizi/iStock

As the first major city to ring in the new year, all eyes will be on Sydney as one of the night’s first celebrations kick off.

Fireworks shower over the Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge as crowds cover the bay, parks, and beaches below. Enjoy the summer evening with an outside vantage point at Bradfield Park, Luna Park, or Birchgrove Park.

While many vantage points are free to enter, others are ticketed – with tickets going on sale and selling out months before the big night. For a more private experience, book a cruise to take in the display from the water or charter a private yacht

Dubai – The world’s tallest building lit up 

Downtown Dubai. Image credit: alexeys/iStock
Downtown Dubai. Image credit: alexeys/iStock

Dubai is home to the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, which of course features in the city’s New Year’s Eve festivities.

Fireworks are released, a light and water show takes over the Dubai Fountain, and concerts and parties rage in the hotels, resorts, and clubs, including within the Burj Khalifa itself.

Many nightclubs, restaurants, and hotels hold parties and performances, most with impressive views of the fireworks at midnight. Head to the Dubai Opera, Madinat Jumeirah Resort or Atlantis, the Palm for an elegant dinner, gala, party, or private beach experiences close to the display.

Rio de Janeiro – Celebrations on the beach 

Aerial view of Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro. Image credit: Cleber Macedo/iStock
Aerial view of Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro. Image credit: Cleber Macedo/iStock

Famous for samba, music and, of course, carnival, Brazilians celebrate New Year’s Eve – or “Réveillon” – in style. Head to Rio de Janeiro’s famous Copacabana beach to ring in the new year with fireworks over the ocean.

Locals wear all white, which is said to honor Iemanjá, the Goddess of the Sea, and dance the night away to musical performances and pyrotechnics. 

The beach itself fills up quick with two to three million partygoers hitting the sand. Alternatively, head to Copacabana Palace or Windsor Excelsior hotel for parties with views of the fireworks and the beach or one of the many bars in the Lapa neighborhood for samba dancing and Caipirinhas, Brazil’s national cocktail. 

Singapore – Rooftop bars for incredible views 

Singapore skyline at sunset. Image credit: southtownboy/iStock
Singapore skyline at sunset. Image credit: southtownboy/iStock

Join thousands of revelers and take in Singapore’s iconic skyline by heading to the Marina Bay Countdown, an event taking place in the Marina Bay area.

Food carts and carnival rides keep the crowds entertained before a light and sound show, along with fireworks, ring in the first minutes of the year. For views across the city, head to one of the many rooftop bars in Singapore.

Ce La Vi, atop of the famous Marina Bay Sands hotel; Lavo, with views of the Gardens by the Bay; and Smoke and Mirrors, on top of the National Gallery, all offer views of the city and a glitzy ambiance. 

Paris – Famous monuments come alive 

Eiffel Tower in Paris. Image credit: Nikada/iStock
Eiffel Tower in Paris. Image credit: Nikada/iStock

The City of Lights lights up for New Year’s Eve with firework displays taking place across the city. Head to the Champs de Mars to ring in the new year just below the Eiffel Tower, the Champs-Élysées to party on the city’s famous boulevard or the Sacre-Cœur for views from Montmartre which span the Parisian skyline.

The party continues late into the night in bars and clubs across the city. Book dinner and a cabaret show at the Moulin Rouge or join one of the many bar crawls in Pigalle. Alternatively, spend the evening cruising down the Seine and watching the fireworks from the glass-topped Bateaux Parisiens boat.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Vanessa Gibbs

Vanessa Gibbs is a freelance writer covering travel around the world for magazines and brands. Away from her laptop, she likes to explore her hometown of London, scuba dive wherever she can, and collect passport stamps along the way.