Think fireworks. Think excessive rounds of drinks. Think dancing into the early hours and making best friends you’ll likely never see again. Think mumbling along to Auld Lang Syne and making a mental note to learn the words before next year – something you’ll never, ever manage. Welcome to New Year’s Eve, the most exciting, promising, but often disappointing night of the year.
So, if this year you’ll be ringing in 2018 in the same old sorry selection of bars and pubs you always do, why not start the New Year right, jet-set a little and globe-trot to a far-flung destination worthy of celebration? We’ve rounded up 5 of the best, most interesting and memorable places where you should count down to 12 this December 31st…
Rio de Janeiro
It’s about as far from the chilly British streets as you can imagine – but wouldn’t you rather spend New Year’s Eve strolling the beach in flip-flops than jogging down the freezing dark city streets to find a taxi this year? We can’t extol the virtues of a Rio de Janeiro New Year enough. Home to the iconic Copacabana Beach, this is not only the world’s biggest party, but also the wildest.
More than two million people cram onto the 2-mile stretch of sand for a night you’ll never forget – if you don’t drink too much, that is. Known locally as Réveillon, this is a celebration that blends tradition, religion and superstitious beliefs. Dress head-to-toe in white, and join the dancers, musicians and those who throw flowers into the ocean for good luck – all under a canopy of blazing fireworks.
Rio De Janeiro
It may be a far cry from the soft, sandy beaches of South America, but there’s also fun to be had a little closer to home. The Scottish capital is a worthy city to visit at any time of the year, but New Year tops every other night. Known as Hogmanay, the annual festivities in Edinburgh last not one, but three days, and kick off with a torchlight procession through the city.
Add the usual fireworks, a massive street party, open-air Kelidh and huge singing parties – and you’ve got all the recipes for a brilliant New Year’s Eve. And, if you’re not too hungover the morning after, Holyrood Park sees competitive dog sledding on Jan 1st, or you could brave the icy waters of the River Forth by jumping in with the hordes that start the New Year with a splash.
Forget Mardi Gras, New Year is the time to visit New Orleans. You haven’t lived until you’ve witnessed the incredible 15-minute firework display along the Mississippi River – one of the best in the world – when the Fleur de Lis drops and sees revellers into the next 12 months with a bang and spectacle.
After that, the festivities are as raucous and fantastic as you’d expect: with Bourbon Street and the Latin Quarter almost quaking with the levels of dancing and music going on. Bars and nightclubs stay open forever – and you’ll never want your unforgettable night to end.
As in Edinburgh, New Years celebrations span not one, but three days in Cape Town. One of South Africa’s three capitals, the 31st December sees the Victoria & Albert waterfront hold a concert and midnight fireworks display. And, whilst it is quite the spectacle close up, the wiser revellers uproot to Table Mountain with picnics and many bottles of the good stuff to watch from afar.
The Victoria Falls New Year’s Carnival is another reason to visit, with live music and a carnival-themed train. And the first day of the New Year sees thousands flock to local beaches, where the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival parades through downtown and 10,000 performers dance and sing in the streets.
A left-field suggestion? Perhaps, but many of the most unforgettable nights begin with the odd raised eyebrow. The Icelandic capital is sure to furrow a couple of brows, but trust us – this it-destination is in the spotlight for a reason. Throw all your New Year’s preconceptions out of the window, and kick of New Year’s Scandi style with communal bonfires and lots of mulled wine.
Fireworks do make an appearance, but the real surprise is just how good Iceland’s bars and clubs are – if a little on the expensive side. After 5am, the party begins to wind down – with the traditional annual New Year’s hangover cure of hot dogs and a trip to the hot springs. Sounds good to us.