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10 New Year’s Eve Destinations. 10 Unique Rituals

New Year’s Eve is probably the biggest global party and the idea of spending it in some other country excites everyone from North Pole to South Pole from East to West.

So what is your New Year’s Eve destination? What will you wear – a nice dress, a suit, your best pair of shoes? And what about your underwear?

Well, you wouldn’t raise an eyebrow at this question if you were living in Latin America or any Spanish speaking country. People here don brightly coloured underpants to ring in the New Year—red if you’re looking for love, and yellow for money.

Across the world, revelers celebrate the New Year’s Eve in similar fashion: fireworks and parties. Still, each destination has its unique rituals. Some walk around with suitcases in their houses at midnight, some eat a spoonful of lentils, some eat 12 grapes for 12 wishes for 12 months, some wear white clothes, some throw away their old stuff at neighbours, some predict future with molten lead, some chime a bell 108 times to welcome New Year God, some send hundreds of paper lanterns up into the night sky. The list is endless.

So as you get ready for your New Year’s Eve party, here is a list of 10 most amazing New Year’s Eve destinations and unique rituals attached to those places

1. Tokyo, Japan

Japan is the first place to welcome the New Year. In Tokyo, festivities start as early as the 29th, with spectacular fireworks displays every night until the 4th Jan. Two great party areas are Shinjuku and Shibuya. New Year’s Eve celebration in Tokyo is both a time of family events as well as lively nightlife experiences. ‘Bonenkai’ (forget the old year) parties are held in December to bid adieu to past problems. A popular ritual called “Hatsumode” is followed where locals visit temples for the first time in the year. Once a temple bell rings 108 times at midnight, the crowds begin to celebrate the arrival of the New Year.

2. Sydney, Australia

Sydney has earned a reputation of the New Year’s Eve Capital of the world, thanks to the spectacular fireworks at Sydney Harbour. For a day, Sydney becomes the melting pot for travellers across the world. Revelers start filling up the Opera House forecourt and every inch of open space around the harbour from early morning. The formalities officially kick off at 6pm, with an aerial show. At 9pm the family fireworks amaze the kiddies. The main attraction at midnight, the Harbour Light Parade, has made the city famous as a New Year’s Eve destination. This is one show for which preparations start two years in advance. In Sydney, the entire January is dedicated to New Year Celebration – fireworks are held every Saturday at Darling Harbour. Sydney New Years Eve.

3. Reykjavik, Iceland

New Year’s Eve celebration in Reykjavik is unforgettable – a show of fire and ice. Fireworks are quite magnificent but what makes this place unique is – The Northern Lights. Every year global travellers and locals combat polar cold to view this natural phenomenon. The Mars-like landscape of Reykjavik creates a breathtaking backdrop for the lights. New Year’s Eve is a prime time to see Northern lights and this is the only time of the year when fireworks are allowed. Locals have family dinners, attend the local bonfire, watch annual TV show and at midnight entire population indulges into fireworks. But Iceland is not for the faint-hearted. Go only, if you can bear extreme cold. Reykjavik New Years Eve.

4. Berlin, Germany

Thanks to the Oktoberfest, Berlin has earned a worldwide tag of a party city and it doesn’t disappoint you on New Year’s Eve. Germans have a tradition of participating in the annual pancake race – Berliner Silvesterlauf. Locals run in fancy dress for 2 to 15 kms, flipping pancakes all the way. In the evening, Berlin’s biggest party takes place at the Brandenburg Gate. The 2 kms stretch between the Victory Column and Brandenburg Gate is the place to celebrate Silvester (New Year’s Eve in German). Berlin New Years Eve.

5. Barcelona, Spai

The Spanish eat twelve grapes at midnight, one grape for each chime of the clock. Symbolic of twelve wishes for the twelve months of the year. Eating twelve grapes at midnight and wearing red underwear on New Year’s Eve is said to bring good luck. People gather in town squares eating grapes together, drinking cava (Spanish champagne) and waiting to welcome the New Year. New Years time is a family get together time.

6. Vienna, Austria

New Years Eve in Vienna is about music, mulled wine, balls, parties and traditions. The Silvesterpfad (‘New Year’s Eve Path’), an annual grand street party, is the main event. The event lines up several free open air concerts where you can listen to everything from folk music, waltz and operetta to pop and rock tunes. Vienna’s best classical orchestras like the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the Vienna Symphonic Orchestra perform New Years Eve concerts. At midnight people kiss one another and feast on suckling pigs, which are a symbol of good luck. Future predictions are made by reading the shapes formed by pouring molten lead into water.

7. London, England

London is a place that takes pride marrying modernity with tradition. And the same is reflected in its New Year’s Eve celebrations too. A three-hour extravaganza along the River Thames comprises of performances by thousands of artists, a fireworks show at the London Eye, a midnight countdown alongside the chiming of Big Ben, and a massive group sing-along to “Auld Lang Syne.” Till last year this was a non-ticketed event but this year for the first time the event has been ticketed to prevent overcrowding, and tickets cost £10.

8. Edinburgh, Scotland

Sub zero temperature cannot tone down the enthusiasm of Scots to celebrate the New Year. The ‘Hogmanay’ celebration lasts four days and includes a torchlight parade through the city, concerts, and a massive street party on Princes Street. Scotsman Robert Burns wrote “Auld Lang Syne”, and it is a tradition to sing it on the streets of Edinburgh holding glowing torchlights. ‘Midnight Moment’, the world famous fireworks light up the skies above Edinburgh from the iconic Edinburgh Castle and Calton Hill. The Scots follow the tradition of “first-footing,” in which the first guest of the New Year should bring gifts.

9. New York, USA

Since 1907, the famous ‘ball drop’ – in which a 12-foot-wide crystal ball weighing nearly 12,000 pounds descends atop Times Square on New Year’s Eve. The Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration features star-studded musical performances, balloons, confetti and a colorful pyrotechnic display. Every year, visitors from around the globe write their wishes for the New Year on colorful pieces of official Times Square New Year’s Eve confetti. These wishes are posted on the New Year’s Eve Wishing Wall called “Hopes and Dreams”. New York New Years Eve.

10. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio is the place for the partygoers who love to dance with the sea waves in the summertime of southern hemisphere. The fantastic fireworks are held at the Copacabana Beach. People attending the event come dressed in white and bring flowers, which they throw in the water as a ritual offering to the sea goddess. Champagne literally flows like water. Eating grapes and lentils are considered good luck rituals. Rio De Janeiro New Years Eve.

There are many more interesting and strange New Year’s Eve rituals like in Ireland Maids place mistletoe under the pillow to find future husbands. In Denmark Dishes and crockery are broken against neighbours’ doors; the bigger the debris, the greater the luck. In PhilippinesMost people wear polka dots and eat round shaped foods for good luck. In Ecuador Scarecrows made of wood and newspaper bits are burnt to destroy the past and bring in the new. In Chile New Year is rung in with the dead. People head to the cemetery and start the year at the graves of their departed ones.

So next time when you visit a different country for NYE do follow the rituals of that place. Be rest assured you’d make some amazing new friends.

A very happy new year!

Travel. See. Write.

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Hi, I am Archana Singh, originally from India but currently based out of Philippines. A solo Traveler who is neither a backpacker nor spoiled for luxury. I am just an inquisitive and impulsive Traveler. My travel plans are usually fluid and takes me to offbeat places. When I am not traveling or sharing my experiences on, I am doing Brand Management.

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