The 14 best New Year’s destinations to celebrate around the world
From Times Square to Copacabana Beach, here's where to kick off the New Year with a bang.
Feel like you've exhausted your quota of New Year's Eve celebrations in your home city? Seen it all before and want a new perspective going into the new year? We hear you.
That's why we've collated this list of the most exciting New Year's Eve party destinations around the world for you to ring in the new year.
Our top destinations to celebrate New Year's Eve
Our top New Year's Eve Experience: New York City from Contiki
Ring in the New Year in New York City with a 3-day tour package from Contiki that'll have you celebrating in a private bar complete with champagne at midnight.
- Includes three nights' accommodation in New York
- Visit the Statue of Liberty, explore colourful neighbourhoods like Soho and Greenwich Village and party on New Year's Eve
- Two dinners and two breakfasts included in the package
Image: Sydney New Years Eve
Broadcast around the world as one of the first places to ring in the new year, Sydney sets the bar high for New Year’s Eve parties with around $7 million worth of fireworks exploding off barges and the Harbour Bridge yearly.
Not only is it one of the first cities in the world to celebrate New Year’s Eve, it’s also one of the largest. Last year, over one million lined the harbour foreshore for a view of the sparklers. Many people camp out the night before to ensure they get their place, and harbour cruises sell out months in advance.
The event has become so big that there's now an app which shows you how full each vantage point is.
4-Day Sydney New Year's Package
New Years Eve Opera Show at the Opera House
Image: Times Square
2. New York City
What better place to ring in the new year than in the city that doesn’t sleep? Surrounded by the bright lights of Broadway, the biggest names in music and entertainment and over one million people, Times Square in New York City is the place to be on New Year’s Eve.
The special guest performers have yet to be revealed but stay tuned to wind up the crowd before the ball drops at midnight.
That famous "ball" is made from 2,699 Waterford crystals and weighs in at about 5,400kg.
4-Day New Year's Package
New Year’s Eve celebration at New York City Times Square
For a splash of fireworks behind some of England’s most notable buildings, London is the place to be. More than half a million people attend the eight-minute fireworks display along the Thames each year.
That's a lot of people along one riverbank and because of the growing popularity of this vantage point, the city has now made its New Year's Eve fireworks a ticketed event.
On the positive, tickets will only set you back £10 each and guarantees you prime position on the riverbank. While some areas have sold out, others are still available to book a space in. See here for details.
Explore London's Attractions
New Year's Eve Dinner and Cruise
4. Rio de Janeiro
In true Brazilian fashion, New Year’s Eve in Rio de Janeiro is one big party on the beach.
Crowds dress in white to bring good luck to the new year and flock to Copacabana Beach for a massive waterfront party celebrating reveillon (New Year’s Eve).
The mid-summer festivities along the four kilometre stretch of sand are filled with samba music, sprays of champagne and a massive 20-minute fireworks display enjoyed by two-million revellers on the beach and on cruise ships.
Rio New Years Package
Awash with culture and dressed in architectural wonders, the capital of Austria is beautiful to visit whatever time of year.
For New Year's Eve, the Old City transforms into a street party complete with gala events, dancing and, in true Viennese fashion, operas and operettas.
The entertainment runs from 2pm to 2am with the highlight being the fireworks at the City Hall Square as well as the Prater at the stroke of midnight.
Not only does the city know how to party by night, it also knows how to recover by day, featuring a brunch and performance by the Vienna Philharmonic on New Year's Day. This is displayed on a big screen in front of City Hall at the bleary-eyed time of 11.15am on 1 January.
New Year's Eve Gala in Vienna City Hall's Grand Ballroom
Kiribati is a tiny nation that consists of 33 atolls and islands. It's scattered across 3.5 million square kilometres of the South Pacific and is home to less than 100,000 people. Just west of the International Date Line, the Line Islands and Kiritimati are the first places in the world to celebrate the new year.
It’s not an easy place to get to, so don’t arrive expecting big-city parties. You’ll be spending the first day of the new year surrounded by sandy beaches, blue lagoons and swaying palms.
If you'd like somewhere a bit more on the beaten path, Samoa switched to the same time zone as Kiribati in 2011.
South Pacific Guide Book
Packages to Kiribati
Find a Flight
Image: Edinburgh Hogmanay
Hogmanay is the name of Edinburgh's massive New Year's Eve celebration. It in, the Scottish capital hosts a three-day bender of traditional events and live entertainment.
On the bill is a torchlight procession where over 40,000 revellers carry torches through the Old Town creating a river of light toward a fireworks finale. That's just on the 30th.
Come 31 December there will be candlelight concerts, a traditional ceilidh of dancing and music and that midnight moment when the clock ticks over and the fireworks crack the night sky.
New Year's Eve dinner
6 Night Hogmanay Package with Scotland Tour
UK & Ireland Christmas and New Year tour
Image: Lonely Planet
8. American Samoa
Had a good year and want to savour every last moment? Then American Samoa is the place to do just that.
Not to be confused with Samoa, which is 80km away on the other side of the International Date Line, American Samoa is one of the last places to celebrate the new year, 23 hours after Samoa.
American Samoa has roughly half the population of Kiribati, and only about 3,500 people living in its capital Pago Pago. It’s not somewhere you come expecting a huge party and epic fireworks displays. Instead, start the new year on a peaceful, lush and tropical island.
American Samoa Guidebook
Hotels in Pago Pago
Flights to American Samoa
There are no official celebrations or fireworks displays for the new year in Reykjavik, but the locals don't care. On the eve of the new year, hundreds of thousands of revellers create their own explosion and light up over 500 tonnes of fireworks.
Don't expect to saunter out at a minute to midnight to catch them, either. Icelanders aren't too fussed about time and light up the night sky from around 9pm onward - so get out early to check them out. The best bit? You won't have to push through throngs of crowds to nab the best seat in the house.
Reykjavik Bonfire and Fireworks Display
New Year's and Northern Lights Adventure
Bangkok presents a more local celebration for those who wish to ring in the new year outside of Australia but don't wish to venture far or overspend during the holidays.
Each district offers a different atmosphere of live entertainment and street parties. The biggest is undeniably at Bangkok Central Square where musicians play all night alongside light shows, a beer garden and projection screens to help you keep and eye on the countdown.
New Year's Special Thailand
Fantastic Holidays in Thailand
11. Las Vegas
If you thought Vegas already had an anything-goes vibe, wait until New Year’s Eve.
The Strip is closed to traffic, hundreds of thousands of people party in the streets and fireworks make the sky shimmer from just about every angle. About half a dozen hotels host the shows that see about 80,000 fireworks light up the sky.
If partying in a club on New Year’s Eve is more your thing, Vegas has plenty of options. Most hotels along The Strip have venues that pump all night long, including Planet Hollywood, Caesars Palace and the Palms.
Seeing the fireworks from the harbour is one thing, seeing them on the open ocean is another.
A number of cruise ships set sail for New Caledonia and Vanuatu over Christmas and New Year's enabling you to celebrate in style on the ocean bound for exotic lands.
While the islands themselves may not boast the largest celebrations, cruise ships aren't beyond throwing a celebration of their own with music, dancing, a countdown and drinks packages.
Tokyo isn't on this list because of its millions of residents, huge party scene and a knack for late nights.
The Japanese do New Year’s Eve a little bit different. Locals partake in hatsumode, which is the first visit of the new year to shrines and temples. Temple bells ring and food stalls are set up at the city’s most popular shrines, including Meiji Shrine and Sensoji Temple.
If it’s bright lights and the big city that you’re after, head to the Shibuya crossing for the midnight countdown or find a spot along Tokyo Bay for the annual fireworks display.
Contrary to its namesake, the city of lights isn’t known for its fireworks displays, although you will find those too.
In fact, up until a few years ago, it didn’t have any official New Year’s Eve events, but that didn't stop Paris from being a popular tourist spot.
The Champs Elysées is a magnet for crowds searching to celebrate on the famous Parisian street near the Arc de Triumph.
If you’re looking for more glitz, the Eiffel Tower dazzles in lights at the stroke of midnight. This can be seen close or from vantage points around the city.
Top New Year's Eve travel deals
Ask an Expert