Skip to Content

The World’s Best Places to Celebrate the New Year

Celebrating New Years
The New Year in Sydney is welcomed with a subtle fireworks display (Credit: Victor Zubakin)

At some point, while traveling, you'll probably find yourself in a completely different city, if not country, for New Year's Eve.

Although the advent of the New Year is commemorated across the globe, the festivities differ from place to place, in accordance with anything from cultural beliefs, to a country's climate.

Here's the lowdown on the best places to celebrate New Years, around the world.

NYE Auckland
Fireworks erupt from Auckland's Sky Tower (credit: Louis Tan)

Auckland, New Zealand

For the last few years on social media, for reasons I don't understand, I've seen posts touting Sydney, Australia as the place to be for NYE – the “first city to ring in the New Year.”

This is incorrect. It's time to set the record straight.

New Zealand is one of the first countries in the world to welcome the New Year (two hours before the east coast of Australia), making it an ideal destination for party revelers.

The country's most populous city Auckland boasts a spectacular fireworks display, with the city's Sky Tower acting as the focal point for the show.

Auckland's Waiheke Island is also a popular destination for NYE festivities, with festivals scheduled every year.

NYE Las Vegas
Celebrations in Las Vegas (Credit: Matt Mechtley)

Las Vegas, USA

On the other end of the spectrum is Las Vegas, one of the last cities on the planet to see in the New Year.

Las Vegas is a party town 365 days a year, but the city ups the ante for this worldwide event.

The entire Strip is closed from traffic, allowing revelers to take to the streets.

There are stacks of events to choose from – parties in hotels and nightclubs and live performances across the city.

At midnight, the casinos launch a choreographed fireworks display, further illuminating the City of Lights.

NYE Tokyo
Hatsumode in Tokyo (Credit: Yoshikazu Takada)

Tokyo, Japan

The New Year in Japan takes on a far more spiritual element than in other places across the globe.

Japanese residents of Tokyo tend to leave the capital in the lead-up to the day to return to their families.

A popular tradition is to tune in to watch NHK Kohaku Utagassen – an end-of-year singing competition, which has been broadcast to the public (via radio and then TV) since 1951!

There is still plenty to do in the city itself, with public transport running all night long.

Shibuya crossing is one of the best places to see in the new year, boasting easy access to plenty of nightclubs nearby if you're in the mood for a dance or song after the countdown completes.

Alternatively, you can welcome in the new year with Hatsumode, which refers to the first visit of the year to a shrine.

After the clock ticks over, people flock to the nearest shrine to make a wish and say a prayer, often leaving a donation in their wake.

The wait to get into the shrines can be long – make sure you bundle up in your warmest clothes to fend off the cold.

NYE Dubai
The Burj Khalifa on New Year's Eve (Credit: Royalty-Free Photos)

Dubai, U.A.E.

Recently Dubai has been determined to prove itself as a top destination for New Year's Eve celebrations.

It seems the city is exceeding its goal, with a fireworks display that becomes more impressive with every passing year.

There are shows across the city kicking off with an eruption of light and color at the Burj Khalifa.

To learn more about visiting the world's tallest building, confirm the latest Burj Khalifa ticket price while planning your trip to the United Arab Emirates.

Displays follow this at Burj Al Arab and Jumeirah Beach Residence's The Beach, which lasts for a staggering twenty minutes.

Other options for the night include watching the fireworks from public beaches, taking a safari out into the desert, or indulging in a cruise with dinner and a show.

As Dubai is a Muslim city, it is illegal to drink alcohol on the streets.

There are many hotels and clubs around which are licensed to sell drinks to Westerners over 21.

NYE Berlin
The aftermath in Berlin (Credit: Onnola)

Berlin, Germany

Berlin is famous for its nightlife, and New Year's Eve is no exception.

One of the most popular places to see in the new year is at Brandenburg Gate, with a free party in the nearby Tiergarten.

On the topic of fireworks, citizens tend to take matters into their own hands. It's legal to buy and ignite German-made fireworks within the city, something residents are keen to take advantage of.

Imagine a giant party with dancing in the street, food stalls from all over the world, and an incredible light and laser show.

Don't expect to get home before dawn.

NYE Sydney
Sydney Harbor, illuminated (Credit: Norbert Trewin)

Sydney, Australia

I'll be the first to admit bias, but you can't have a list of top destinations for New Year's Eve and not include Sydney on it.

Sydney's famous harbor lends itself to a show that is regularly billed as being one of, if not the best, fireworks display in the world.

Be ready to queue up for hours to get a good vantage point on the harbor itself. I would recommend forgoing it entirely, traveling instead to neighboring Watson's Bay or Vaucluse.

There are plenty of hills on which you can gather a group of friends, bring along a champagne picnic and enjoy uninterrupted views of the harbor, all while retaining your personal space.

There are plenty of other events across the city, such as the Harbour Party at Sydney's Luna Park or camping on nearby Cockatoo Island.

The weather is beautiful – the people are happy. There's nowhere like Sydney for New Year's Eve.

Wherever you plan to ring in the new year, I hope it's a celebration to remember.

Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:

Gusto Travels

Thursday 31st of December 2015

Berlin, Germany sounds great among the list. we are in the final day of the year just few hours away from the delicious Gala dinners and party celebrations. I wish you and everybody a very happy and blessed new year.

LC Haughey

Thursday 31st of December 2015

I know a few people who are seeing in the New Year in Berlin - super jealous of them! HNY to you too.

Comments are closed.