Move over Times Square: Five Alternative Destinations to Ring in the New Year
What better way to see in the New Year than with a big bang abroad? Flashing fireworks, clock countdowns and cool celebrations are the tickets for an unforgettable break. With the festive season upon us, and with nearly three quarters (72%) of global travelers keen to embark on a nightlife centric vacation,* we have selected five fun filled destinations where travelers can party into the New Year. Popular destinations such as New York City’s Times Square and Sydney’s Harbor often end up at the top of travelers' lists, but we have delved into our more than 28 million properties in over 160,000 destinations across the globe to share some lesser known hotspots that offer their own special end-of-year antics. From fireworks bursting across beautiful backdrops in Chile to raucous street parties in the Bahamas, there’s no shortage of spectacular ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve in style.
Goa is a pocket-sized state nestled on the southwestern coast of India famed for its beaches, incredible nightlife and delicious seafood. Known as the Las Vegas of India, Christmas and the New Year is a great time for travelers to visit Goa with parties dotted along its string of golden-sand beaches. Partygoers can attend New Year’s Eve beach parties in Morjim and Arambol along the Arabian Sea and dance the night away on the palm-fringed sands and in the many clubs. According to local travelers, Baga Beach in north Goa is another hot spot to ring in the New Year, with bonfires and barbecues on the beach and party beats to dance the night away.** Goa is also home to several World Heritage sites including the Basilica of Bom Jesus and the Church of Saint Augustine. From sightseeing to a sunset dinner cruise, Explore Goa in a Nutshell allows travelers to experience Goa’s highlights including a visit to the cathedral and a spice plantation, rounded off with a boat cruise along the Mandovi River with traditional Goan dance performances – a great way to begin New Year’s Eve with a bang.
Where to stay: The historic Amrapali-House of Grace hotel set in Bambolim was built a century ago and is an oasis of calm in the center of a lively city. The boutique property overlooks a calming lake and is encased by a beautiful tropical garden that is sure to rejuvenate guests after a night of partying. Delicious meals such as sorpotel (a spicy pork curry) and balchao (a sweet and tangy seafood curry) are available at the onsite restaurant where guests can refuel. There’s also an outdoor swimming pool to cool off, with the option to relax on the terrace with a cup of tea or cocktail.
Want to ring in the New Year like a Venetian? Make sure you wear something red and, even better, if you wear red underwear it is said to bring good luck for the coming year. For money and good fortune, be sure to dine on lenticchie (lentils) and for richness of life try a spicy campione sausage. Once the New Year’s Eve feast is over, travelers can head to St. Mark’s Square for huge celebrations with music, dance and fireworks and when the clock strikes midnight, pucker up for the kissing tradition. Venice’s prime attraction, this grand square beautifully encapsulates the splendor of Venice’s past, both as a bustling market and the center of civic and religious life. Venice itself is a watery maze of a city, made up of lots of tiny islets full of charming squares and secluded churches, all crisscrossed by canals. Travelers can embark on a cultural journey with a Classic Gondola Ride, a chance to glide past top Venetian landmarks such as Mozart’s House as well as romantic bridges, marble Venetian palaces and hidden waterways.
Where to stay: Palazzina Veneziana is a historic residence dating back to the 1700s in the heart of Venice on the Cannaregio Canal. The neo-Gothic B&B is just a short walk away from the main event in St. Mark’s Square where visitors can celebrate New Year’s Eve in style. Opulent rooms feature plush Venetian-style furnishings, damask fabrics, parquet floors and marble bathrooms, and guests can enjoy striking sunsets from the romantic rooftop terrace. This beautiful Booking.com Travel Sustainable property even invests a certain percentage of revenue back into community and sustainability projects.
Firework Show – Valparaíso, Chile
Valparaíso is a fabulous place to go if you’re planning an end-of-year extravaganza, with over a million people all over the world flocking here annually for its epic pyrotechnic firework spectacle that once broke the world record for New Year’s fireworks. Starting at midnight, illuminations are fired from many different locations lighting up this colorful seaside city nestled in the hills. Located northwest of Chile’s capital Santiago, Valparaíso is considered the cultural capital of the country with its maze of steep alleys, vibrant houses, some of the best street art in Latin America and incredible cuisine. With 65% of travelers reporting that trying new foods motivates them to travel,* visitors won’t be disappointed with popular Chilean dishes including the crescent-shaped empanadas (a savory pastry) and asado (grilled meat). For those looking to indulge in some local delicacies, book a Gastronomic Tour in Valparaíso and learn about the food scene and its history including a visit to the iconic sustainable restaurant Barrio Huerto.
Where to stay: The hip Fauna Hotel is set in an ecological building on top of the Cerro Alegre hill in the city center. Guests can soak up spectacular views of Cerro Concepcion (one of the most visited hills in the city) and the Bay of Valparaíso from the large terraced restaurant, which is also a wonderful spot to watch the fireworks. This Booking.com Travel Sustainable property features recycled wood in all rooms and serves locally sourced food. Tranquil massage rooms are located within the hotel where guests can enjoy relaxing treatments, and a glass of cola de mono (a milky, coffee cocktail) from the onsite bar comes highly recommended.
The lively and vibrant capital of Spain is a must-do for New Year’s Eve celebrations. When the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, make sure to have a dozen grapes in hand. This is part of the nation’s unique tradition, where Spaniards eat a grape for each stroke of midnight, representing good luck for each month of the coming year. Local travelers even recommend starting New Year’s celebrations the day before, with a ‘pre-grapes’ celebration in Plaza del Sol held on the evening of December 30**. Instead of eating a grape for each stroke of midnight, people eat a candy bar – highly recommended for sweet tooths! Known for its delicious Spanish cuisine, electric nightlife, excellent art museums and enormous parks, Madrid offers activities to satisfy all visitors; it’s an amazing family destination and its inclusive atmosphere is what really makes this city shine. Travelers can gather for a traditional meal ahead of the clock tower chiming in the capital’s central square, or kick off the night with a Live Flamenco Performance with Drinks with dancers, musicians and singers, and experience a jondo performance, a vocal style of flamenco that will have everyone on their feet.
Where to stay: Set in a former 19th century palace, Palacio de los Duques Gran Meliá is situated in the heart of Madrid and just a stone’s throw away from the Royal Palace, the Royal Theater opera house and the cathedral. Guests can head to the hotel’s Thai wellness center for some serious pampering, or relax around the pool on the terrace with panoramic views of the city. With sophisticated rooms, elegant historic gardens, three fine dining restaurants and a cocktail bar, visitors can start the New Year on a high at this lavish hotel. There’s even a Velázquez theme throughout with large reproductions of the great Spanish master’s paintings.
Escape to the Bahamas this New Year’s Eve not just for the sun, sand and sea but to immerse in the wonderful Bahamian celebrations of Junkanoo. A street parade with percussive beats, exuberant dance routines and colorful costumes, it’s one of the Caribbean’s most celebrated and spirited carnivals and Bahamians across the 16 islands celebrate this joyful tradition each New Year’s Eve. Travelers can head to Freeport, the main city on the Grand Bahama, an island off the Florida coast, and gather with locals at the Port Lucaya Marketplace bandstand where the music is thumping. Visitors will be in awe of the pageantry of this street parade and its performers, all accompanied by the beat of whistles, cowbells and drums that starts after midnight and celebrates Bahamian arts and culture at its finest.
Where to stay: The luxurious adults-only Dolphin Cove apartments situated in the upmarket Williams Town part of Freeport offer an outdoor pool, onsite fine dining restaurant and a private marina. Just a short stroll from a sandy white beach, and close to the Junkanoo celebrations, guests can make the most of the local activities this Booking.com Travel Sustainable property offers including windsurfing, diving and snorkeling. After a fun-fueled night seeing in the New Year, travelers can relax on the terrace whilst enjoying beautiful marina views, cook up a storm with the onsite BBQ facilities or take a trip to Lucaya Beach where an array of restaurants and bars can be found.
*Travel Predictions 2023 research commissioned by Booking.com and conducted among a sample of adults who plan to travel for business or leisure in the next 12-24 months. In total 24,179 respondents across 32 countries and territories were polled (including 1014 from Argentina, 1006 from Australia, 505 from Austria, 504 from Belgium, 1009 from Brazil, 503 from Canada, 1009 from China, 1010 from Colombia, 505 from Croatia, 505 from Denmark, 1010 from France, 1001 from Germany, 500 from Hong Kong, 1005 from India, 504 from Ireland, 504 from Israel, 1008 from Italy, 1003 from Japan, 504 from Mexico, 502 from The Netherlands, 1007 from New Zealand, 1009 from Portugal, 507 from Singapore, 1008 from South Korea, 1001 from Spain, 505 from Sweden, 508 from Switzerland, 500 from Taiwan, 504 from Thailand, 1006 from the UK, 1009 from the US and 504 from Vietnam). Respondents completed an online survey in August 2022.
**Based on local travelers input from Booking.com’s Travel Communities who have visited the destination in the past.