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8 Great Destinations for New Year's Eve

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Spending New Year's Eve in Times Square is great, if you like being crushed against thousands of strangers in the cold while waiting for a sparkly ball to slide down a pole. Why not ring in the new year while riding high in Las Vegas? Or at a grand ball in Vienna? Or standing on the beach with 2 million revelers in Rio?

Here are some of the best places to spend New Year's Eve: spectacular, wild and sweetly romantic.

The Best Fireworks for New Year's Eve

Not only is Sydney one of the first major cities to welcome in the new year, but it puts on some of the most spectacular New Year's Eve fireworks in the world. The first show, intended for families, takes place at 9 p.m., followed by a show at midnight.1 There are countless ways to watch the show over Sydney Harbour. You can make reservations at a restaurant with a rooftop deck or a great view, or book a harbor cruise. You can even attend the Opera Gala at the Sydney Opera House and enjoy fireworks and champagne at intermission. Just don't expect to stroll down to the water at 11 p.m.; about 1.6 million people flock to Sydney Harbour each year.2

New Year's Eve fireworks are a serious business in Dubai. In 2013, the city broke the Guinness World Record for the largest-ever fireworks display, with 479,651 shells fired in just six minutes. That's 1,332 fireworks per second.3 While Dubai isn't planning to break the record again, the New Year's Eve fireworks will be an unforgettable spectacle. Enjoy music and dance performances outside the Burj Khalifa, or simply watch the show from a luxury hotel room. For about $860 per person, Atlantis the Palm offers a beach gala with a sumptuous buffet and a 26-piece band.

The Best New Year's Eve Parties

Reveillon in Rio de Janeiro has to crown any list of the world's best New Year's Eve parties. Celebrants wearing white crowd along Copacabana Beach to enjoy live music, dancing, and a long fireworks show. They also toss flowers and small gifts into the waves as an offering to Iemanjá, a traditional goddess of fertility and motherhood. Expect to be doused with champagne at midnight! Add a bit of color to your outfit to summon good things in the new year: red for romance, yellow for success and green for health. Just don't wear black — it'll bring you bad luck — and be sure to wear closed-toe shoes to protect your feet from broken glass.4

Known as one of the best places to spend New Year's Eve in Europe, Berlin will throw an enormous open-air party to welcome the new year. About 1 million people will come to the Brandenburg Gate for light shows, live music, food, drink and fireworks.5 If you prefer more exclusive — but still wild — New Year's Eve parties, nightclubs offer multiple DJs and open bars.6

Las Vegas loves to party, and on the last day of the year, the city goes all out. If you don't want to join the rowdy crowds on the Strip, find a better view with a ticket for the world's largest observation wheel, the High Roller. New Year's Eve 2014 marked the first time the wheel was paused at midnight so that riders can watch the fireworks. Tickets start at $2,500. Party with a celebrity, like Snoop Dogg at Tao, or celebrate with a show you can't see anywhere else, like Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga at the Chelsea.7

The Most Romantic Things to Do on New Years Eve

Would you rather ring in the New Year with your sweetheart than party with a few million strangers? We don't blame you. One romantic place to spend New Year's Eve is Reykjavik, Iceland. Reykjavik residents begin the evening with family dinners and neighborhood bonfires. There aren't any official fireworks shows, but the locals do their own pyrotechnics, shooting off an estimated 500 tons of fireworks. Then, they celebrate at pubs until early in the morning.8 The next day, book a helicopter trip to see the Northern Lights.

Or consider celebrating somewhere warm, like Maui, Hawaii. Take a New Year's Eve cruise aboard the Pride of Maui (early reservations are a must) and enjoy fireworks, dancing and sinful desserts. Or attend the Drums of the Pacific Lu'au at the Maui Hyatt Regency, which explores the folklore of Hawaii through costumed dances and a fiery finale.9

Without a doubt, one of the most romantic things to do on New Year's Eve is the Hofburg Silvester Ball in Vienna. This event, held every December 31 at the Hofburg Palace, is a true Old World ball at which men don tails or a tux and ladies wear a floor-length ball gown, often with gloves. Arrive in a horse-drawn carriage and waltz the night away10.

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Dec 08, 2016