New Year’s Eve celebrations and parties have become a global phenomenon. Spectacular light and sound shows, fantastic firework displays, amazing live music performances and countdown events have become commonplace, with major world cities vying to attract revelers. Here are our top choices to ring out the old and ring in the new.
Vibrant street countdown parties, extravagant fireworks by the Chao Phraya River, a magical vista of the illuminated city from luxury rooftop bars, and a romantic river cruise are some of the ways Bangkok celebrates the New Year. Ratchaprasong Shopping District, one of the most popular countdown venues, features an entertainment experience with concerts and a glitzy light and sound show. The countdown events at some glamorous riverside shopping malls are mostly accompanied by live music and amazing firework displays. A rooftop bar and restaurant is another good choice to experience the magic of New Year’s Eve in Bangkok as the lofty position provides great views of the sparkling night. If you’re seeking a more solemn way to ring in the New Year, you can join “suat mon kham pi”, the Thai version of a midnight mass, held at many temples around the city.
London is packed with New Year’s Eve celebrations and activities which you can enjoy in the day and after dark. Running from mid November to 5 January 2020, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland hosts a wide range of fun events, from an observation Ferris wheel and fairground rides to themed bars and a huge outdoor ice rink. If you are an avid ice skater, there are two other ice rinks—one in the courtyard of Somerset House and the other at the Museum of Natural History. Both have glorious backdrops of magnificent architecture.
Exploring events along the river, like the River Market at London Bridge and the Southbank Centre Winter Festival, is another exciting way to see out the year, with their unrivalled combination of festive shows and performances, homemade gifts and delicious food, and with a fantastic view of London landmarks. To enjoy the best firework displays for free, Millennium Bridge, Lambeth Bridge, Vauxhall Bridge, Southwark Bridge and Tower Bridge are prime spots, but be sure to wrap up warm and get there early.
Celebrating New Year in the City of Light undoubtedly makes for a fun and memorable experience. While countdown events are held in several places, the main centre of celebrations is surely on the Champs-Elysées. If you’re looking for somewhere more laid back yet still active, opt for the Sacré Coeur Plaza in Montmartre, where a panorama of the illuminated city is spread out below. You can explore clubs and bars or attend the New Year’s Cabaret, which is especially classic and a special treat with a surprise gift.
For a less expensive option, try a New Year’s dinner cruise, which offers the romantic ambience of the view along the River Seine. Don’t forget to grab papilottes, a chocolate confection pop for kids, and a glass of champagne for yourself to celebrate the New Year like a Parisian.
Starting before the Christmas holidays, Winter Wonders takes place in and around the Grand Palace in Brussels. Enjoy fairground attractions, an ice rink, and a 360-degree 8-minute light and sound show on the façade of the Grand Palace and the City Hall, every hour from 5 pm to 10 pm. On 31 December, however, the last show starts at 6 pm and people move to the countdown event at the Atomium area, where there are DJ sets and shows in the air before the countdown and New Year fireworks.
As Europe’s financial and commercial centre, Frankfurt has an image of a city with grim-faced bankers and businesspeople. However, on New Year’s Eve people let their hair down and spend a fun night out, partying until the early morning of New Year’s Day. Perfect settings to enjoy the dazzling fireworks include the Old Opera House, the bridges on the Main River and Römerberg Marketplace, which if you visit just before Christmas, is one of the liveliest and most beautiful Christmas Markets in Europe. Apart from parties at clubs, there are amazing events, gala shows, music performances and pop and rock concerts.
New Year’s celebrations in Japan are unique and interesting as they focus more on cultural beliefs and customs than on noisy parties. Countdown events take place at many shrines and temples, the two most popular of which are Zojo-ji Temple, a 14th century temple located next to Tokyo Tower, and Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa. People visit the temple for “hatsumode”, the traditional first visit of the year to a shrine or temple. Upon the arrival of the New Year, a monk will ring the bell 108 times in the belief that it will cleanse the 108 worldly desires.
You can also watch gorgeous firework displays on a romantic luxury cruise in Tokyo Bay, or opt for one of the exclusive parties held at posh hotels, where “Toshikoshi Soba”, a traditional New Year dish, is served after the countdown, or just stroll along the illuminated streets and soak up the atmosphere.
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