Ringing in the new year is always a special occasion, no matter which country you’re in. Vow to start off your year on an exciting (and well-traveled) note by celebrating New Year’s Eve on tour—these eight cities are fail-safe bets for great festivities.
London rings in the new year with a spectacular fireworks display launched from the 135-meter-high London Eye. The fireworks can be seen from rooftops and balconies across London, but the very best views are from Westminster Bridge and the north embankment of the River Thames. The show starts just after Big Ben chimes midnight and lasts for about 15 minutes. Another more romantic option is to take a river cruise along the Thames. And after the fireworks sizzle out, London’s pubs, clubs and restaurants are open well into the night.
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Paris offers many ways to say bonne année. Around 9pm, crowds start to gather along the sides of the famous Champs-Élysées. From here, you can enjoy views of the Eiffel Tower lit up by colorful fireworks. Sacré-Coeur Basilica high atop Montmartre is another fantastic place to ring in the new year. With panoramic views of the Paris skyline, it provides an ideal vantage point for all of the fireworks launched around the city.
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Like most festivals in Italy, food plays a major role in Venice’s New Year’s Eve celebrations, known as La Festa San Silvestro. Families and friends gather together for a huge feast featuring lentils, which symbolize money and good fortune for the coming year. After dark, crowds gather in St. Mark’s Square, where the bell of St. Mark’s Campanile tolls loudly to announce the beginning of the new year. The celebration continues with a fireworks display along the waterfront.
Celebrate at this special festival on our New Year's Eve in Venice tour >
Tap your feet to music and breathe in brisk Alpine air as you watch the night sky light up with stunning fireworks in Lucerne. Visitors and locals alike gather for this sparkling spectacle, which is launched from the center of Lake Lucerne and illuminates the city’s Old Town spires and quaint cobbled streets. While private fireworks displays are set off around the city on New Year’s Eve, the big event is actually held the evening of January 1—choose any spot along the waterfront for breathtaking views.
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Madrid’s streets spring to life every New Year’s Eve, when hoards of revelers make their way to Puerta del Sol. This central square sets the ideal backdrop for the celebrations, but it’s best to arrive early to get a good spot. Watch fireworks illuminate the sky behind the 18th-century clock tower, then do as the locals do once it chimes midnight: quickly pop 12 grapes in your mouth and munch on them for luck.
Watch the fireworks light up the sky on our New Year's Eve in Madrid tour >
If you’ve made a resolution to ring in the new year in Peru, grab your yellow clothing and make your way to Lima. This capital is home to some of the country’s most festive New Year’s Eve bashes, and Peruvians believe wearing yellow while they celebrate will bring good fortune. Another quirky new year’s tradition? Carrying an empty suitcase around the block, which many believe ensures an exciting trip in the coming year.
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Want to be one of the first people in the world to ring in 2017? Head to Sydney. Every year, more than a million people gather around Sydney Harbor for the countdown, midnight fireworks and party. There are plenty of great vantage points around the harbor, but the absolute best views of the fireworks are from the water. As such, boats are in high demand on New Year’s Eve, so if you’re interested, be sure to book your place on board well in advance.
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If you want to start celebrating the new year even before 2016 comes to an end, go to Tokyo, where the celebration starts on December 29th and runs all the way through January 4th. Even though most of the major sites close down for that week, the streets of Tokyo are packed with people and the city celebrates with fireworks, dancing and singing. Join the locals and enter the new year in the traditional Japanese way: eat toshikoshi soba (a traditional New Year’s Eve noodle dish) and listen to the tolls of the Juya No Kane (the Watch-Night Bell). The long noodles symbolize a long and healthy life, while the Watch-Night Bell rings 108 times in temples all over Japan in an attempt to get rid of the 108 worldly desires.
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