As 2014 is approaching closer and closer we’ve selected the top cities in which to ring in the New Year.
Seeing Big Ben strike 12 on December 31 is reason enough to book flights to London. This is one of the iconic images of the New Year. One thing you won’t have to shell out for that night is the public transport. The Mayor picks up the bill for that. The action takes place along the Thames, sparkling fireworks illuminating the night sky. The rule of thumb in London is if you can see the London Eye you can see the fireworks.
Taking flights to Paris to stand on the Champs-Elysees to see in the New Year is one of those do-before-you-die activities. Crowds start to gather around 9pm, bottles of champagne and plastic flutes bundled under jackets. There are several points along the Champs-Elysees that give good views of the Eiffel Tower. The fireworks on the iconic monument seem to almost lift it off the ground. Montmartre is also a great spot from which to watch the action.
Known locally as “Oudjaarsavond” (Old Year’s Eve), NYE in the Dutch capital is marked by spirited street-parties and fireworks aplenty. Taking a flight to Amsterdam for the festivities guarantees a good time, whether spent marvelling at fireworks, at impromptu outdoor revels or at New Year’s extravaganzas at the city’s multitude of top-notch nightspots. Dam Square, Rembrandtplein, Nieuwmarkt are all popular gathering places but the bridges on Amsterdam’s main canals are also great places to see the fireworks for those avoiding the crowds.
This package holiday idyll is probably not one of the top tier New Year’s Eve destinations but just a few years ago Macedo’s Pirotecnia got it into the Guinness Book of Records. The achievement? The largest firework display in the world. Fireworks are set off from about 50 posts, lighting up the skies over Funchal for about ten minutes.
There’s a massive NYE party at Brandenburg Gate. Silvester, as the Germans call it (December 31 is the feast of Pope St. Sylvester), is marked in serious style. The festival attracts one million revellers and takes place on Straße des 17. Juni between Brandenburger Tor and Siegessäule. Music, dancing, stage shows, and world-class, spectacular fireworks make New Year’s Eve in Berlin more than a match for, say, New York’s.
Could there be a more timeless backdrop to New Year’s Eve than the colourful onion domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral? If you are planning on seeing in 2013 in Red Square, get there as early as you can. In previous years the police have closed the square once they have felt that it has become too crowded.
7. New York
Times Square is another New Year’s Eve destination that on the must-do list, worth taking flights to New York for. One million people fill the square from early afternoon waiting for the Ball to descend. The best vantage points are along Broadway (43rd Street to 50th Street), Seventh Avenue and north to 59th Street. Ahead of the big day, you can add your wishes for 2013 online or in person and your wish will be part of the confetti.
8. Rio de Janeiro
Rio’s New Year’s Eve party will kick off on Copacabana Beach at 6pm with DJs and 8pm marks the start of shows. Eleven barges stocked with 1,200 fireworks each, 40 sound towers and four screens will ensure that the two-million strong crowd will always remember where they saw in 2013.
Anyone booking flights to Australia for the end of December has to pencil in a visit to Sydney for its spectacular lightshow. Against the backdrop of the Sydney Harbour bridge, beside the Opera House, the fireworks hop and dance off the bridge and water. They’re visible from Gladesville Bridge to the Heads of Sydney Harbour. Many vantage points are ticketed but there are lots of free ones. They include Balls Head Reserve, Waverton; Bicentennial Park, Glebe; Birchgrove Park, Birchgrove; Blues Point Reserve, McMahons Point; Bradfield Park, Milsons Point; Bradley’s Head, Mosman; Campbells Cove, The Rocks; Circular Quay Promenade, Circular Quay; Cremorne Point Reserve, Cremorne Point and Dawes Point, The Rocks.
The Thais celebrate their New Year (Songkran Festival) in April but go big for the International New Year too. If you’re taking flights to Bangkok at the end of the year, there are three places to mark the passing of the old year – Central World Mall, National Stadium and, perhaps less raucously, at Sanam Luang, the open space near the Grand Palace where you can enjoy Thai dance performances and traditional and contemporary music shows. From there you’ll have the best views of the fireworks display along the banks of the Chao Phraya. Or, make merit at one of the Buddhist temples to ensure a happy and prosperous New Year.