When it’s time to turn the last page of the calendar, the New Year is celebrated across the globe in similar ways with festivities that usually include music, dancing, and all sorts of food and drink, concluding with a breathtaking firework display. But every destination tends to have its own unique take, and, of course, a distinct setting that sets it apart as well.
In 2023, New Year’s Day is on a Monday, making it easier to plan a trip over the long weekend. From the most famous places like New York’s Times Square to romantic Paris where fireworks are shot from the Eiffel Tower, these are some of the best vacation destinations during New Year’s weekend.
Note: No matter where you spend the New Year it’s important to bring a reusable water bottle, even if you’re heading to a chilly destination. Drier indoor air that results from heating systems can cause dehydration and in very cold places like Iceland, drinking enough water can also help prevent hypothermia. With your LARQ water bottle, you won’t have to waste precious vacation time cleaning it as it has a self-cleaning cycle that automatically activates every two hours.
New York City, New York
If you want to know where to celebrate the New Year in the most iconic way possible, watching the Ball Drop in Times Square has to be it, an experience on many travelers’ bucket lists. Every year, thousands of revelers head here for one of the most iconic New Year’s Eve celebrations in the world. For over a century, that huge glittering ball has been lowered into Times Square on December 31, with the countdown beginning at 11:59 p.m. The geodesic sphere drops 70 feet, while confetti bursts into the dark night sky as the highlight of one of the planet’s biggest parties. It attracts over a million who also come to enjoy the big-name music acts and become a part of history themselves by writing their resolutions on the wishing wall for the coming year.
Before and after the festivities, explore the many renowned attractions New York City is known for from Central Park and The Metropolitan Museum of Art to Ellis Island and the Empire State Building.
Las Vegas, Nevada
In Las Vegas, Nevada it’s a party all year round, but that’s taken up at least a notch or two on New Year’s Eve. It’s a great place to ring in the New Year as the iconic Strip will host a special event with fireworks and many of the hotels will be throwing their own celebrations, such as California Hotel & Casino and the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino. On New Year’s Eve, the Strip shuts down to vehicle traffic, opening up as a pedestrianized thoroughfare for mingling, drinking, and watching the countless fireworks that are shot from the rooftops. There will be laser shows and live music played by a variety of bands too, transforming a four-mile stretch of the city into a massive street party.
Of course, Vegas offers numerous other things to do from testing your luck at gambling to rides and elaborate shows.
Sydney, Australia is one of the world’s first capital cities to welcome the New Year and residents here know how to do it right. You’ll find plenty of ways to celebrate here. You might join one of the many boat cruises that will be filled with revelers providing the perfect vantage point for the fireworks extravaganza in Sydney Harbour. There are also lots of waterfront eateries near the Sydney Harbour Bridge that provide front-row seats for the dazzling light display. You’ll be able to watch mini-light shows, aerial flyovers, and indigenous smoking ceremonies too, plus Bondi Beach usually hosts a huge party with music where you can dance the night away.
Touring the Sydney Opera House or catching a performance, enjoying a view from the Sydney Tower, the city’s tallest structure, and watching the surfers ride the waves at Bondi Beach are just a few of the other things you can do while in Sydney.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The cultural capital of Brazil is renowned for hosting one of the world’s best Carnival celebrations, but New Year’s Eve here is also off the charts. Enjoy many events on world-famous Copacabana Beach with the party featuring giant stages set along the waterfront along with a wide range of drum-heavy music, elaborate Carnival-style costumes, traditional dance performances, and a variety of fairground attractions providing entertainment throughout the evening. Over two million people will pack the beach, creating a mass of white. The color is worn as it’s believed to bring good luck for the coming year. Handfuls of flowers will be tossed into the ocean as a gift to the Goddess of the Seas, Yemnja, the samba will be danced and plenty of champagne will be enjoyed. During the New Year countdown, thousands of fireworks are shot over the water from the procession of boats.
While in Rio, be sure to see the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World standing 124 feet tall with outstretched arms out to the city from the Corcovado Mountains.
It’s hard to beat Paris when it comes to romantic destinations for a New Year’s Eve party, and the City of Lights hosts a spectacular fireworks display from the Eiffel Tower. You might even watch the show while enjoying a New Year’s Eve boat cruise on the River Seine, a bucket list experience if there ever was one. It’s a joyful atmosphere throughout the city streets with thousands of revelers celebrating. The Champagne will be flowing and there will be lots of dancing too.
Before or after the big event, see the Venus de Milo and Mona Lisa at The Louvre, Van Gogh’s Starry Night at the Orsay Champs Elysees, and the Arc de Triomphe, among many other sights.
One of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Edinburgh hosts Hogmanay on New Year’s Eve, which basically means a party to celebrate the year’s final day. There will be a massive street party on Princes Street, the iconic shopping street that runs through the New Town, along with a torchlight parade traveling through the city. Live music and lots of food and drink will be all part of the fun. It would be difficult to find a city that does it up this big for the last day of the year.
The famous Scottish poet Robert Burns is the writer of Auld Lang Syne so it has special significance here and will be sung throughout Edinburgh’s streets. One of the greatest displays of fireworks you’ll ever see explodes at midnight with spectacular Edinburgh Castle serving as the backdrop. The party keeps kicking into New Year’s Day, with the brave participating in the “Loony Dook” – leaping into the frigidly cold River Forth as part of the annual splash. There are many attractions to enjoy in the capital city from a tour of the castle to the many landmarks along the Royal Mile.
One of the most exciting international cities, Bangkok is known for putting on a great party so it’s no surprise that it puts on one of the best for New Year’s Eve. On December 31, this city pulls out all the stops. Every nightclub and bar will be filled with partiers although you’ll find the most elaborate event at CentralWorld Square. Several hundred thousand people will gather for an awe-inspiring light show and a live concert. You might find a perfect seat at a rooftop restaurant with many offering special rooftop dinners that include champagne while offering a fabulous view of the fireworks.
Some of the highlights to visit in the city include the Grand Palace, the most important temple in Thailand, as a complex home to the sacred Emerald Buddha while filled with historic buildings, art, and artifacts. Be sure to check out one of the floating markets too.
Iceland may be chilly, but it hosts one of the planet’s hottest celebrations of New Year’s Eve. It’s a citywide event thrown by the locals that includes neighborhood bonfires symbolizing the burning of the previous year’s troubles. Folk songs, people dressed up like trolls and elves, and plenty of drinking, are all enjoyed, and you’ll see thousands of fireworks light up the sky from every corner of the capital city. If you’re lucky, the northern lights will create a dazzling spectacle to complement the pyrotechnics.
The festivities continue long into the night, with locals lining up for hotdogs at 5 a.m. before going to the hot springs for a soak.