For a quick overview of the best places to go on holiday for new year, look no further than the text below. We’ve compiled several lists with destinations and their respective why, when and how.
BEST PLACES TO SPEND NEW YEARS IN THE US
Generally speaking, New Year’s Eve celebration should be planned out well in advance. Not only to avoid the stress that comes with nosey inquisitors asking “where you will celebrate NYE?!”, but a well laid-out battle plan really helps to avoid last-minute taxi rides, getting stuck in traffic and chasing from one venue to the next. Keep that in mind when picking one of the destinations below:
1. San Francisco is lit
Famous for its fireworks that are arguably the best in the entire nation, San Francisco is an easy draw. Any seat south of the Ferry building is ideal, but for the more adventurous amongst us, a drive towards Treasure Island reveals a different view, with rockets going off over the city. Since this spot is a little secluded, do not expect to find the best new years eve parties in the world, but prepare for a great view and an intimate experience with the few other visitors who made it out to the island as well.
The firework cruise is booked out months in advance because of its combination of drinks, dinner and some reckless dancing on a boat. So if that sounds like your idea of fun, check whether there are any tickets available still.
2. Las Vegas is not
The usual madness of Sin city is amped up to eleven around NYE in Las Vegas, so if you are on the lookout for a bunch of crazy, packed nightlife venues and you and your friends are hellbent on re-enacting The Hangover NYE-style, you can’t go wrong with Las Vegas. It won’t be cheap, but then again, that Christmas bonus has to be used on something, am I right?
3. Nashville doesn’t break the bank
If you tend to think of December 31st as an unnecessary break with your routine that tends to break the bank, then Nashville might be for you. Home of the Honky-tonk and bluegrass, you are bound to hear some very peculiar renditions of the usual Christmas songs if you’ve stuck around long enough, and your bank account will thank you for it. The NYE festivities at the Bicentennial Capital Mall should be good, and there really is no reason to miss it.
Think of a nice firework display, copious amounts of confetti, and some great performances for free.
4. Atlanta is even more value for your money
With an equal amount of free festivities in Atlanta as in Nashville, but considerably lower pricing, Atlanta is interesting for people living in the area and who are budget conscious. There are plenty of spaces downtown to watch the fireworks display, and without a high-strung nightlife scene, NYE is less of a hyped experience than you would find in the bigger cities.
5. Honolulu is romantic
For couples looking to “get away from it all”, Hawaii and Honolulu are ideal. No dilemmas on which friends you should party with, because nobody is going to follow you here. And meanwhile, you get to enjoy the luau ceremonies. Whether you choose to stay in a resort of opt for a cruise is up to you, although we do prefer the liberty of being able to go where we like. This is one of the biggest downsides of a cruise – the entire experience is a guide one, and a shared experience at that. For the individual minded, air BnB will probably work a lot better on Hawaii. Even though these are pacific islands, technically, they are still one of best places to spend new years in the US.
6. New York needs planning
NYE on Times Square is famous, but beware of the cold. Also, since it is safe to assume Manhattan is completely gridlocked during the countdown. Not only will you have to compete with thousands of locals, there will also be a small army under way to avoid any calamities. New York has become a little finicky ever since 9/11 when it comes to these things.
Your best bet for a memorable NYE in New York is to place some phone calls with the more renowned cocktail bars and see what they are up to. You can even get all for the price of one if you manage to find 1) a luxury hotel in Manhattan, with 2) a renowned cocktail bar in the lobby and 3) a great program for NYE.
BEST NEW YEARS EVE PARTIES AROUND THE WORLD
The title for “best new years eve parties in the world” is a debatable one, but certain spots are definitely more deserving than others.
Rio De Janeiro is world famous not just for its carnival, but also for its NYE celebrations. Millions of people gather on the Copacabana, decked out all in white (it’s supposed to bring good luck).
After the countdown, you may notice some people throwing flowers in the water, which is considered an offering to the sea goddess Yemanja, but tourists are hardly aware of this. On a more funny note, Europeans tend to associate red underwear with good luck during NYE, as opposed to the South American white. Whether there is any merit to these habits seems debatable, but it certainly helps the garment industry.
2. Valparaiso, Chile
Also located in South America (what is it with latin parties?), Valparaiso is renowned for its fireworks, and an extended three-day party, ending with the biggest display of them all. Loaded on several ships outside of the city, the spectacle goes on for almost half an hour.
To Americans and Asian, Chile is not considered a typical NYE destination, but make no mistake – the South Americans are hip to this and will plan their trip well in advance. As a result, you may expect millions of people making their way to Valparaiso. It is advised to book in advance to avoid a stressful hunt for the last available rooms in town. But keep in mind that it is definitely worth it!
Slovakia has long gone unnoticed, as are most countries in the former Eastern European states. But there is definitely something there; the Bratislava Film Festival has been a cultural staple for decades, and this city knows how to put on a show towards the end of the year too.
Due to the friendly tax climate and high quality of living, Bratislava is considered a creative hotspot housing the creative industry of Slovakia.
Countdown is best held in the old town, where there is a 3-hour program starting at 10pm on Hviezdoslavovo Square. Bratislava has a wild club life to which you can transfer once the new year has been properly introduced, or you’ve picked up the check at one of the many prestigious restaurants or bars in the city. And the best thing is that pricing is still very “Eastern European”, and completely incomparable to expensive cities like Paris or London. Oh, and Do check out the Masquerade Ball if you are into Venice Carnival! It’s a well-know party in- and around Bratislava.
4. Jost van Dyke
This destination gets dangerously close to celebrity territory, as it involves exclusivity, the Caribbean and yachts. The expensive kind of yachts at that.
Jost van Dyke is one of the British Virgin Islands, the smallest of the four to be exact. Casual bars and local restaurants dot the sandy beaches at White Bay. In the Island’s northeast, there is “Bubbly Pool”, a naturally foaming sea pool. The island is most famous for its yachts anchorages though and the sparse infrastructure that it has.
Visitors best stay on the island nearby, St. John and rely on shuttle taxis to take them to the party and back. Alternatively, having your own yacht mooring in one of the lagoons of the island itself is “baller” with a double capital L.
Both the tropical storm Irma and Maria haven’t done enough damage to ruin the festivities and Foxy’s, the bar that started the most famous NYE in the Caribbean is celebrating this year with a theme: “Fall of the Roman empire”, means that you get to wear a toga in the heart of the British Virgin Islands. What a way to slide into 2018!
Note that there will be a clear difference between the VIP audience and mere mortals like your author, but even so you are bound to have an unforgettable NYE here.
BEST PLACES TO SPEND NEW YEARS IN EUROPE
Ah, the Europeans. For weeks on end, they like to torture each other at the water cooler, asking coworkers casually where they are going to celebrate NYE. In an effort not to be outdone, everyone tries to attend lavish parties organized all over the continent, meaning that there are plenty of opportunities for those who are willing to travel.
Because of the winter weather, I recommend not concentrating on the outdoors, with one notable exception:
1. Madeira Islands, Portugal
Similar to Jost van Dyke in the Caribbean, the Madeiras offer mooring opportunities for yacht owners, and cruise ship passengers. As a result, a certain degree of decadence finds its way to Portugal this time of the year, along with the biggest firework display in the world (Guiness Book of Records people!).
As a bonus, you are going to blow everyone’s water cooler stories out of the water, especially if you managed to snag a private yacht.
Nicknamed “The City of a Hundred Spires”, a recent count actually came close to 500. Prague is beautiful as its architecture is a combination of gothic, baroque and renaissance that works extremely well in cold winter weather.
I have mentioned cruises on several occasions in this article, and even though Prague is landlocked, the river allows you to take a cruise during the festivities giving you an exceptional view of the fireworks in Letna Parks. Keep in mind that you are in former communist country and that people really do love to drink.
Therefor, seeing someone who is clearly too drunk to be handling any kinds of fireworks is extremely common; so keep that in mind if you are thinking of bringing kids to the festivities. For families especially the cruise idea is great, as it gives you ample space for you and your loved ones and there is no fireworks anarchy around midnight that you have to worry about.
For couples or single travelers, Sasazu is a must-go nightclub that will require you to purchase a ticket well in advance. Alternatively, Mecca will host a masquerade-themed ball similar to the one described in Bratislava. Do yourself a favor and spend some time sourcing a costume AND a mask; you don’t want to be one of the 300 people wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and jeans.
A word of caution; it is very tempting to watch the countdown from anywhere in the city where crowds will gather. However, there are very few places that are actually convenient in the long run, since most of them will require you to make it back to your accommodation as well. In a gridlocked city that is likely on lockdown (Paris will not have forgotten the recent attacks), that can be a nightmare.
The only place to truly and really enjoy the festivities is in Mont Martre. So, if you managed to secure a hotel anywhere in the 18th district, you are on to greatness. Nightclubs are closeby as well (Pigalle!), and you can basically enjoy the fireworks from the highest spot in the city, and walk back inside, making Paris easily one of the best places to spend new years in Europe.
Spend the next day walking off your hangover in this wonderful neighbourhood that almost lets you forget you are in the middle of the country’s biggest city, while you breathe in 2018.
In essence, the more luxurious or well-known your NYE destination it, the more planning it requires. I planned for a secluded beach resort this year, and came up short with transportation as everything was sold out a month in advance. There is a lesson in there and next year I will make sure to secure the best possible tickets when I still can. And so should you!
Enjoy your slide into 2018!!!
More Inspiration: Check out other amazing places you need to visit
Alexander Grootmeester is an copywriter/online media expert living in South-east Asia for the better part of a decade. Asked what he likes best about living there, he usually answers that it’s “the tightly organized anarchy”.