10 great places to spend New Year’s Eve
(CNN) — Some of the details may change, but year in and year out, these destinations around the world have a well-deserved reputation for traditionally throwing a great New Year’s Eve shindig.
Be sure to plan early for prime parties and the best viewing areas for fireworks. Some venues charge admission, and tickets sometimes sell out months ahead.
So let the countdown begin. Here are 10 great places where you can travel for a New Year’s Eve you’ll never forget:
Sydney, Australia, is the first major international city to greet the New Year at midnight. The major fireworks display takes place at Sydney Harbour with the Opera House and Harbour Bridge providing a spectacular backdrop.
Islands in the harbor or family-friendly parks on either side offer great views.
A bonus for Sydney: Summer’s just started there, and you can also take advantage of the city’s beaches, including Manly, Bondi and Bronte.
2. Hong Kong
You might catch the dazzling display from one of Hong Kong’s many hotels with great views, including Hotel Icon and Park Lane. Crowds gather a couple of hours early at Star Ferry Pier (Tsim Sha Tsui) for some theater, dance and circus performances.
While you’re in Hong Kong, you may also want to take in Ocean Park, a favorite amusement area.
Bangkok often tops roundup lists of Asia’s best nightlife cities. So of course, it’s a natural place to ring in the new year if you like crowds, noise and revelry.
Bangkok’s answer to Times Square, CentralWorld Plaza is one of the main gathering spots for celebrations. Another popular gathering spot is the Asiatique shopping and entertainment area along the Chao Phraya River.
The Burj Khalifa in Dubai is one of the most attention-grabbing skyscrapers in the world, and it’s only more so at New Year’s Eve. Bringing in 2018, it holds the record for world’s tallest building (2,716.5 feet), and throngs gather at the footsteps to welcome a new year with an amazing fireworks show. Not too far away, Burj Plaza is a little quieter and popular with families.
Dubai is building a reputation as a major food destination, so you may wish to indulge in top-tier restaurants such as Cavalli Club Dubai while you’re there.
And if you have shopping in mind, check out Dubai Mall, one of the world’s largest.
Historic Red Square in Moscow provides one of the coldest but also one of the most visually appealing settings for a New Year’s Eve fireworks display.
If you want to celebrate in truly grand style with Russian flair, the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow may be for you. It’s centrally located and has a rooftop bar.
6. Cape Town
Cape Town is one of the most beautifully situated cities in Africa — and the world. New Year’s Eve fireworks make it all the more spectacular.
If you’re looking for a place with delicious food and a view of the festivities, check out MAReSOL, which specializes in Portuguese cuisine. If you’re in the mood for a party, Cape Point Vineyards is one of many places to consider.
Make the most of your trip by visiting South Africa’s renowned vineyards around Cape Town. (Like Sydney, Cape Town is just entering summer).
Stately London along the Thames always provides a remarkable backdrop for New Year’s Eve fireworks. Tickets sell out fast for the official staging area, but you may be able to see the fireworks for free from hilltops such as Primrose Hill, Parliament Hill on Hampstead Heath, Greenwich Park and Alexandra Palace.
One great vantage point is a river cruise on the Monsoon Clipper or other boats.
A perfect way to greet the prospect of a new year is to settle down in one of London’s oldest pubs, such as the Old Bell Tavern, serving up adult beverages since 1670. If you’re looking for a more recent vintage of fun, check out the Southbank Centre’s themed parties from the 1920s to 1990s.
While there, fans of British royalty may want to visit sites such as Kensington Palace, where Queen Victoria was born.
8. Rio de Janeiro
If you want to greet a new year with about 2 million other souls in a warm beach resort, head to Rio de Janeiro.
The Rio Times says the main gathering at Copacabana Beach will feature a variety of musical acts, including the Brazilian Symphonic Orchestra, which will play during the fireworks.
Looking for a great view? Swing over to the Vista Chinesa, a small Chinese pagoda perched to provide a fantastic panorama.
9. New York
Times Square in Manhattan. It’s synonymous with New Year’s Eve across the United States. Even if you aren’t there in person, there’s a good chance you’ve watched the famous ball drop on television. (The ball made its debut in 1907 and has been dropped each year since then, except for two years during World War II).
If you don’t feel like jamming into Times Square with around 1 million other folks, the marketing company for New York City has other suggestions:
Queens: If you’re 21 or older, try your luck at Resorts World Casino, the only casino in the city. Near JFK Airport, it throws a blow-out NYE party.
Staten Island: Toast the new year with Albanian flair at EVE Ultra Lounge, where DJs spin American and Albanian songs.
10. Las Vegas
Vegas is bright lights year-round, but it goes all out for New Year’s Eve.
The Strip is closed off to vehicles, and pedestrians take over for an unforgettable festival. At midnight, various casinos launch an impressive barrage of fireworks off the roofs of their buildings. You can book a carriage on the High Roller Ferris wheel and watch the show from there or go atop the Stratosphere Tower.
If fireworks aren’t enough to entertain you, catch New Year’s Eve shows such as David Copperfield and Blue Man Group.
Visitors are advised to book hotel rooms early, as prices in Vegas shoot up for the holiday. They’re also cautioned to dress warmly — the desert cools off a lot at night, especially in winter.