It’s that time of the year again. Three weeks of spending time with your family, welcoming Father Christmas, and then wishing the past year a loving goodbye. The last time the world celebrated New Year’s Eve with a little bit of spice and spunk was in 2019 while welcoming 2020. December 2020 was spent waiting for the vaccines and hoping that the next year would bring better vibes. Well, with the threat of the virus bated with vaccinations and the approaching New Year’s Eve 2021, here’s a list of destinations for you to spend the last day of 2021 in style.
New Year Celebrations In New York
Where to go in New York? No New Year’s Eve list is complete without Times Square’s Ball Drop. This event is a true American tradition. The ball signifies New Year’s Day and has been dropped every single year since the first drop in 1907. The countdown leading up to the drop is a sight to behold in itself, with people flocking from all over the world to witness this arrival of the new year. If you’re someone who wishes to welcome the New Year with live music and fireworks, then Prospect Park in Manhattan is the spot for you.
Where to Stay in New York? The Pearl Hotel, Renaissance Times Square, and New York Marriott Marquis all offer excellent Ball Drop views.
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New Year Celebrations In London
Where to go in London? London has something to offer everyone when it comes to New Year’s Eve. You could go on a New Year’s Eve cruise along the Thames and choose between sightseeing, dining in a modern City Cruises RiverLiner, or taking a traditional boat trip with champagne and music! There are a lot of live shows and concerts to enjoy too, like a performance of The Nutcracker by the Birmingham Royal Ballet at the Royal Albert Hall or a classical concert by the London Concert Orchestra at the Barbican. To start the New Year, London will offer you the opportunity to witness the London New Year’s Day Parade 2022 with nearly 10,000 performers such as motorcyclists, traditional Chinese dragon and lion dances, and even the Rio Carnival through the Carnaval del Pueblo.
Where to stay in London? London Marriott County Hall, Me London by Melia, Shangri-La Hotel, At the Shard London
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New Year Celebrations in Sydney
Where to go in Sydney? Brilliant displays of fireworks, light shows and shows at the Taronga Zoo are Sydney’s definition of a family-friendly New Year’s Eve. Sydney Harbour’s dedication for putting on a show with their fireworks is unparalleled – they have a new theme each year, and each year the pyrotechnicians involve several effects such as the Waterfall, the Birthday Cake and the Bridge effect to enhance the effect of the fireworks. The bridge is also home to the best light show of the year. If you’re someone who would instead enjoy a peaceful NYE without the hubbub of the Harbour, then you could book a camping spot at Cockatoo Island to enjoy a moonlit picnic and an overnight camping expedition to view the New Year’s sunrise over Sydney.
Where to stay in Sydney? Quay West Suites Sydney Hotel, Intercontinental Sydney, Four Seasons Sydney
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New Year Celebrations in Rio De Janeiro
Where to go in Rio? The ideal way for celebrating your New Year’s Eve in Rio de Janeiro is to head to the Copacabana beach for the world’s largest and wildest New Year’s Party. With nearly two million visitors to give you company, you’ll get to celebrate the New Year with a raging crowd on a nearly two-and-a-half-mile long stretch of the beach. The locals mark the occasion by wearing white hats and tossing flowers into the sea, the long-standing tradition. What makes the party such a rager are oceanfront stages with live musical and dance performances to groove to as you wait to welcome the New Year.
Where to Stay in Rio? Belmond Copacabana Palace, Pestana Rio Atlantica
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New Year Celebrations in Venice
Where to go in Venice? Piazza San Marco or St Mark’s Square is the place to go to enjoy a true Venetian New Year. The historical Piazza is Venice’s principal public square and is also the hottest place in the city during the New Year. Come Eve day, the piazza is littered with a cheerful crowd all present to witness the live performances and wait out the countdown until the New Year. Since the Basilica of St Mark is a protected area, it is not advisable to carry alcohol. The ringing of the bells at the Campanile indicates the New Year’s arrival, and the city celebrates its arrival with a colourful fireworks display illuminating the Riva Degli Schiavoni.
Where to stay in Venice? The Gritti Palace, Hotel Flora, Residenza De L’Osmarin
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New Year Celebrations in Cape Town
Where to go in Cape Town? The main celebration to head to is the Victoria Falls for the New Year’s Carnival. This carnival has everything, from live music to dinner, you name it, it has it. The festivities span three days, and on the last day, the carnival offers live music and even a carnival train. In addition, the Victoria and Albert Waterfront is home to an exceptional concert and a midnight fireworks display. You can view these while picnicking on Table Mountain, or you can join the hordes of party-goers at the beach to party the night away.
Where to stay in Cape Town? Taj Cape Town, Ellerman House, Belmond Mount Nelson
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New Year Celebrations in Edinburgh
Where to go in Edinburgh? If street dancing, fireworks, music concerts are your go-to for New Year’s Eve ideas, then Edinburg is the place for you. Besides the more conventional celebrations (yes, including the concerts with internationally acclaimed artists), Edinburgh is home to the three-day-long festival of the Hogmanay Celebrations. The festivities include the First footing (visiting friends and family right after midnight to be the first ones to wish them) and the torchlight procession (a blazing stroll through the city with fire and light installations that culminates in lighting a small candle at the Holyrood Park). The last tradition is to take a dip in the freezing waters at Loony Dook in fancy dress to dust off the cobwebs of the previous year on New Year’s morning.
Where to stay in Edinburgh? Hilton Edinburgh Carlton, Principal Edinburgh George Street, Prestonfield House
New Year Celebrations in Ho Chi Minh City
Where to go in Ho Chi Minh City? Although Saigon’s main celebration occurs on the lunar New Year, the Gregorian New Year is still a sight to behold in Vietnam’s Capital. The Nguyen Hue Walking Street is the perfect spot to enjoy New Year’s Eve in Ho Chi Minh City. Take a stroll from the People’s Committee Building to the Saigon River, all while enjoying the Walking Street’s offerings of street performers, snacks and a decent view of the Fireworks. Speaking of the fireworks, Saigon offers an exceptional New Year’s night sky of fireworks that go off near the Bitexco tower (the tallest building in District 1) at midnight. Ho Chi Minh City also offers the option of celebrating New Year’s Eve while cruising down the Saigon River for an exceptional and uninterrupted view of the fireworks.
Where to stay in Ho Chi Minh City? Sofitel Saigon Plaza, Le Meridien Saigon, Hotel Continental Saigon
New Year Celebrations in St Petersburg
Where to go in St Petersburg? The go-to spot for New Year’s Eve in the capital of Imperial Russia is the fireworks display at the Peter and Paul fortress by the banks of the Neva River. Nearly half the city watches the fireworks from this spot at 3 am. To get a spectacular view of the fireworks, head over to the bridge that opens to Palace Square. But before enjoying these post-midnight fireworks, you could head over to the Palace Square to view the New Year Tree on Palace Square with a countdown clock and an entertainment program before the main fireworks. You could also visit the New Year Fair on Ostrovsky Square to participate in the activities and competitions or skate at the ice rink.
Where to stay in St Petersburg? Belmond Grand Hotel Europe, Astoria Hotel, The Trezzini Palace Hotel
New Year Celebrations in the Bahamas
Where to go in the Bahamas? The playground of the rich and famous is the best place to celebrate New Year’s Eve – with parades, masquerade balls and street performances to keep you entertained. Several raging parties are held across the beaches that you can attend to get into the New Year’s Spirit before witnessing the gorgeous fireworks display at midnight. Traditional folk celebrations mark the party. The Bahamas also has a selection of light artists, carnival walks and band walks to ensure that you proceed into the next year after a night you’ll never forget.
Where to stay in the Bahamas? Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, The Cove of Atlantis, The Ocean Club (Four Seasons)
New Year Celebrations in Hong Kong
Where to go in Hong Kong? The celebrations in Hong Kong begin at the Times Square Shopping Mall, where Hong Kong hosts its very own replica of the New York Times Square Ball Drop. This is your chance to witness the city’s gorgeous skyline light up with a spectacular display of fireworks. But the fireworks are just predecessors to a climax that is beyond description. The finale of a brilliant pyrotechnic dragon follows the fireworks that hurtles through the sky in all its magnificent fiery glory.
Where to stay in Hong Kong? The Ritz Carlton, Grand Hyatt, Renaissance Hong Kong, Rambler Oasis
New Year Celebrations in Koh Phangan, Thailand
Where to go in Koh Phangan? Home to the world’s most famous full moon party, Koh Phangan is the spot for an all-night rager to welcome the New Year. The full moon parties take place at Haad Rin every year, and a party is held there on New Year’s Eve regardless of the status of the Moon. The aim is to dance, drink and party the night away until you can see the sun peeking from the horizon. A dazzling display of fireworks compensates for the lack of a full moon at midnight to commemorate the New Year. If ragers are not something you enjoy, you could go and enjoy a peaceful dinner at the sunset side of the island.
Where to stay in Koh Phangan? Anantara Hotel, Koh Ma Beach Resort, Tantawan Bungalows
New Year Celebrations in Tokyo
Where to go in Tokyo? A four-day-long party from the end of December to the beginning of January is your treat for celebrating New Year’s Eve in Tokyo. The city has various countdowns throughout, along with street parties and fireworks displays. For example, you could witness the countdown at the Zojo-ji Temple to celebrate New Year’s Eve under the Tokyo Tower and then conduct the “hatsumode” – the traditional first shrine visit of the year. When the countdown is finished, the New Year’s arrival is marked by a monk ringing a bell 108 times. If you’re more of a traditional countdown person with a street party waiting for the New Year to arrive, the Shibuya New Years Countdown Event is the spot for you.
Where to stay in Tokyo? Mandarin Oriental Tokyo, Peninsula Tokyo, Ritz Carlton, Shangri-La, Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills
New Year Celebrations in Beirut
Where to go in Beirut? Beirut is the most happening place for a New Year’s Eve – the city’s sprawling Nightlife ensures that you can party until dawn without needing to return to the same place. You could bar hop, visit the various casinos to try your hand, or dance the night away at one of Beirut’s many nightclubs. There’s also the option to laugh your way to the New year by going to the New Years Comedy Shows at the Regency Palace Hotel.
Where to stay in Beirut? The Albergo, Four Seasons Hotel, Radisson Blu Martinez Hotel
New Year Celebrations in Goa
Where to go in Goa? Goa is the party hub of India, and for a good reason too. The state is known for its beach parties and to enjoy New Year’s Eve. With gorgeous displays of fireworks and lights along the beach (mainly around Anjuna), accompanied by live performances by world-class DJs, Goa is the Indian party-goers paradise. Another place to celebrate in Goa, but privately and away from the hubbub, is to rent a private Beach villa at Aswem beach in Northern Goa. Here you can party with friends and family and also witness the New Year’s phenomenon of the Olive Ridley Turtles in the prime of their nesting season.
Where to stay in Goa? Vivanta by Taj, The Leela Goa, Lalit Golf Resort and Spa, Grand Hyatt
New Year Celebrations in Prague
Where to go in Prague? Another epic spot in Europe for partying, Prague’s New Year’s Eve is quintessentially spent on Jazz cruises and boat parties. Combine your New Year’s Celebrations with a served menu, live jazz and a journey through the Vlatava River, witnessing some of Prague’s most recognizable landmarks. Fireworks shows start at midnight at Wenceslas Square. You can also catch this show from the square itself or the New Square. There are also Christmas Markets that you can enjoy at these squares.
Where to stay in Prague? Hilton, Four Seasons, Charles Bridge Premium Apartments, Augustine Prague
New Year Celebrations in Kuala Lumpur
Where to go in Kuala Lumpur? The biggest of Malaysia’s Capital’s celebrations take place at the KLCC Park. Every year sees live performances by local and international artists who host brilliant performances to commemorate the new year’s coming against the twin towers’ backdrop. Another place to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Kuala Lumpur is to head to the Curve Shopping Mall to participate in the city’s biggest street party, with more live performances by local artists and fireworks at midnight. Finally, Merdeka Square is the place for you if you prefer to commemorate your New Year with flag-waving, marching bands and traditional dances.
Where to stay in Kuala Lumpur? Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur, Impiana KLCC, Grand Hyatt, Trader’s Hotel
New Year Celebrations in Vienna
Where to go in Vienna? Mulled Wine, Toffee apples, gala dinners, and opera performances. New Year’s in Vienna has something for everyone. You can enjoy art exhibitions at various galleries across the city or cruise along the Danube to welcome the New Year. At midnight, you have the option of visiting the Stephansplatz to hear the Pummerin’s midnight chimes live in front of the cathedral or to see the Rathaus Platz for the communal waltz and the fireworks display.
Where to stay in Vienna? Melia Vienna, Hotel Imperial Vienna, Hotel Rathaus, Hotel Stefanie
New Year Celebrations in Ubud, Bali
Where to go in Ubud? Ubud, Bali is a must for a subdued yet soulful welcome to the New Year. The main street hosts a small scale celebration with low-key music and dance recitals. Ubud has nearly everything – from traditional dance performances to jazz music, from Latin dance recitals to traditional music shows. The calmer celebrations mean that you can be together with your family or loved one and spend quality time together on the last night of the year. Ubud also has a few parties held at hotels with a few black-tie events that you can event.
Where to stay in Ubud? Kaamala Resort, Adiwana Bisma, Capella Ubud & Viceroy Ubud.
New Year Celebrations in Chiang Mai
Where to go in Chiang Mai? Chiang Mai is another low-key spot to celebrate your New Year with lights. Here too, the sky lights up at midnight but not in fireworks (those come a bit later). Here lanterns do the lighting. Tourists and locals alike gather on the banks of the Mae Ping River to light paper lanterns. The lanterns are symbols of hope and renewal for the new year – hope that the year will go well and revival of all the good fortune you’ve had in the previous year. The countdown begins after the lanterns have been lit, and at the stroke of midnight, the lanterns are released into the sky simultaneously. Ground Zero, around The Pae Gate, hosts live performances leading up to midnight and then has a show of fireworks.
Where to stay in Chiang Mai? Le Meridian, Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai, Anantara Chiang Mai
New Year Celebrations in Taipei
Where to go in Taipei? Asia’s most iconic countdown begins at the 101 building in Taipei. The highlight of New Year’s Eve in Taipei, the countdown is the soul of the city – followed by this is a massive display of fireworks, combined with one of the world’s biggest street parties. The Municipality lights up the 101 Building floor by floor in anticipation of midnight and as a countdown until the Gregorian New Year. There are also midnight fireworks at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, and concerts are held downtown, with local and international artists headlining the shows. If you want to enjoy the fireworks peacefully and from a distance, you can climb up Elephant Mountain to view the fireworks at midnight.
Where to stay in Taipei? Grand Hyatt Taipei, Eslite Hotel, Humble House Taipei, LeaLea Garden Hotels
New Year Celebrations in Seoul
Where to go in Seoul? Seoul is the perfect place to enjoy a New Year’s Eve with both western conventional and traditional Korean. The Bosingak Bell ringing ceremony is held at Jongno where 16 different people, including the mayor of Seoul, ring the Bosingak Bell 33 times for prosperity and good luck for everyone. The Lotte World Tower Fireworks are a sight to behold in Jamsil, where the fireworks are set off from the tallest building in Korea, the Lotte Tower. Another spot to view New Year’s fireworks is the Seoul N Tower. To celebrate the New Year in a more traditionally Korean manner, head over to the Homigot Sunrise Festival to view the new year’s first sunrise. Leading up to the sunrise are local cultural performances, fireworks and a sunrise concert.
Where to stay in Seoul? Signiel, Imperial Palace Seoul, The Shilla, The Westin Josun
© This article was first published online in Dec 2021 – World Travel Magazine.