For those of you who are looking for a little adventure to finish up the year, why not consider one of these ideas for ringing in the new year? To whet your travel appetite, I’ve pulled together a list of my favourite New Year’s destinations, asked other travel bloggers for their recommendations, and added a few destinations in which I dream of one day spending New Year’s Eve!
Billed as the world’s biggest New Year’s party, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay event attracts 150,000 visitors from around the world. The year I attended (1996-1997), 400,000 people attended, earning it a place in the Guinness Book of World Records! A three-day celebration, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay includes a street party, concerts headed by internationally-renowned bands, a torchlight procession, the Loony Dook (kind of like the Canadian Polar Bear swim), the Keilidh (Scottish dancing), and more. Edinburgh transforms over Hogmanay into a gigantic street party full of festive, friendly revellers, and the whole thing is bound to leave participants exhausted and enamoured with Scottish culture and Edinburgh itself. Check out this video, created by blogger JD Andrews of EarthXplorer, for a snapshot of what New Year’s in Edinburgh is like, and then head to the official Hogmanay website to get your tickets!
The Champs-Elysées, Paris, France
Belgian travel blogger Bram Reusen recommends spending New Year’s Eve drinking champagne along the Champs-Elysées in Paris. This classic Parisian party starts around 9pm, with crowds gathering along the Champs-Elysées, angling for a good view of the Eiffel Tower, which puts on a light show at midnight.
When you’re not basking in the bright glow of Paris’ most iconic landmark, check out the nearby Christmas market, where you can warm yourself with a cheap glass of vin chaud or even indulge in the Canadian classic: poutine!
Amsterdam is known the world over for its wild ways, and New Year’s Eve is no exception; on December 31, the city turns into a rip-roaring party. As New Year’s revellers spill onto the streets, public transit shuts down early due to safety concerns (if you’ve ever had a near miss with a tram in Amsterdam, you know what I mean). Your best bet is to stay close to Dam Square, as the street parties and many clubs are within walking distance. Speaking of clubs, you’ll want to get tickets to your party of choice, or make a restaurant reservation ahead of time. If you’re not into clubs and the cold gets to you, do as we did: head back to your hotel shortly after midnight, and hope they have champagne and traditional New Year’s oliebollen, delicious, small doughnuts, on offer for guests!
Love it or hate it, New Year’s Eve on Bangkok’s budget traveller mecca, Khaosan Road, is an experience you won’t soon forget. Grab some street food, or sit at one of the many restaurants with outdoor seating and colourful lanterns, as you wait for the street party to begin. As midnight approaches, the street will become packed with travellers from around the world. Despite the free flow of alcohol, we felt quite safe when we spent New Year’s 2010/2011 on Khaosan Road. Just after midnight, try to head up onto one of the rooftops of the buildings lining the street for an excellent view of the fireworks at Thailand’s National Palace.
Looking for something a little tamer, more tasteful, or more authentically Thai? For a more authentically Thai New Year experience, you’ll have to wait around a few months: the traditional Thai New Year, or Songkran, falls in mid-April. However these days, many Thais also celebrate the western New Year, with Bangkok exploding in fireworks on the evening of December 31. Thais tend to associate the new year with a time of good luck, and many spend time at temples giving alms and asking for blessings, as well as with friends and family.
Kiribati or Samoa
Depending on how good of a year 2013 was for you, you may want to celebrate New Year’s Eve in the South Pacific nations of Kiribati or Samoa.
For those of you who are more than ready to bid the year adieu, consider Kiribati. Composed of 32 atolls and one coral island, Kiribati has the distinction of being the first country in the world to ring in the new year. Although it’s certainly likely to be a bit quieter than, say, Amsterdam or Bangkok, being one of the first in the world to ring in 2014 has its appeal.
Had a fabulous 2013, and can’t bear to see it go? Samoa has the distinction of being the last place on earth to say goodbye to the old year. Spending New Year’s Eve in Samoa means you get to enjoy every last minute of the year.
For those of you looking for adventures closer to home, major Canadian cities will of course be planning celebrations across the country. And if you’re looking to get out of the city, for a more rustic experience you could always try a cabin in the woods, like the The Travelling Mom does with her family each year!
We’d love to hear your favourite New Year’s destinations in the comments below.