5, 4, 3, 2... 10 Unique Places To Celebrate An Unforgettable New Year

5, 4, 3, 2... 10 Unique Places To Celebrate An Unforgettable New Year
Brenda
Brenda
Updated

All around the world, countries go by different calendars, having different holidays that vary with belief and history, among many other things. Yet, ever since the Gregorian calendar became a staple of measuring time, one holiday has gone undisputed – New Year’s.

Perhaps more than any other festival, New Year’s captures the spirit of humanity. Despite variations in culture and customs, people all over the world set their differences aside for this period of reflection, love, hope and celebration. It’s thus no wonder that it’s one of the year’s most anticipated holidays, and one that people go all-out to celebrate.

Whether it’s a quiet celebration or a loud, crazy party, there’s somewhere out there with just what you’re looking for. Travel around the globe with us as we take you through 10 unique places for an unforgettable start to 2017.

1. Happy New Year!: New York City, USA


No matter where you are, New Year’s Eve is near synonymous with New York City’s iconic custom: the ball drop. Started in 1907 with a ball of iron, wood and light bulbs, the ball drop has since transformed into the vibrant, LED-lit spectacle it is today, accompanied by pyrotechnics and showers of confetti. Every year, it brings in the new year with a million revelers on the streets of New York City and up to one billion people watching worldwide.

Join the revelers on the streets of this city as you watch the ball drop at midnight! To join in the celebration, arrive at Seventh Avenue between West 42nd Street and West 43rd Street by 2pm in the afternoon, as revelers will begin arriving around 3pm. Of course, while waiting for the clock to strike twelve, you can expect performances from some of your favourite stars. Though this year’s lineup has yet to be revealed, last year’s included Jessie J, Demi Lovato and Carrie Underwood among other superstars.

Times Square Ball Drop

Address: Times Square, Manhattan, NY 10036, USA

Price: Free

Times to note: Gates open – 3pm; Lighting of ball – 6pm; Countdown – just before 12am.

Contact: Times Square Alliance – (212) 768-1560

Website

2. Happy New Year!: The Bahamas


What better way to kick off the New Year than in paradise? No matter where you are in the Bahamas, Bahamian locals are bound to kick off 2017 in colour, music and fun!

On New Year’s Eve, head to one of many pubs, discos or nightclubs. The last day of the year is seen as one of the country’s greatest goodbye times, so expect Bahamians to know how to throw a party! On New Year’s Day, you might want to reconsider spending your day at the beach – multiple islands around the Bahamas hold a New Year’s parade known as Junkanoo. Complete with traditional music, elaborate costumes and handcrafted floats, Junkanoo is like a Bahamian take on Mardi Gras or the Brazilian Carnival.

Be a spectator at these parades around the country: along Bay Street in downtown Nassau (New Providence), downtown Freeport (Grand Bahama Island), Nicholls Town (North Andros), Plymouth (Green Turtle Cay), or Alice Town (North Bimini).

Junkanoo Parade

Areas: along Bay Street, Nassau, New Providence, The Bahamas; Freeport, Grand Bahama Island, The Bahamas; Nicholls Town, North Andros, The Bahamas; Plymouth, Green Turtle Cay, The Bahamas; Alice Town, North Bimini, The Bahamas

Price: Free

Times to note: Start – 2am to 3am; End – usually around 10am

3. Gleðilegt nýtt ár!: Reykjavik, Iceland

New Year's fireworks, Reykjavik
Source: Photo by user Martyn Smith used under CC BY 2.0

Count down to New Year’s with a celebration for the people, by the people! New Year’s Eve in Reykjavik is a wild, lively celebration where the whole country gets together to reunite with loved ones, reminisce the past year, and start the new year with a bang!

Kick off your evening with an Icelandic home-cooked dinner – unfortunately, unless you’re staying at a hotel, most restaurants open on New Year’s Eve might be fully booked by now.


Be sure to have an early dinner so you’ll have time to visit the many bonfires around the city, most of which are lit around 8:30pm. Around 10:30pm, most Icelanders head home to watch Áramótaskaupið, a satire on the events of the year. This satire is entirely in Icelandic and contains numerous local references.

The real party begins at 11:30pm, when the satire is over and the countdown begins. The fireworks you’ll see setting Reykjavik alight are no organised event; instead, they are the collective effort of the city’s citizens! A great vantage point for them is Öskjuhlíð, a hill in the heart of Reykjavik.

For your best experience of Reykjavik’s new year, it’s recommended you book an accommodation with a host family via Airbnb or HomeAway. Do note that the smoke-heavy festivities may not be ideal for asthma sufferers.

Bonfires

Areas: Areas for 2016 are currently unknown; but check the website for 2015’s bonfires.

Times to note: Bonfires are lit – 8:30pm; Áramótaskaupið – 10:30pm to 11:35pm

Website

Countdown & fireworks

Areas: Can be viewed from anywhere in Reykjavík; vantage points include Öskjuhlíð, a hill near the Perlan bus stop of Bústaðavegur, Reykjavík

Times to note: Áramótaskaupið – 10:30pm to 11:35pm; Countdown & fireworks – 11:30pm onwards

Website

4. Bliadhna Mhath Ùr!: Edinburgh, Scotland


If there’s anywhere that knows how to celebrate New Year’s, it’s got to be Edinburgh. Hogmanay, as it’s called there, is renowned for being one of the best New Year’s Eve celebrations worldwide. It lasts four days and once achieved the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest New Year Party!

The festivities this year kick off on 30th December with a torchlight procession in Edinburgh’s Old Town. Follow this river of fire preceding its stunning fireworks finale! On the last day of the year, celebrate by dancing the night away at Edinburgh Castle’s street party, or experiencing Scotland at the Old Town Ceilidh. At the stroke of midnight, join hands with everyone for the world’s biggest rendition of the holiday classic, Auld Lang Syne!


But that’s not all! On New Year’s Day, join in the kooky custom of the Loony Dook, where ‘Dookers’ clad in fancy dress plunge into the chilly waters of River Forth. Up until 8th January 2017, you can also enjoy the festivities of Edinburgh’s Christmas 2016.

Torchlight Procession

Address: Edinburgh Old Town, Edinburgh, UK

Date: 30 December 2016

Price: 12 GBP (15 USD) per torch; 3 GBP (3.7 USD) for additional wristbands to join the procession; free for spectators

Times to note: Torch pick-up – 2pm onwards at St. Giles Street; Start of procession – 7pm

Contact Website

Street Party

Address: along Princes Street, Edinburgh, UK

Date: 31 December 2016

Price: 25 GBP (31 USD) per ticket

Times to note: Entry – 7pm to 11pm; Countdown & fireworks – just before 12am

Contact Website

Old Town Ceilidh

Address: High Street & West Parliament Square, Edinburgh, UK

Date: 31 December 2016

Price: 47.50 (58 USD) per ticket

Times to note: Entry – 8pm to 11pm; Countdown & fireworks – just before 12am

Contact Website

Stoats Loony Dook

Address: off Gote Lane and B924, Edinburgh, UK

Date: 1 January 2017

Price: 10 GBP (12 USD) per ticket for participants; free for spectators

Times to note: Check in – 10:45am onwards; Dookers’ Parade – 12:45pm

Contact Website

5. Frohes Neues Jahr!: Berlin, Germany


If you’re a party animal, find your ideal getaway in Berlin, Germany! Berlin is known for being the party central of Europe, so you can trust them when it comes to ending 2016 with a bang.

The New Year’s Eve experience in Berlin is nothing short of a music festival – in the stretch between Victory Column and Brandenburg Gate, revelers can party the night away with live bands, light shows and DJ sets. The crowd begins to pour in at 2pm; and if you’d like to grab a bite during the festivities, there are street food stalls all over the area!

Following the countdown, the party doesn’t stop – at 12:30am on New Year’s Day, the full-blown party begins with no official closing time in sight!

New Year's Eve Party, Berlin

Address: along Straße des 17. Juni, between Brandenburg Gate and Victory Column, Berlin, Germany

Price: Free

Times to note: Gates open – 2pm; Entertainment begins – 7pm; Countdown – just before 12am; Party – 12:30am, no official closing time.

Website

6. !سنة جديدة سعيدة: Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE)

New Year in Dubai - Burj Al Arab برج العرب
Source: Photo by user Bengin Ahmad used under CC BY 2.0

If you’re planning to splurge on your New Year’s getaway, there’s no better place than Dubai. Expect this luxurious, ultramodern city to go all out in one of the biggest celebrations of the year.

At the stroke of midnight, fireworks will be set off from multiple locations, such as the Burj Khalifa, Palm Jumeirah and Burj al-Arab. Bring your camera for this spectacle – in 2014, the Burj Khalifa achieved a Guinness World Record for the world’s largest firework display!


If the thought of jostling with a crowd doesn’t appeal to you, well, this is Dubai! Engage in a luxury experience as you bring in the new year. With Desert Safari Dubai, you’re spoilt for choice in these experiences – spend the evening dining and counting down on board a romantic dhow cruise, or live the spirit of adventure by heading into the desert for a true Arabian night.

If you’re more of a party animal, head over to Meydan Racecourse, where you’ll get a panoramic view of the city skyline and dance the night away with EDM superstars Axwell /\ Ingrosso!

Burj Khalifa

Address: 1 Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Price: Free

Times to note: Countdown & fireworks – just before 12am

Website

Palm Jumeirah

Address: The Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Price: Free

Times to note: Countdown & fireworks – just before 12am

Website

Burj al-Arab

Address: Jumeirah Beach Road, Umm Suqeim, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Price: Free

Times to note: Countdown & fireworks – just before 12am

Website

Desert Safari Dubai

Address: Office No. 3206, Churchill Towers, Business Bay, Dubai U.A.E

Price: Varies from tour to tour. Check website for rates.

Times to note: Countdown & fireworks – just before 12am

Contact: +971 4 4586664

Website

Axwell Λ Ingrosso New Year's Concert

Address: Meydan, Al Meydan Road, Nad Al Sheba, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Price: General Admission – 163 USD; Deluxe Tickets – 258 USD

Times to note: Entry – 7pm to 3am; Countdown & fireworks – just before 12am

Website

7. 明けましておめでとうございます!: Tokyo, Japan

Known as Shōgatsu, New Year’s in Japan is a solemn, familial affair. You won’t be seeing any fireworks in this celebration! During this period, most Japanese businesses are closed as workers travel home to spend time with their families. Transport around Japan is usually congested between 29th December and 31st December, so it’s best to arrive early, or spend Christmas in Tokyo. On New Year’s Eve, participate in local customs by having soba noodles for lunch. Soba noodles are a symbol of fortune and longevity; and since they are easy to chew, helps us forget and overcome the year’s hardships.


Alternatively, you could herald in the new year by heading over to one of Tokyo’s many Shinto shrines or temples. Some shrines you could go to include Meiji Jingu, Atago Shrine, or Zojo-ji Temple, among other places. At Zojo-ji Temple, not only do you get to participate in New Year festivities, you’ll also get to see the light-up of Tokyo Tower at midnight.

New Year celebrations at Japanese shrines and temples include the ringing of a bell 108 times, an action Buddhists believe cleanses one of worldly desires. Charms such as omamori and ema from the old year are also burnt in bonfires. On January 2nd, join the lines at Tokyo Imperial Palace for the Emperor’s New Year Greeting. This is one of the only two times of the year (the other being 23rd December, the Emperor’s birthday) where the grounds of the Imperial Palace are open to the public. The Imperial Family will appear and speak before the public in a glass-protected balcony around the times of 10:10am, 11am, 11:50am, 1:30pm and 2:20pm. Until January 3rd, you can also participate in hatsumode, the first shrine visit of the year. One of the most popular activities then includes drawing an omikuji, a strip of paper with a prediction of this year’s fortune. An omikuji usually comes with a good luck charm; and if you get a prediction of bad luck, tie it to one of the temple trees for hope it will not come true.

Zōjō-ji Temple

Address: 4 Chome-4-7-35 Shibakōen, Minato-ku, Tōkyō-to 105-0011, Japan

Price: Free

Times to note: Burning of old year’s charms – 11pm; Ringing of bell & light-up of Tokyo Tower – 12am

Contact: +81 3-3432-1431

Website

Tokyo Imperial Palace

Address: 1-1 Chiyoda, Chiyoda-ku, Tōkyō-to 100-8111, Japan

Price: Free

Times to note: Entry – 9am to 2:10pm; Appearance of Imperial Family – 10:10am, 11am, 11:50am, 1:30pm, 2:20pm

Contact: +81 3-3213-1111

Website More info

8. 새해 복 많이 받으세요!: Seoul, South Korea

Though South Korea has participated in long-standing traditions and customs when it comes to celebrating New Year’s, its burgeoning entertainment industry brings a modern, internationally-known twist to year-end celebrations. In the final weeks of the year, K-pop fans from South Korea and around the world will get to enjoy the festivities, performances, features and appearances of South Korea’s several end-of-year music festivals!


Arrive in South Korea at least a week before New Year’s to enjoy the most of their music festivals. The first and most famous of these music festivals, SBS Gayo Daejun, will be held on 26th December. Expect this year’s lineup to include stars both old and new, such as Sechs Kies, Big Bang, EXO, BlackPink, BTS, Twice, Infinite, Red Velvet, GFriend and many more! Expect special collaborations between artistes, like the one shown above – this year, CL and G-Dragon, two of K-pop’s biggest rappers, will be collaborating for such a stage!

The second star-studded festival, KBS Song Festival (KBS Gayo Daechukje), will be held on 29th December. Just like last year (watch the video above!), this year brings a stellar lineup of your favourite idols, including AOA, BTS, EXO, GFriend, IOI, Infinite, Oh My Girl, Red Velvet, Twice and many more!

The last of these music festivals, MBC Gayo Daejejeon, will be held on 31st December. As one of the year’s biggest music festivals, it brings an equally awesome lineup as the prior two, with idol bands such as APink, B1A4, BTS, EXO, GFriend, Red Velvet, Twice and even the groundbreaking girl group S.E.S!

At the stroke of midnight, what better way to bring in the new year than counting down with your favourite celebrities?

Unfortunately, given the lack of information available online, your best bet at getting tickets for any of these three festivals might be to ask your guide or get in contact with one of K-pop’s numerous fanclubs.


For a more traditional New Year’s experience, you may choose to step onto the streets of Seoul, where you can witness the ringing of the Bosingak Bell Pavilion by the mayor of Seoul. This bell is rung 33 times at the start of each year, a tradition observed from as early as the Joseon dynasty in the 14th century AD. Be sure to arrive early, as this occasion is so popular, up to 100,000 people crowd the streets near Bosingak to celebrate. Afterward, it’s not time for bed yet! If you’re willing to bring in the new year like Seoul’s locals, stay up to watch the sunrise. Pack a picnic, drink lots of coffee, and grab a spot at one of Seoul’s twelve Han River parks for a scenic view of the sunrise against Seoul’s skyline.

Bosingak Bell-Ringing Ceremony

Address: Bosingak, 54 Jong-ro, Gwancheol-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Price: Free

Times to note: Countdown & bell-ringing – just before 12am; End of subway service – 2am

Website

9. 新年快樂!: Taipei, Taiwan

2014-new-year-taipei-101-fireworks
Source: Photo by user Sinchen.Lin used under CC BY 2.0

Taipei’s New Year fireworks are among the world’s most iconic, mostly for the fact that they are set off from Taipei 101. Watch the icon of the city come alight with multicolored fireworks at the stroke of midnight, accompanied by music from Taiwanese pop artistes A-Lin, Jess Lee and Nick Chou!

If you can’t secure a spot near Taipei 101, other great places to watch the fireworks include Xiangshan, Hushan, Xinyi No. 414 Park, and the intersection of Xinyi Road Section 4, Tonghua Street and Jilong Road. Tonghua Night Market is near this intersection, so you can grab one of Taiwan’s famous street bites as you watch the fireworks.

Be sure to book a room at a hot spring resort, and start 2017 with a soothing soak.

Taipei 101 New Year's Countdown

Address: around Taipei 101, No. 7, Section 5, Xinyi Rd, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110

Price: Free to watch

Times to note: Countdown & fireworks – 12am

Website

10. Happy New Year!: New Zealand


If you’re looking to get a good start on the start of the new year, New Zealand is the place to go. As one of the first countries to celebrate New Year’s, New Zealand has always known how to kick off the new year with a bang – and this year will be no different.

All around New Zealand, you’ll find a variety of music festivals you can attend as you count down to 2017, the biggest of them being Rhythm & Vines. Watch the above video for their countdown last year – not only will you get to bring in the new year with dazzling fireworks and talented international artistes (Chance the Rapper and Kimbra will be performing this year!), you’ll get to do it partying the night away!

Rhythm & Vines will be held over three days in Gisborne, but if you’re interested in visiting other places, a free festival, GLO Festival, will be held in Rotorua, while family-friendly festivities can be found at Wondergarden in Auckland, Hagley Park in Christchurch and Frank Kitts Park in Wellington.

Rhythm & Vines

Address: Waiohika Estate, 75 Waimata Valley Rd, Riverdale, Hexton 4071, New Zealand

Price: Single day passes vary between 106 NZD to 205 NZD (75 USD to 144 USD), depending on selected day

Date: 29 December 2016 to 31 December 2016

Times to note: Entry on 29 & 30 December – 2pm to 12am; entry on 31 December – 2pm to 6am

Website

GLO Festival

Address: Lakefront Drive, Ohinemutu, Rotorua 3010, New Zealand

Price: Free

Date: 31 December 2016

Times to note: Start – 6pm; Fireworks – 9:15pm & 12am

Website

Wondergarden

Address: Silo Park, Beaumont Street and Jellicoe Street, Auckland 1010, New Zealand

Price: Adult – 92.90 NZD (65 USD); Child (12 & under) – 45.90 NZD (32 USD); Infant – Free (ticket required due to venue capacity)

Date: 31 December 2016

Times to note: Entry – 2pm to 12:30am; Countdown & fireworks – 12am

Website

New Year's Eve in Christchurch

Address: Hagley Park North, 14 Riccarton Avenue, Christchurch Central, Christchurch 8011, New Zealand

Price: Free

Date: 31 December 2016

Times to note: Kids’ Countdown – 8:30pm; Party – 9pm; Countdown & fireworks – 12am

Website

New Year's Eve in Wellington

Address: Whairepo Lagoon, Frank Kitts Park, Wellington Waterfront, Wellington, New Zealand

Price: Free

Date: 31 December 2016

Times to note: Kids’ Countdown – 9pm; Countdown & fireworks – 12am

Website

Travel to 2017

Whether it’s the quiet reverence of Japan or the boisterous parades of the Bahamas, we hope you’ve found your best New Year’s destination with this list. Now hurry up – time’s ticking and New Year’s is just a few days away! Even if you couldn’t catch certain events this year, rest assured most of them are long-enduring traditions – just keep your calendars marked a month or two in advance next year! Enjoy yourself, and most importantly, have a happy new year.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

Get Trip101 in your inbox

Unsubscribe in one click. See our privacy policy for more information on how we use your data

Still Need Travel Insurance?

You can buy and claim online, even after you've left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from 140 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.

*5% off when you book with our promo code: TRIP101

*For our Canadian and US travellers, unfortunately due to financial services laws, we cannot provide a discount. This promotional code cannot be used with any other discount offer, including World Nomads Members’ discount for travel insurance policy holders.

Brenda is a vibrant individual passionate about (way too) many things. An explorer, artist and optimist at heart, she is in love with the world and the beauty it has to offer. Her travels thus far...Read more

 Want to contribute as a Local Expert?
Good things are meant to be shared!