Having lived in London for many years, it’s the best hearing Big Ben strike midnight on New Year’s Eve. Although the days of lining the River Thames with 250,000 others are long gone, the atmosphere must be incredible. There are plenty of other things to do in the capital however if you missed nabbing a ticket. You could take a boat trip along the Thames, enjoy dinner at the Ritz or attend a Vegas-style evening of glamour at The Roof Gardens. Alternatively, there are cocktails and jazz at Oriole, Hogmanay Hootenanny at Balham’s Ceilidh Night Events and the Searcys human snow globe at the gherkin. You could also take in the Sky Bar at Millbank Tower, the View from the Shard or SushiSamba at the peak of the Heron Tower – all offer 360 degree views of London.
If you love the atmosphere large crowds bring, a million congregate at Times Square in New York. There you can see a 12 foot crystal ball drop from a flagpole above the Times Square building. Confetti descends onto party goers plus there are celebrity music acts and a pyrotechnic show. Alternatively you could enjoy a coveted view of the ball drop in the new R Lounge at the Renaissance Times Square Hotel which offers floor-to-ceiling windows and a front row view. There are other bars and restaurants that overlook Times Square or you could take a boat ride and admire the fireworks on Liberty Island.
Miami is the party capital of Florida with their New Year centrepiece a 35 foot neon icon – the Big Orange. It creeps 400 feet up the side of the hotel and reaches the top of the building at midnight when the fireworks explode. It’s Miami’s answer to Times Square and attracts over 250,000 visitors each year. There’s a spectacular fireworks display too, visible from the beach near Ocean Drive, and live performances at the amphitheatre with Lummus Park playing host to a New Year’s Eve party.
Australia was home for a couple of years and one of my most memorable celebrations was spent in Sydney on New Year’s Eve where I had a wonderful view of Sydney Harbour bridge. Sydney is the first city in the world to see the clock strike midnight and it puts on the most amazing firework display. More than a million people turn out to watch this extravaganza which features the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House plus air and water shows including the Harbour of the Light Brigade – a flotilla of 5o boats.
In Rio de Janeiro, many people take to the two-and-a-half mile Copacabana Beach. It’s the place to be if you want live music and dance performances. Rio is known for it’s carnival atmosphere and their New Year’s Eve party offers much of the same. Two million people head to Copacabana Beach with the locals wearing white for luck and throwing flowers into the ocean as a gift to the goddess of the seas.
Cape Town offers three days of celebrations. There’s a concert and fireworks display at the Victoria & Albert Waterfront with the New Year Carnival at Victoria Falls including a carnival-themed train. On New Year’s Day and the day following, thousands head to local beaches and the Cape Town Carnival, consisting of 10,000 performers, parades through town.
Koh Phangan plays host to one of the most infamous beach parties, located 30 minutes (by boat) from Koh Samui. The full-moon bash takes place in and around the Haad Rin Beach as soon as it gets dark until sunrise – and beyond! As you can imagine, there’s lots of drinking, dancing, glow-in-the-dark face paint plus each bar has its own sound system. Around 40,000 people attend the full-moon party.
Although not on the same scale as the Chinese New Year Fireworks, New Year in Hong Kong is still one of the most anticipated events of the year. The celebrations take place on the Hong Kong Island side, from the convention and exhibition centre, where a pyromusical display lights up the skies. You can watch the fireworks from pretty much anywhere in Hong Kong.
Finally, Hogmanay is Scotland’s world-famous festival which consists of three days of events. Last year Edinburgh saw nearly 150,000 attend celebrations in the capital from 70 countries. This year it including a torchlit procession (on the 30th), street party experience and the best in traditional music, ceilidh dancing and feasting in the Old Town. Plus one of the biggest firework displays on the planet. One of the highlights on New Year’s Day being the Stoats Loony Dook – the annual dip in the freezing River Forth!