Ring in the New Year with the grandest firework displays around the world.
Dubai, Edinburgh, Taipei, Sydney, Las Vegas
Ring in the New Year with the grandest firework displays around the world
More is most definitely more in Dubai, what with its skyscrapers set in the clouds, sprawling, man-made archipelagos, and its unique brand of unadulterated luxury fit for royalty, so it’s no surprise that its New Year’s celebrations subscribe to the same maximalist style. Dubai also set the world record for the largest ever firework display in 2014, and this year’s display looks set to be just as grand – if not, grander. There’s no one particular location where the fireworks will be taking place – on December 31, you’re likely to see a stunning display cover every inch of the sky in Dubai, and with a bevvy of upscale nightspots offering premium packages, you’re guaranteed to have a New Year’s celebration to remember in this glistening city.
The Dubai Opera, a key cultural icon in the city, pulls out all the stops in its themed New Year party with an ultra-glamorous black-and-white theme this year. DJ Said Mrad – one of the Middle East’s most popular DJs – will take over from the live band to keep guests on their feet till 2am. VIP packages offer lounge seats for 12 guests on the breezy terrace, giving you front row seats to the spectacular firework and fountain show at midnight. Dedicated waiters will also be on hand to deliver glasses of only the best bubbly and delectable bites.
Atlantis, one of the first luxury hotels to be built on the wondrous Palm Jumeirah, brings back its annual New Year’s Eve Royal Gala. The private beach transforms into a sprawling dining area lifted straight from a fairytale – with epicurean food and beverages to match. A 30-piece live band will be on hand throughout the night as guests help themselves to unlimited premium drinks and champagne from the open bar, all paired exquisitely with a luxurious buffet spread that ranges from lobster and caviar through smoke salmon and live carving stations. Young children will love the Under the Sea area created specially for them, with an enormous slide, a bouncy castle, an outdoor cinema and other nautical activities planned throughout the night. Either way, the night comes to a climax at midnight, when the entire Palm Jumeirah archipelago lights up with the firework display.
Other places to view the grand displays include the Burj Plaza and any of the gourmet alfresco restaurants that make up the Souk Al Bahar. But you can hardly go wrong when choosing a spot to catch the New Year fireworks in Dubai – with the whole city lit up like a veritable disco ball itself, the celebrations are hard to miss.
Edinburgh’s New Year celebrations are so stellar it even has its own name: Hogmanay is celebrated every year not just on December 31, but in a 3-day festival that’s packed with tons of events, concerts, parties, parades – and of course, exquisite fireworks. December 30 is when the city starts to gear up for its massive celebrations, with thousands of torch-bearers joining up with the vikings from Up Helly Aa to march through the heart of Edinburgh to the resounding beat of drums and pipes. The flaming procession heads down the historic Royal Mile before ending off at Holyrood Park for the grand finale.
The festivities come to a head on December 31, where a massive street party – known colloquially as a ceilidh – takes to Edinburgh’s gothic, cobblestone streets. An incredible selection of live music and entertainment, coupled with outdoor bars, will be set in the looming shadow of the mighty Edinburgh Castle. At midnight, the castle ramparts will come alive with the glow of the city’s spectacular firework celebrations – partygoers take that as a cue to join hands and sing in the world’s biggest rendition of Auld Lang Syne.
The Balmoral, the Victorian hotel that towers over Edinburgh as one of its most famous and iconic landmarks, will also play host to a lavish gala ball on New Year’s Eve. Its a thrilling blend of modern luxuries with Scottish tradition – a live band, including the pipes and drums of the Royal Burgh of Stirling, provides a rousing and dramatic welcome to guests as they settle in for a grand four-course dinner. Expect to savour dishes like Belhaven hot smoked salmon tian and Oscietra caviar alongside Tweed Valley fillet of beef, all impeccably paired with only the finest wines from around the world.
The friendly ceilidh band will also be on hand to offer guests a guiding hand on how to perform the traditional Scottish dance, and as 2019 rolls around, you can catch unparalleled views of the fireworks over the Edinburgh Castle from the Balmoral’s floor-to-ceiling windows.
Given Edinburgh’s rolling hills and lush greenery, a New Year’s picnic is also a popular way that locals like to celebrate the occasion. Head past the grand gated entrance of Inverleith Park to find a sanctuary of well-maintained grass and tree-lined meadows, all of which offer great views of downtown Edinburgh and the fireworks. Blackford Hill is another option located further away from town, but what it lacks in proximity, it more than makes up for in spectacularly unblocked views of the New Year fireworks.
Taipei is home to one of the world’s tallest buildings, the awe-inspiring Taipei 101 – and though the mega-skyscraper is already a sight to behold on any given day, come New Year’s Eve, Taipei 101 turns into a conduit for a spectacular firework show that spans almost four minutes in length. To achieve the illusion of fireworks emerging from the tower’s different floors, professional climbers have to scale the mighty skyscraper in the days leading up to the performance to settle the racks into the building’s facade. Internationally acclaimed musicians also arrange special music scores to provide a fitting soundtrack to the firework show, often mixing international and Taiwanese tracks to reflect the Asian city’s metropolitan heart. In all, Taipei’s yearly firework show is a feast for all five senses.
Taipei is one of Asia’s most electrifying cities to be in, especially during the New Year season. Put on your trendiest outfit and go partying with the locals on December 31 at Amba, a boutique design hotel located just around the corner from Taipei 101 in the heart of the fashionable Zhongshan district. The hotel is offering several packages for guests to usher in the New Year in style – a great deal, since several of its room categories offer picture-perfect views of Taipei 101 and its stellar firework show. Its plush rooms are the perfect place to prepare for the big party on the 17th floor of the hotel. With its high-vaulted ceilings and polished glass windows, Amba’s high-rise lounge is guaranteed to be a glamorous bash, including live DJs, gourmet canapes, complimentary glasses of wine, and of course, Instagrammable views of Taipei 101.
Alternatively, get an up close and personal view of the fireworks at Frank. This rooftop bar and club has an unbeatable location, and is quite literally perched just opposite Taipei 101, where you can feel every thundering burst and blossom.
Taipei is also blessed with a multitude of great lookout mountains and hiking trails that offer commanding views of the city. Photographers love the Xiangshan Hiking Trail, which offers up a wealth of different platforms with different views of Taipei 101. Jiannan Mountain is a good option for beginners, allowing you to catch not just the fireworks from Taipei 101, but also a great shot of the fireworks from the Miramar Entertainment Park.
One can’t mention New Year’s fireworks without talking about Sydney. Millions around the globe tune in just to see the famed fireworks on the Sydney Harbour every year, which runs for a solid 12 minutes – one for each month in the year – and costs upwards of a billion dollars to host. But if you’ve seen the show in person, you’d wager it is well worth every penny. Fireworks explode off every nuance of the spectacular Harbour Bridge, and they arch from the magnificent Opera House and above Sydney’s glittering downtown towers in a precisely coordinated show.
Ring in 2019 like Gatsby would at one of Sydney’s newest bars, Nick and Nora’s. It’s a cocktail and champagne bar that recalls the golden era of decadent, prohibition-period New York, and its fast becoming one of the city’s most popular haunts. Located on the 26th floor of the stylish V by Crown building, this glamorous cocktail bar boasts uninterrupted views of the Harbour Bridge, allowing guests to toast to the New Year in style.
Sydney’s historic Cockatoo Island is also offering some interesting packages for nature-lovers this New Year’s Eve. This restored UNESCO World Heritage site will open up to campers from all around the world, inviting people to set up their own tents for a night under the stars and fireworks. Food and bar pop-ups will also come to the island, alongside a host of free entertainment options – live bands, film screenings, and activities for children will run across the New Year’s weekend. Cockatoo Island is a great place to sprawl out beneath the stars and admire the sky without a single building in view.
Another great choice away from the city is the secluded harbour of Shark Island. Summertime is in full swing in December, and nowhere is this more evident than at Shark Island’s New Year’s Eve party. They’re bringing out all the stops to transform the island into a tropical paradise – if you’ve ever wanted to view big city fireworks while on a private island, Shark Island combines the best of both worlds with its gorgeous setting amidst the sand and sea and its great views of the Sydney Harbour.
Las Vegas is a city where everything appears bigger, brighter, and a lot more fanciful, and for their annual New Year’s blowout, expect no less from this incredible resort city. For New Year’s, the entirety of Vegas’ infamous Strip will be shut to traffic, transforming into a giant block party for hundreds of thousands of revellers, all in anticipation to the wild spectacle to come: at midnight, all of the casinos on the Strip will launch a choreographed fireworks display that can be heard all across the country.
Vegas wouldn’t be the behemoth party destination that it is without its multitude of upscale casinos, bars and clubs. Throw a stone and you’re likely to hit any one of Vegas’ legendary New Year’s parties at any one of their famed watering holes, but if you want the best view of the New Year’s fireworks to go with your buckets of Armand de Brignac, head up to the iconic Stratosphere Tower. The observation deck on the 108th floor offers up 360-degree views of the entire sprawl of Vegas, and for New Year’s, the lounge is offering an all-inclusive package for partygoers, including an open bar that offers speciality drinks and delicious tapas.
Live out your dreams of being an A-list celebrity at Drai’s Nightclub, an ultra-exclusive late-night party spot located atop The Cromwell Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. Private tables and cabanas offer up prime people-watching spots in the lead up to the big fireworks at midnight, and hip-hop connoisseurs will love the selection of live acts that Drai’s has scheduled for the night, including Grammy-nominated rapper Future.
Have your new year’s kiss in Vegas’ most romantic spot atop the Eiffel Tower observation deck. There, you’ll escape the frenzy of the Strip on the 46th floor of the magnificent structure, which offers an unblocked view of the bright lights and festivities going on throughout Vegas. Before the fireworks show at midnight, head down to the Eiffel Tower Restaurant, an upscale French establishment that boasts exquisite cuisine in Vegas’ most intimate haunt. ◼
© This article was first published online in Dec 2019 – World Travel Magazine.
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