New Year’s Eve is one of the busiest days in major cities, with millions out in the streets welcoming in the New Year until the early hours of the morning. For many, the cold and the crowds are worth putting up with to see some of the year’s most awe-inspiring fireworks displays, and to carry over the good cheer from Christmas.
These five cities go all out to stage some of the biggest New Year shows in the world.
New York – The Times Square Ball Drop
The Ball Drop in New York’s Times Square is one of the most iconic New Year celebrations of all. Around a million people pack into the square to see the New Year’s Eve Ball descend a 77-foot flagpole on top of the world-famous One Times Square building. Some revellers wait eight hours or more to get the best view.
For those who don’t make it to Times Square, the television broadcast of Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve has provided the soundtrack to America’s New Year celebrations for over forty years, and features live and pre-recorded performances from world-famous music acts.
London – The Skyline Illuminated
The UK capital is packed with landmarks to illuminate when welcoming in the New Year. In previous years, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, Tower Bridge, and The Shard have all been lit up with breathtaking fireworks and light displays, making the city’s skyline stand out on the world stage.
As to be expected, central London is a hive of activity on New Year’s Eve, with a lot of focus around the Thames, where the best views of the fireworks can be had. You can take a midnight cruise along the river to get the best view of the impressive pyrotechnics, or dine at one of the many establishments along its banks.
Alternatively, you can take advantage of the soaring London skyline by dining in style in one of its restaurants with a view, such as Aqua Shard, which boasts incredible panoramic views of the city, or The Rooftop at St. James, which overlooks Trafalgar Square. You might not be as close to the action, but you will still get some of the best views and beat the crowds at the same time.
Sydney – Fireworks Over the Harbour
Fireworks are a given for any New Year’s celebration, but few sights are more impressive than the display over Sydney harbour. Launched from Sydney Harbour Bridge, the colourful fireworks beautifully illuminate the iconic sails of the Opera House and the boats moored around it.
This year, a number of events are due to take place in and around the harbour in the build-up to the fireworks, including aerobatic displays, ceremonies to celebrate Australia’s Aboriginal heritage, and the Harbour of Light parade, during which a procession of illuminated ships sails across the water. Finally, after the countdown to midnight, the first spectacular fireworks are launched.
Rio de Janeiro – Party on the Copacabana
Two million people fill Rio de Janeiro’s famous Copacabana beach to party and watch the fireworks display that welcomes in the New Year. Revellers carpet the sand until the beach itself can’t be seen, and they’re joined by others celebrating on the rooftops of nearby buildings. As might be expected, the party goes on well into the early hours, with night clubs by the beach packed out.
As New Year falls during Brazil’s summer, many revellers head straight into the sea after the fireworks are over, and some might take a quiet break from the festivities in order to float candles, flowers, and other offerings in the water, in tribute to Iemanjá, the goddess of the sea.
Those attending the New Year party traditionally wear white, as it is believed to bring peace.
Paris – Celebrating on the Champs-Élysées
Parisians are spoilt for choice when it comes to celebrating the New Year, perhaps more than those in any other city. With its world-famous landmarks, rich artistic and cultural heritage, and beautiful architecture, the city has something for everyone.
Although the city’s most iconic landmark, the Eiffel Tower, stages impressive light shows on New Year’s Eve, most revellers tend to congregate on the Champs-Élysées, which is the designated centre of the party. The Arc De Triomphe launches its own light and fireworks display, which can be seen all the way down the wide, two-kilometre long boulevard.
Those people that fancy a quieter time can take in the sights at the street parties around Sacré-Coeur, Montmartre, the spiritual home of Parisian artists. Festivities will be a little more subdued here, but the numerous bars and restaurants around the district will seem more inviting than ever on a cold winter night.