As the classic Frank Loesser song goes, “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” New Years celebrations have been around for centuries with the earliest dating all the way back to 2000 B.C. in Mesopotamia. The tradition of the famous Times Square ball drop in the Big Apple began in 1907. Across the globe, New Year’s customs vary in scope and scale though a large majority celebrate with fireworks of some kind. Quite a few cities are high on the popularity list and attract thousands of visitors from all areas of the world, making them a bucket list destination to experience at least once. If you are planning to welcome 2019 or a New Year in the foreseeable future, here are the 10 best spots to share a New Year’s kiss and yell, “Happy New Year!”
New York, New York
Mention New Year’s Eve and most thoughts immediately turn toward Times Square in Manhattan. Tens of thousands of people pack into Times Square to see the now famous ball drop. Freezing temperatures, rain, and even snow do not deter people far and wide from coming out to stand for hours in Times Square awaiting the big countdown and midnight ball drop. Millions of others around the world watch it on television.
Experiencing it in person is a must do at least once. Before heading out, remember security is extremely tight and the wait starts early in the afternoon especially if you want a prime spot.
While all eyes may be on NYC at midnight, Sydney is the first major city to say, “Happy New Year!” More people attend Sydney’s spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks display than cram into Times Square. Sydney Harbour lights up as the city’s signature Opera House and Harbour Bridge serve as an awesome backdrop. Spectators line the parks on both sides of the harbor and the islands to see the show that also features a waterfall shower of lights from the bridge and a pyrotechnic design showcasing the year’s theme.
Mickey Mouse and company know how to throw a party and for people with kids, Orlando’s Disney World holds a family-friendly get-together There aren’t any worries about finding a babysitter here since kids of all ages are welcome. New Year’s Eve celebrations include parades, light shows, concerts and of course magical fireworks. Nearby Universal Studios also headlines a huge dance party that is fun for all.
London’s fireworks display along the Thames River have become such a draw that tickets are now required. Sales start in September for the New Year’s Eve event. If you can’t get a coveted ticket, take heart. People still manage to see the tremendous fireworks show from other London hotspots including Primrose Hill, Parliament Hill, Hampstead Heath, and Alexandra Park. Booking a New Year’s Eve river cruise is another cool way to celebrate and see the fireworks show in this breathtaking historic city.
Vancouver, British Columbia
It’s cold outside for this all night street party in Canada Place, but there are food trucks and concerts to keep you warm before the big fireworks extravaganza at midnight. If you have kids, there is a special fireworks show for families at 9 p.m. For people feeling especially energetic on New Year’s Eve, there is a polar bear plunge at English Bay Beach that really gets the blood pumping.
Venice is, of course, world famous for its canals as well as its romance, so where better to enjoy a New Year’s kiss? St. Marks Square hosts a selection of concerts and fireworks erupt at midnight from barges stationed in the canal basin. Winter is typically not a peak tourist time in Venice, but many still make the trek to this floating city to ring in the New Year. Plan ahead if a Venice New Year’s celebration is on your list and be sure to book a hotel early.
Cape Town, South Africa
While price tags for many New Year’s Eve celebrations are inflated, South Africa’s jewel Cape Town offers a stark contrast. Travelers heading to South Africa will be delighted to know Cape Town offers a whole host of free entertainment on December 31 to celebrate the incoming New Year. Visitors are treated to an array of concerts along the waterfront culminating in a fireworks display with Table Mountain as the backdrop. Cape Town has many family-friendly New Year’s events on the menu as well.
San Francisco, California
Fireworks are a common New Year’s theme around the globe and the United States isn’t an exception. Many American cities host fireworks displays on New Year’s Eve though quite a few folks make it a point to travel to San Francisco to enjoy the famous fireworks display that explodes between the Ferry Building and the Bay Bridge. Unlike some New Year’s Eve firework festivities, you won’t have to bundle up for this one since San Francisco’s typical late December temperatures hover between 55 and 59 degrees. Before the fireworks start erupting, explore Union Square and all its holiday trimmings. Of course, a trolley ride is a must do too.
Las Vegas, Nevada
What happens in Sin City is supposed to stay in Vegas, which means this party city really knows how to celebrate. On New Year’s Eve, the celebrities come out to play with concerts up and down the strip. Celine Dion, Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani, Maroon 5, Bruno Mars and Imagine Dragons will all headlined shows to welcome in 2019. If you love block parties, Vegas doesn’t disappoint here either. The entire strip closes down to traffic and hosts a gigantic block party with the highlight coming in a midnight fireworks show put on by the city’s casinos.
If you want a New Year’s Eve celebration that is slightly off the beaten path, head to Edinburgh. New Year’s is actually a three-day party beginning on December 30 with a procession of torchbearers walking from Parliament Square to Carlton Hill. Fireworks then light up the sky. New Year’s Eve hosts a bevy of festivals that conclude with a bigger fireworks show over Edinburgh Castle and the singing of “Auld Lang Syne” by practically everyone in the city. Finally, January 1 celebrations include a run through Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, a River Forth polar bear plunge and a dog sled race.