Once you reach a certain age, you might be more inclined to go to bed well before midnight on New Year’s Eve, hoping that the noise of any nearby parties doesn’t wake you. Even celebrating New Year’s can be a bit of a hit and miss affair. It can be tempting to make a big night of it, and to actually go to a bar or club, along with several thousand other people who had the same idea. You spend a fortune on drinks, and good luck getting a taxi home afterwards. You might choose to have a quiet celebration with family and friends, and this can be wonderful, although you might feel like you’re missing out on something. Celebrating the New Year in a foreign country is something that everyone needs to experience at least once. While most of these celebrations are equally festive, there’s still something unique about each of them. So what are some of the best places in the world to see in the New Year?
The New Year festivities in Sydney are legendary, and are based around the city’s expansive and beautiful harbour. If you’re hoping for a low-key celebration, then this is not the place for you, as every conceivable vantage point is claimed. It’s best to decide upon a good spot in the days before the end of December, and then get there early in the day on New Year’s Eve. Bring food and drinks and be prepared to hang around for a while. It’s worth the wait. Day becomes night as millions of dollars worth of fireworks are detonated above the harbour, with the iconic harbour bridge (affectionately known as the coathanger) taking a starring role. It seems to rain bright colours onto the water below as the fireworks strategically attached to it are set off. There are many companies that will offer an all-inclusive package on private land to get a good view, but approach this warily. Some of the views are not as good as promised, and these events are often oversold. If you pay for a party, opt for one of the luxury hotels that overlooks the harbour. You will pay a small fortune for it, but excellent views are guaranteed, along with world class food and drinks.
While there are no official border controls between Germany and Poland, police are permitted to inspect vehicles as they cross between the two countries. These random checks become far less random in the days before New Year’s Eve. Fireworks are legal in Germany, and are sold year round, but some Polish fireworks could more be considered as weaponry and are not permitted in Germany. They are unnecessary, since when the clock strikes midnight in Germany’s vibrant capital, the skies light up as seemingly every citizen sends a volley of fireworks into the sky. The city resembles a war zone for a good 30 minutes, which is perhaps not a great analogy for Berlin, but is the best description. The noise and colour is unbelievable, and you might feel sorry for the many pet dogs in the city. But these worldly pooches in Berlin are probably less startled than you’re going to be.
Cuba is known for having a celebratory atmosphere regardless of the date, and while ringing in the New Year is certainly an occasion to be marked, it’s less over the top than you might think. Many people choose to see in the New Year with a sumptuous feast with friends and family, and if you’re lucky enough to experience this, dancing and excessive drinking won’t be quite so appealing afterwards. This is why many Cubans choose to spend New Year’s Eve at home, although the bars and clubs are certainly not deserted. A New Year’s tour in Cuba allows you to experience this wonderfully warm celebration in Cuba, although you would be wise to not be on the streets at midnight. It’s traditional to throw a bucket of water out the door just after midnight, to symbolise washing out any negativity from the previous year, and for making a clean start. Your New Year’s Eve celebrations in Cuba might not be so enjoyable if they include getting hit in the face with a bucket of water.
Pitt Island, New Zealand
It’s a bit of a trek to get to Pitt Island. You need to fly to New Zealand, and then take a small plane to Chatham Island (more than 600 km offshore), before changing to an even smaller plane for the short hop to Pitt Island (which lands on the grass strip that is in fact the island’s airport). So why would you travel all this way? Pitt Island is the first populated piece of land that sees sunlight each day. It’s in the earliest possible time zone, meaning that this is the very first place in the world where you can welcome the New Year. Only 38 people live on the island, and it’s generally a wonderfully quiet and relaxing place. The population explodes at the end of December as many people make the journey to be the very first in the world to celebrate.