We’ve all heard and perhaps grown tired of the old adage “New Year, New You”. Good idea in theory, but in practice the pressure of New Year’s Eve, with its sparkles, champagne, and inevitable resolutions, tends to overwhelm and disappoint. So, why not try “New Year, New City” instead? Rather than stick around for the same parties and people from years past, we recommend the energy of a foreign city to kick-start this year with unforgettable memories and international inspiration. Whether you gravitate towards a classic jaunt or crave a more exotic adventure, here are six cities renowned for their New Year’s soirées. You’ll find a fresh perspective might just usher in your best year yet.
One of the most understated and underrated cities in North America, Quebec’s quintessential balance of beautiful, historic architecture and unique, urban culture never ceases to captivate and entertain. Dotted with cozy restaurants and heated terraces, La Grande Allée transforms into a bustling, outdoor fête de fin d’année. Start your day sipping mulled wine and sampling wares in Old Quebec before you begin working your way down the glittering avenue. Be sure to have a seat and a glass in hand for the midnight fireworks. If you’re lucky, you’ll wind up atop the Ferris Wheel in time for the big show.
New Year’s Eve will never be the same after a taste of Edinburgh’s world-renowned Hogmanay celebration. Hogmanay, the Scottish word for the final day of the year, offers an endless array of events to customize your experience, day and night. The Hogmanay celebrations commence with the unequivocal Torchlight Procession on December 30th. Thousands of lights winding through the streets of Edinburgh sets a magical tone for a truly magical 48-hours. Come December 31st, dance your way into the New Year at a traditional Scottish Ceilidh, or opt for a more modern approach with any number of the live concerts both in venues and on the street. Feeling a bit more pensive? Take in the mystifying, candlelit concert inside historic St. Giles cathedral. Be sure to get your tickets before you arrive, as events sell out. Then, kick back and enjoy one of the world’s most raucous traditions.
Berliners have a simple recipe for all-night New Year’s Eve fun: music and dancing. The music scene comes alive in full force.You’ll hear the thump of transcendent rhythm and melody woven through every iconic venue in the city. We suggest starting at Spreepalais Alexanderplatz to take in a view of the river while warming up with some champagne and ending your night at the Brandenburg Gate where Berlin’s largest celebration and fireworks display takes place. Also a daytime event not to be missed, the annual pancake race, Berliner Silversterlauf, pits local against local to see who can flip their way through the city first.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
For a truly non-traditional New Year’s celebration, leave your formal wear at home and join the millions of party-goers on Copacabana beach in Rio. Spectacular fireworks? Check. Champagne? Of course. Warm sea breeze? Absolutely. It’s the heart of summer during the celebration, so people are relaxed and swimming is definitely fair game. Don’t forget to pack an all white outfit! Wearing the color on NYE supposedly brings you year-round luck. If you want the experience without diving into the crowd, the Copacabana Palace provides the view along with an elegant evening slightly removed from the action, or you might opt for one of the smaller beach parties at Ipanema, Barra, or Flamengo.
Certain sights can change your life, and the Lantern Festival at Chiang Mai is top among those awe-inspiring views. Chiang Mai is a city with a small-town vibe, and offers an easy escape from the rowdy streets of Bangkok on this especially rowdy night. Locals and tourists alike gather to release thousands of paper lanterns in the dark, night sky. In our opinion, it’s an astonishing alternative to traditional fireworks. If you’re still craving a party and some explosives, Surin Beach comes alive with beach barbecues, live music, and private galas, though also removed from Bangkok’s central club scene. Looking to be in the thick of it? Head to Asiatique. The city’s bustling public market comes alive with boutiques, eateries, bars, and live performances from music to Thai puppetry and Calypso Ladyboy cabaret (a real showstopper). It’s right on the Chao Phraya river, and touts one of the best views for the countdown and subsequent fireworks.
Travel to Vienna and take a trip back to a time of classical music and grand balls. While a New Year’s trip to Vienna takes a bit of advanced planning, it’s well worth the expense and the foresight. Once you’ve arranged your tickets, pick out your dresses and coat tails and get to work brushing up on your Viennese Waltz skills. Then, you’re ready to take off into an evening of old-school European decadence, 19th-century to be exact. The Hofburg Silvesterball at the Imperial Palace is the eminent place to sip and saunter your way through the night, with the cities largest fireworks taking place nearby at Heldenplatz. However, the pièce de résistance is the Vienna Philharmonic New Year’s Day Concert. Since tickets are in such high demand, you must apply to the ticket lottery between January 2nd and February 28th a year prior. However, the concert is broadcast live for those of you who prefer to stay cozied up in your hotel room after dancing the night away.
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