New Year’s Eve is probably the biggest night on the international party circuit, and people the world over celebrate appropriately. Whether celebrating what has passed or looking forward to what will come – or just enjoying the atmosphere – the crowds are bigger, the music louder, and smiles wider. From a two-million strong beach party to an Arctic adventure, counting down in the Caribbean and exploring Indian culture, we’ve picked out some of the most exciting ways to see in the New Year, enough to keep you energised for the following twelve months…
So have a browse through our top ten picks for a vibrant New Year’s Eve, or if you’re looking for something a bit more chilled, check out our top ten places to go for the ultimate New Year’s Eve celebration away from the crowds here.
BOHO BUZZ IN BRAZIL
If you’re looking to bring in the New Year with a bang, Brazil is a good place to look, as New Year’s Eve on Copacabana Beach is up there with the biggest and the best. Two million – yes, two million – revellers pack the 4-mile beach, where several stages are set up for live music performances, playing everything from rock to reggae from 8pm. At midnight, a phenomenal fireworks display illuminates the infamous strip of beach where this vibrant and vivacious city meets the sea – and then the celebrations really begin, and continue earnestly into the small hours.
Less than a two-hour flight up the coast lies the beautiful little Bahian beach town of Trancoso, all boho buzz and seriously artistic aesthetic where colourful cottages and coconut palms line the streets. Originally settled by the Portuguese in the 16th century, the 1970s saw a new breed of explorer come to town: hippies, who revived and developed the isolated coastal village into the trendy Trancoso we know and love today. The rich and famous rub shoulders with locals and tourists alike; there’s no standing on ceremony here. It’s the perfect remedy for the inevitable Rio hangover …
Revel in Rio before going boho in Trancoso: check out this itinerary here.
NORTHERN LIGHTS, NATURE’S FIREWORKS
If you’d like a touch of Arctic adrenaline to carry you into the New Year, Iceland is perfect for an intrepid yet indulgent adventure. Reykjavik is renowned for its nightlife, and at New Year is particularly famous for its fireworks; local restrictions are relaxed, giving 200,000 locals free reign to set off 500 tons of pyrotechnics, illuminating the skies above the city from 11:30pm until after midnight in a stunning and remarkably coordinated display. Earlier in the evening, ten bonfires (‘brennas’) are lit around the city in a tradition dating back to the Middle Ages. Once New Year strikes, the fireworks are at their fiercest, and it feels like the entire population starts to party, as the crowds flock to the bars and clubs which stay open well into the morning.
Whether to recharge ahead of the festivities, or to recover after them, head out of Reykjavik to explore the icy interior and rugged coastline. Heading to the quiet countryside also gives you the best chance to catch a glimpse of the alternative fireworks display; the vast, dark open skies are the best place to see the dazzling Northern Lights, a stunning natural light show to rival any Roman candles.
This Icelandic itinerary puts you up in our favourite Reykjavik retreat, gets you up close with glaciers, and finishes off in the world-famous Blue Lagoon, perfect for some after-party pampering. Read more here.
GOURMET GALLIVANTING IN THE CAPE
If you’re enjoying a glass of wine (or three) at New Year, it should be something special to mark the occasion, and South Africa’s world-class wineries boast some very special wines indeed. Having just scooped the global title of Best Food City, Cape Town is proudly the new culinary capital of the world, so you can be sure of perfectly pairing your glass to your plate. The foodie scene is gathering serious momentum here, from Michelin stars to food-to-table movements, and plenty of foreign flavours are stirred into the pot. Increasingly, fiercely proud local chefs are taking inspiration from centuries of Asian and European influence and adding their own African authenticity. From Test kitchens to tapas restaurants, the variety and vision of Cape Town’s culinary scene is unsurpassed. If you fancy something stronger than a regional rosé, head to one of the trendy gin bars to try a spin on the popular spirit; it’s infused with a plant that is unique to the local area.
The lush green mountains valleys of the Western Cape are home to over 300 vineyards, bristling with history and heritage and growing everything from celebrated Sauvignons to the popular Pinotage red. The winelands look particularly wonderful at this time of year, as the southern hemisphere summer starts in December; hot afternoons, clear skies, cool nights, and very little rain mark the Mediterranean-like climate.
This itinerary starts off in the city at one of the most celebrated restaurants on the waterfront before heading inland to one of the finest farmhouses in all of the winelands: read more here.
CULTURAL RICHES IN RAJASTHAN
Resolving to bring more culture into your life next year? Rajasthan has the answer – several answers, really, as India’s largest state is home to an amazing array of historic highlights, ancient architecture, traditional temples, and a very warm welcome.
The adventure begins in manic Mumbai, a melting-pot megalopolis, the home of Bollywood and the gateway to India. Next, to the Golden City, Jaisalmer, so-called because of the distinctive yellow sandstone architecture featuring everywhere from the handsome havelis (townhouses) to the centrepiece Jaisalmer Fort. For the ultimate Lawrence of Arabia experience, trekking across the Sam Sand dunes and taking in the views from camelback can’t be beaten.
Next, a change of city and change of colour, from golden Jaisalmer to the Blue City of Jodhpur, so-called because of the blue wash which decorates many of the houses in the old city centre. Jodhpur also boasts a spectacular hill fort of its own, the majestic Mehrangarh. Udaipur’s architecture is exquisite, the atmosphere exotic; fairy-tale palaces surround the idyllic lake against a backdrop of lush green hills, and the winding ancient streets are filled with colour and movement.
Interested in India? Read more here.
GLAMPING & URBAN CHIC IN SYDNEY
New Year’s Eve in Sydney needs no introduction; over a million people gather in and around the harbour to watch the fireworks, while over a billion people gather round their televisions to watch it at home. Small wonder: it’s simply one of the greatest pyrotechnic performances anywhere, any time, a staggering spectacle which includes parades and performances.
For the best view, pick out a room at the Park Hyatt in the heart of the harbour, practically within touching distance of the Opera House. After soaking up the atmosphere in the city, make for the mountains; the Blue Mountains are the dramatic dividing barrier to the west, a stunning landscape of deep river valleys, canyons and sheer cliff faces.
Next, it’s from the highlands to the winelands as you hop north to Hunter Valley, Australia’s oldest wine region, particularly celebrated for its Sémillon and Shiraz. The region’s reputation for fine wine has also attracted a dedicated foodie following, and some of the country’s best gourmet grub is available from the myriad fine dining restaurants, decadent delis, and food festivals.
Sold on Sydney? Read more here.
CELEBRATE CARIBBEAN STYLE IN BARBADOS
Bring some Bajan buzz with you into the New Year by experiencing the colourful Caribbean nightlife in Barbados. Thanks to its history as a British colony, it is known as the ‘Little England’ of the Caribbean; the official language is English, little stone churches and quaint gardens dot the countrysides, and they even drive on the left. Thankfully, Barbados boasts much better weather than its ‘bigger brother’, especially at this time of year; it’s a postcard-perfect tropical paradise, with sugar-white beaches, warm blue waters, and lush green palm trees. The unmistakeable West Indian calypso culture is in full swing, creating a colourful cultural fusion that is irresistibly endearing.
For rum and revelry, head to the south coast, the nightlife epicentre of the island. St. Lawrence Gap features plenty of trendy bars and restaurants; think rum cocktails, reggae and blues. New Year’s Eve is a big night in Barbados; locals usually gather with their families earlier in the evening, before heading to the beach to mingle and watch fireworks, before picking a party to dance the night away. If you can make it until the morning and have the energy left in you, find your way to the east coast to watch the sun rise on New Year’s Day. We can think of worse places to recover after a few of those rums …
Barbados is brilliant for that New Year’s buzz – take a look at some of our favourite hotels here.
RING IN THE NEW YEAR IN A LUXURY RIAD IN MARRAKECH
Marrakech is a melting-pot of customs and cultures, treasures and traditions; very few places in the world echo with such exoticism as the ‘Red City’, so-named for the red sandstone walls that surround it. It is home to the largest traditional marketplace in Morocco, with 18 souks selling wares old and new. Take a Moroccan cooking class to make your own tantalising tagine, or visit the myriad food stalls for a taste of Marrakech – pigeon pie anyone?
Whether winding through the narrow streets, bartering for a bargain in the souks, or simply gazing over your balcony at the sandstone skyline, you won’t fail to soak up the atmosphere, but for the real buzz, the world-famous Jemaa el-Fna market, the focal point of the city’s activity, is unmissable. In the massive, lantern-lit square you’ll find snake-charmers, fire-breathers, magicians and musicians, herb sellers and story tellers – and the usual fireworks at midnight.
Feeling inspired? Check out the best of Marrakech with this itinerary here.
A TASTE OF SPAIN
If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to try new things, food should definitely be near the top of the list; thanks to its tapas tradition – small plates, big variety – and the fact that it has more bars per capita than any other country in the EU, Spain is an ideal destination for first-time foodies and gourmet gurus alike. Spain boasts three fine-dining restaurants ranked inside the world’s top ten (no other country has more than one) as well as a serious love of street food and hearty home-style cooking; whether in a Madrid café or a Michelin-star restaurant, you are sure to find something to your taste.
Madrid is quite literally a melting-pot where you’ll find influences and inspirations from every corner of Spain, and the local specialities – homely stews made from organ meats, seasonal vegetables and seafood – have historical and cultural significance. Seville is renowned as the home of tapas, particularly prominent for its melt-in-mouth pork varieties, especially the pata negra, one of the most well-known Spanish gourmet foods. It’s the perfect place to try a variety of Andalusian specialities; you won’t find better gazpacho anywhere in the world, desserts and drinks feature the famous Seville orange, and Spain’s ‘sherry triangle’ is just west of the city, so you’ll have something to wash it all down with. Catalan cuisine is best in Barcelona; its position between the hills of Catalonia and the Mediterranean coast have created the concept of ‘sea and mountain’, or fish and meat on the same plate. Crema Cataluna, a cousin to the crème brulée, is one of our favourite desserts.
Is your mouth watering yet? This culinary and cultural adventure to Spain takes in Madrid, Seville, Granada and Barcelona for a phenomenal foodie journey – read on here.
A CHIC CITY BREAK IN BUENOS AIRES
Buenos Aires is beautiful and beguiling, eclectic and exciting, and one of our favourite places in all of South America. Argentina’s cosmopolitan capital has a handsome European heritage that goes hand-in-hand with its proud local character, creating a fascinating mix of old elegance and modern extravagance: think parades of loud soccer fans marching past dainty white French-style cafes and glamourous restaurants. From chic cocktail bars and sleek restaurants to fast and furious tango shows – a particularly popular option at New Year – the locals love to party. They also love showing tourists how to tango, so don’t be afraid to hit the dancefloor … and, if you need a little Dutch courage, Argentina grows some of the finest wines in the world.
Palermo is the place to be for New Year; the city’s most well-known nightlife district is home to legendary boliches (clubs) where you can dance the night away with a diverse crowd. There’s an amazing array of 24-hour bars, hip hangouts and massive dance clubs, and a great variety of entertainment, styles, and crowds. Rooftop parties are also a popular option, if you can find your way up to one to see in the New Year with a view, or join the classy crowds (posh Porteños and the expat elite) at one of the high-end hotels for dinner and dancing. If you’re travelling with little ones, head to Puerto Maduro and enjoy an amazing fireworks display. Whatever your style, you’re sure to find it in this stylish city.
This itinerary brings out the best of Buenos Aires before some recovery time in the remote northwest – check it out here.
ULTIMATE PARTY VIBES IN MIAMI
The biggest night of the year deserves a big party, and Miami is simply one of the best places in world to throw it. It’s good-looking, it’s glamourous, it’s a hedonist’s haven. Think massive mega-clubs, hip-hop hangouts, dim-lit dance halls, world-famous DJs playing an incredible diversity of music, all against a dazzling art deco backdrop, white-washed buildings, beautiful beaches and beautiful people. It’s a heady blend of East and West coast culture with a healthy amount of Hispanic thrown in (almost two-thirds of the population identify as such, the majority of them Cuban), creating a seriously funky fusion of style and substance.
South Beach, all neon nightclubs and sizzling Spanish flair, is the place to be seen after the sun sets; Ocean Drive comes alive at night as crowds spill from the trendy terraces into the streets along the promenade, bars blare out music, and the nocturnal crowds come out to play. Glitz and glitterati reign; this is a serious celebrity haunt where A-listers are spotted regularly among the VIP tables. For a Latin flavour, head to Little Havana, where Spanish is more widely spoken than English and salsa is played loudest. Few places on the planet can boast of such a buzz as Miami, not least on the biggest night of the year. It’s colourful and creative, exciting and exotic, and we love it. And we think you will too.
We’ve put together a seriously stylish schedule – read more here.