Fireworks over Sydney Harbour

7 perfect places to ring in the New Year

Crafting the ultimate New Year’s Eve experience

Published on 22 Dec 2023

New Year’s Eve is a time of reflection, celebration and anticipation. As the clock strikes midnight, people all over the world gather to bid farewell to the old year and welcome the new one with joy and excitement.

 If you’re in search of the perfect place to spend this magical evening, look no further. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore some of the most extraordinary destinations that promise an unforgettable New Year’s Eve celebration. From vibrant cities to serene natural wonders, these places offer a diverse range of experiences to suit every traveller’s preferences. 

Read first: New Year’s traditions around the world

Sydney, Australia

Fireworks extravaganza by the Opera House

New Year’s Eve in Sydney is synonymous with breathtaking fireworks and the iconic Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge serve as the backdrop for this spectacular display. Sydney kicks off the global New Year’s Eve festivities with a bang and watching the fireworks light up the night sky over the Sydney Harbour is a truly mesmerising experience. For the ultimate view, book a cruise on the harbour or secure a spot at one of the city’s many vantage points, such as the Royal Botanic Garden. Sydney’s lively atmosphere and infectious energy make it a top choice for those seeking a lively start to the year. 

Vienna, Austria

Classical elegance and grand balls

Vienna, the city of music and elegance, offers a New Year’s Eve celebration that is both refined and opulent. The Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s Concert is a world-renowned event, broadcast to millions worldwide. To join in the festivities, attend one of the city’s grand balls, such as the Hofburg Silversterball, where you can waltz the night away in a stunning imperial palace. At midnight, the skies over Vienna come alive with a magnificent fireworks display. With its timeless charm, classical music and sophisticated ambience, Vienna offers a New Year’s experience fit for royalty. 

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Carnival-style celebrations

Rio de Janeiro knows how to throw a party - and its New Year’s Eve celebration is no exception! Known as Réveillon, the city’s festivities feature music, dance and the world-famous Copacabana Beach fireworks display. Locals and visitors alike dress in white attire, symbolising peace and good luck for the year ahead. It’s customary to jump over seven waves while making seven wishes as you enter the ocean at midnight. The vibrant energy of Rio’s celebration, reminiscent of its Carnival festivities, creates an electric atmosphere perfect for those seeking a lively start to the year. 

Reykjavík, Iceland

Fireworks, bonfires and Northern Lights

Reykjavík may be the northernmost capital in the world, but it knows how to create a warm and inviting New Year’s celebration. The city’s fireworks display is a sight to behold and locals take to the streets to set off their pyrotechnics, creating a kaleidoscope of colours in the night sky. Before the fireworks, join the tradition of watching the Áramótaskaup, a satirical comedy show that humorously recaps the year’s events. For a unique twist, you may even witness the Northern Lights if you’re lucky. Afterwards, join the locals at one of the city’s many bonfires to warm up and enjoy the community spirit. 

Kyoto, Japan

Temple bells and tranquillity

If you’re looking for a serene and reflective way to usher in the new year, Kyoto offers a beautiful contrast to the bustling celebrations in other parts of the world. Japanese tradition places great emphasis on welcoming the new year with tranquillity and spirituality. Many temples, including Kinkaku-ji and Tō-ji Temple, open their doors for visitors to participate in the ringing of temple bells 108 times, symbolising the purification of the 108 worldly desires. Afterwards, enjoy a traditional Japanese New Year’s meal known as Osechi Ryori. Kyoto’s peaceful atmosphere and cultural significance make it a profound and memorable destination to start the year. 

Edinburgh, Scotland

Hogmanay festival

For a New Year’s Eve celebration steeped in tradition and charm, look no further than Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Festival. This multi-day extravaganza includes torchlight processions, live music performances and a grand midnight fireworks display over Edinburgh Castle. Don’t miss the famous Loony Dook, where brave souls take a dip in the freezing River Forth on New Year’s Day. The warm and welcoming spirit of the Scots, combined with the enchanting backdrop of Edinburgh’s historic streets, makes Hogmanay a unique and heartwarming way to ring in the new year. 

Cape Town, South Africa

Fireworks over Table Mountain

Cape Town’s New Year’s Eve celebration is a vibrant and picturesque affair, with the iconic Table Mountain as a backdrop. The city hosts various events, from beach parties to elegant soirées, catering to every taste. However, the real highlight is the dazzling fireworks display over the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront and Table Mountain. The atmosphere is electric and the panoramic views are simply breathtaking. If you’re seeking a blend of natural beauty and festivities, Cape Town is the place to be as you welcome the new year with a view that’s second to none.

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