The year 2018 is reaching its final stages. Christmas cheer is spreading nicely, and our holiday bellies are comfortably settling in. After Christmas Day, while we watch in woe as the decorations are packed away, we wait mere days for the new year to arrive. Whether you’ve lived your best life in 2018, or you’re in desperate need of a fresh start, the countdown finally begins. Cities around the world are gearing up for their annual celebrations and locals are preparing to indulge in their age-old traditions and festivities.
Depending on where you are in the world, you might be eating grapes for good luck, seeing a firework spectacle, or joining in on a wholesome chorus of ‘Auld Lang Syne’, the traditional New Year’s tune meaning ‘time gone by’. And gone by it has.
Whether you’re still making last-minute arrangements, or your plans have been booked solid since April (organisation goals), the midnight hour will cue parties and merrymaking all over the globe, beginning with Samoa, Tonga and Christmas Island, and finishing with Baker and Howland Island (outlying US islands). With 38 different local times in action, it takes 26 hours for the New Year to encompass all time zones and make its way around the world.
Here are some of the most iconic celebrations to take place around the world… (so you can start planning for next year).
Sydney, as one of the first major cities to greet the New Year, sets the bar remarkably high. Upon a spectacular backdrop, featuring the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, Sydney starts the party with around $7 million worth of fireworks, exploding off barges and the iconic bridge itself.
In 2017, about 1.6 million people lined the harbour foreshore for a view of the sparklers, with an estimated worldwide audience of 1 billion people. About 8 tonnes of fireworks resulted in a sky brimful of colour and light.
The parade will reflect nothing less this year, where Sydney will welcome 2019 with a show that will once again reinforce its position as New Year’s Eve capital of the world.
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
In true Brazilian fashion, New Year’s Eve in Rio De Janeiro is one big party at the beach. Locals and tourists alike flock to Copacabana beach, where the New Year is greeted by about 2 million merry souls, dancing and drinking their way into the Réveillon.
For good luck, Brazilians traditionally dress in white for the occasion, sometimes adding a splash of colour to lure in other blessings: red for romance, green for health, yellow for success, for instance.
Welcoming partygoers, beach lovers and samba fanatics from all over the world, the waterfront festivities are infused with live music, sprays of champagne and a monumental 20-minute display of fireworks. And once again for 2019, Copacabana will call all the crazy kids to join in the fiesta.
New York City, USA
The city that never sleeps, the home of the Ball Drop, the place to be on New Year’s Eve: New York City. A celebration bordered by Broadway’s bright lights, the biggest names in music and entertainment, and over 1 million people, the city invites viewers worldwide to bid a collective farewell to the passing year, and a joyful hello to the next.
Anticipation runs high in the crowd as the clock nears midnight, and the dazzling 11,570-pound sphere drops alongside the countdown, flaunting almost 2700 handmade crystals and over 30,000 LED lights.
As well as the 50,000 watts it takes to power the spectacle, 30 million pieces (30 pounds) of confetti are also drizzled upon the crowd once the ball completes the drop, by more than 100 people on top of 7 different buildings around Times Square.
Rather than referring to its value as over $1 million, organisers prefer to label the cost of the gleaming ball at ‘priceless’.
A city brimming with culture, music and architectural beauty, Vienna leaves its visitors in awe at any time of the year. For New Year’s Eve, the Old City impresses even further, transforming into a giant street party complete with gala events, dancing and, in true Viennese fashion, glorious operatic performances.
From 2pm to 2am the following morning, Vienna honours the occasion with an extraordinary array of musical festivities and entertainment, accompanying the New Year’s Eve trail with servings of punch and culinary treats.
Not only does the city know how to celebrate, but its capacity to recover is also wonderfully reassuring. New Year’s Day in Vienna is greeted in classic fashion with a calming hangover cure: a morning screening of Vienna Philharmonic’s live performance, just in front of City Hall. No need to even open those eyes, just listen your way into 2019 via the melodious tunes and soothing sounds of the city’s iconic orchestra.
As one of Asia’s best nightlife cities, Bangkok is naturally the place to be for those who relish crowds and revelry. In fact, Thailand’s capital offers hundreds of celebrations around the city, providing everyone with various options for how to ring in the new year.
Bangkok’s CentralWorld Plaza, the main gathering spot, throws one of the biggest street parties in the city, hosting all-night live music, light shows, a beer garden, delicious food and of course, fireworks. From rooftop bars in the city to the eclectic night bazaar that is Asiatique, the New Year’s events are endless in Bangkok.
Wherever you may be this New Year’s Eve, there is something for everyone, everywhere in the world.
If you’re in the festive spirit, check out our blog on Christmas Traditions Around the World.