With New Year’s Eve upon us it is always fascinating to see how some of the major cities around the world celebrate the dawning of a new year.
Closer to home the firework display around the Sydney Harbour Bridge is one the best displays in the world. People reserve the best vantage spots of the display very early in the day, and roof top events, boats, restaurants and hotels in The Rocks area with the best views charge premium prices on this one night of the year (and sell out way in advance). It is always handy to know someone who may have a fabulous house or apartment located in this area to bring in the new year!
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Japan celebrates New Year the way Westerners do Christmas: at home. In the run-up to December 31, many Tokyo residents leave the capital to return to their families, where tradition dictates that they spend the evening watching NHK’s Kohaku, a marathon TV show in which J-pop stars reprise the year’s most nauseating hit singles. If you’re wanting to hit the town, there’s still plenty to do, and it’s the one day of the year when the public transport keeps running all night long. The best place to be for the countdown itself is probably at Shibuya crossing, which turns into a writhing mass of humanity at midnight.
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Since the UAE capital isn’t the drinking-in-the-streets type, you’re best off ringing in the new year in the outskirts. Tour companies operates desert safaris which takes revellers out to a traditional bedouin encampment complete with barbecue buffet, belly dancers and an alcohol bar. There’s also the opportunity to ride a camel or, for faster thrills, quad bikes, with a dazzling canopy of stars virtually guaranteed come midnight.
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In Turkish culture, Yeni Yıl (New Year’s Eve) is a day traditionally spent at home with family. In recent years, however, people in Istanbul are taking to the streets – particularly Taksim Square and Bağdat Caddesi – turning the night into a citywide street celebration.
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Take to the streets and bars, many of which only open at midnight to celebrate. The best areas to visit are Nieuwmarkt and Dam Square; the latter often stages a big council concert, with Dutch acts and DJs to help keep things moving.
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Parisians tend to head home on New Year’s Eve for dinner with friends or family, but there’s always a good time to be had on the Rue Oberkampf or in the artistic, romantic Montmartre area or you can wrap up warmly and admire the cityscape by night from below the Sacré Coeur.
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If you want spectacle, then London’s South Bank is the place for you. The official New Year firework display from The London Eye and barges on the Thames is certain to be a spectacular show against a stunning backdrop, but don’t leave it too late or you may find yourself being turned away.
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In Spain, New Year’s Eve tends to be a time for family dinners, with most people emerging to party after midnight, but there is always a group of revellers to be found in Plaça Catalunya.
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Rio de Janeiro
The city may be awash with parties, but there’s only one place for the Rio New Year debutante: Copacabana Beach. The kiosks lining the sand offer expensive, all-you-can-drink tickets or grab a caipirinha from the street, blend in with the two million odd people dressed in white (peace), yellow (prosperity) or red filling the beach from late-afternoon and wait for the show. The musical line up is always a fairly well-guarded secret until closer to the day!
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Since 1907, a sparkly sphere has been lowered in Times Square, and even though the rest of the America has adopted the tradition, New York can still lay proud claim to it! At a minute to midnight, the geodesic sphere (11,875 pounds, 12 feet across and covered with 2,688 Waterford crystal triangles and 32,256 LEDs) will begin its 70-foot drop, before confetti is released into the city sky. Arrive by 2pm and be prepared to stay put: The main area (from 42nd Street to 47th Street) is usually packed by 3pm, and the rest fills up before 11pm. One of the most amusing things about NYE in Times Square is that they sell adult “nappies” as trying to get in or out of the crowds is impossible. Ewww gross!
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