5 Alternative Places to Ring in the New Year
Are you looking for an alternative way to celebrate New Year’s Eve this year? If you want to escape the crowds in New York City’s Times Square, Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate or Sydney's Darling Harbour, we've got five great, alternative options for you. Why not check out the street parades in the Bahamas, take part in the largest mass kissing event in Venice or say goodbye to last-year's woes with a traditional bell-rining ceremony in Japan? Whatever you choose to do, there’s a range of exciting experiences all across the globe come New Year’s Eve.
Escape to the Bahamas this New Year’s Eve not just for the sun, sand and sea, but to immerse yourself in the wonderful Bahamian celebrations of Junkanoo. Tourists and locals alike gather together in colourful street parades to eat, drink, dance and celebrate a Bahamian take on Mardi Gras. You will be in awe of the elaborate costumes and will want to dance along to the enticing beat, dazzled by street performers celebrating Bahamian arts and culture.
Where to stay: The luxurious Dolphin Cove apartments boast an outdoor pool, a private marina and an ideal location just a short stroll from a sandy-white beach. After a fun-fuelled night of seeing in the New Year, travellers can relax on the terrace whilst enjoying beautiful marina views, cook up a storm with the onsite BBQ facilities or take a trip to Lucayan Beach where an array of restaurants and bars can be found.
The lively and vibrant capital of Spain is a must-do for New Year’s Eve celebrations. Known for its delicious Spanish cuisine and electric nightlife, when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, make sure you have a dozen grapes in hand instead of an alcoholic beverage. This is part of the nation’s unique tradition and superstition of grape eating, where Spaniards will eat a grape for each stroke of midnight, representing good luck for each month of the coming year.
Where to stay: Stay in the heart of Madrid at the trendy Home Select Gran Via Apartments, complete with your very own rooftop terrace. Close to a wide variety of bars and restaurants, you can rent a bicycle to explore the bustling streets or take a short walk to Puerta del Sol, one of the best known and busiest places in the city.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
A New Year’s Eve in Rio de Janeiro is like no other, from the magical beachfront fireworks along the iconic Copacabana Beach to trendy cocktail clubs, swanky roof-top bars and mega nightclubs. But aside from the energetic nightlife scenes, Brazil holds several New Year’s Eve traditions and superstitions. Celebrate New Year’s Eve like a local by wearing white (a superstition which brings peace and prosperity) and honour the Goddess of the Ocean by jumping seven waves whilst making seven wishes at midnight. But be careful what you eat as this is believed to reflect your luck for the coming year. Lentils supposedly bring good luck, but avoid tucking into turkey or crab on the 31st of December as these are both considered unlucky!
Where to stay: The vibrant Injoy Hostel is ideally located with just a short stroll from Botafogo Beach and Copacabana Beach, perfect for celebrating New Years. You will definitely appreciate the hostel’s 24-hour front desk and the fresh daily breakfast to help recover from the night before! Relax in the hostel’s shared lounge and garden and tick off the other sites with a trip to Sugarloaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer Statue, both just a short drive away.
Japan’s New Year’s Eve celebrations (also known as Shōgatsu) is a time for quiet reflection, unlike many Western-style festivities. Locals will partake in Hatsumode to mark the first shrine visit of the New Year, with popular temples such as Meiji Jingu receiving thousands of visitors to have their prayers heard by the gods. Head to Tokyo’s Buddhist temples to experience the “Joya No Kane” ritual of 108 bell rings at the stroke of midnight to have your heart, mind and soul cleansed.
Where to stay: The elegant APA Hotel Asakusa Tawaramachi Ekimae offers guests a luxurious stay for the New Year, with spa facilities and an onsite restaurant. Conveniently located within a short walk from the ancient Buddhist Sensoji Temple, guests can experience the “Joya No Kane” ritual first-hand and beat the crowds to partake in Hatsumode.
Want to ring in the New Year like a Venetian? Make sure you wear something red, and even better if you wear red underwear, as it will supposedly bring good luck for the coming year! For money and good fortune, be sure you dine on lentils, and for richness of life, try a spicy campione sausage. Once the feast is over, head to St. Mark’s Square for huge celebrations with music, dance and fireworks. When the clock strikes twelve, pucker up for the mass kissing tradition!
Where to stay: A former monastery, the Eurostars Residenza Cannaregio offers a pretty courtyard and garden, fresh daily breakfasts and an ideal location with just a short walk from St. Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge.