As the Christmas rush simmers down and the holiday season draws to a close, there’s still one final bash to finish out the year. Now’s the time to make your New Year’s Eve plans and get 2014 started off right. Below are 10 of the best New Year’s Eve celebrations from around the globe.
1. New York City, NY
There’s just nothing else that compares to The Ball Drop in The Big Apple. Watched all around the world, this Time’s Square custom dates back to 1907, when the iconic ball – a 12-foot glittering globe weighing 11,875 pounds – is dropped at the turn of midnight from the top of One Times Square, just as the square is covered with one ton of shimmering confetti. Headline musical acts and tens of thousands of pilgrimaging revelers make this party one for the ages.
2. Barcelona, Spain
Spain’s party capital is choc-a-bloc full of chic restaurants, bars and nightclubs holding special events for New Year’s Eve. In the countdown to midnight, huge street parties take over Plaza Catalunya, Las Ramblas and Plaza Reial, with crowds singing, popping champagne, enjoying tapas and dancing in the streets. Dress to impress.
3. Cape Town, South Africa
Every New Year’s, The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront hosts a music concert and midnight fireworks display to kick off a week-long celebration. The party then continues on New Year’s Day, when the “Kaapse klopse,” or Cape Town Minstrel Carnival, hits the streets.
4. Orlando, Florida
The world capital of theme parks, Orlando offers a smorgasbord of options for bringing in the New Year with a bang. Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld all open until 1 AM, and Disney World famously brings in the New Year with the biggest fireworks display of the year, complete with Cirque du Soleil performances, dance parties, confetti and your favorite cartoon characters.
5. Reykjavik, Iceland
With only four hours of daylight at the end of December, the northernmost capital of the world has an extra long New Year’s Eve party. Reykjavik’s celebrations kick off with evening mass at the Cathedral, before locals spill onto the street, gathering around huge bonfires to play music, sing, drink and dance under the northern stars.
6. Edinburgh, Scotland
Known for some of the liveliest New Year’s Eve parties in the world, this old Scottish city celebrates with a massive four-day festival known as “Hogmany.” The tradition brings some 250,000 partygoers to the city center, beginning with a torchlight procession and following with a giant open-air Ceilidh (Celtic party) full of live music, raised stages and parties in every corner of the city.
7. Las Vegas, Nevada
Specially for New Year’s Eve, the famed Las Vegas Strip becomes a car-free zone, with live bands, firework displays and laser-shows turning the area into a giant street party. While ticket prices skyrocket, so too do the musical acts, with big names hitting the clubs all over town. Whether you’re after a marquee show or a place to throw down bets and enjoy drinks on the house, Sin City has plenty to offer for New Year’s Eve.
8. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio’s New Year’s Eve is the hottest party this side of Carnival. The famous Copacabana beach hosts the celebrations – stages are erected along the beach, and an array of colorful costumes, live music, traditional performances and street and beach parties keep locals and tourists alike entertained into the daylight hours. Wear white and stay close to your friends – more than two million people cram onto the beach to watch the midnight fireworks over the sea.
9. Buenos Aires, Argentina
With temperatures soaring into the 80s and 90s even at night (it’s the hot season here), the streets from San Telmo to Palermo Viejo swell with people from all over the world, out to enjoy the delicious evening weather, restaurants open all night, tango parties, nightclubs and spontaneous festivities. In addition to the main fireworks display along the river in Puerto Madero, many locals set off fireworks of their own, turning Buenos Aires into a hot, smoky, stylish party like only Porteños can pull off.
10. Sydney, Australia
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is the center of this world-renowned celebration, with two fireworks displays set off from river barges and rooftops, casting Sydney Harbour and the iconic Opera House alight in resplendent color. The festivities include aerial acrobatics, an Aboriginal smoking ceremony (to cleanse your evil spirits for the New Year) and an Acknowledgement of Country presentation. If you haven’t been to Australia, be forewarned: these guys know how to party.