Fun and Frivolous New Year's Eve Festivities from Around the Globe
Here in our part of the world, the New Year is welcomed with with fireworks and star-studded televised performances from networks 'til the clock strikes twelve. Other countries definitely know how to party, albeit a bit differently. Sometimes very differently.
The Scottish welcome the New Year with the Hogmanay celebration, which involves non-stop dancing on the streets and performances from artists. On January 1st, there is also a marathon that ends with diving in the freezing-cold River Forth.
Another attraction of this festival is the casting of huge fireballs into the sea. There are even times when these events are streamed live in the internet for all to see.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
There’s a reason why there are so many songs about Copacabana Beach. It’s known for their wild parties all year round, but on New Year's Eve, there’s only one rule—you have to wear white. The celebrations start with a boatload of offerings to Yemanja, goddess of the sea and patron saint of fisher folk. The vessels contain flowers, perfume, and mirrors which all signify a prayers for safe nautical journeys in the year ahead.
When the sun sets, it’s time for one of the biggest parties of the year. All the main roads in the city are closed to give way to the celebrations that last until the next morning. Millions revelers from all corners of the world flock to Copacabana Beach for the New Year’s Eve party that locals call the Reveillon.
As one of the first places to welcome the new year, Sydney feels the pressure to pave the way for an awesome NYE party. The annual waterfront show at Sydney Harbor, which starts by 5 p.m., usually brings in around 1.5 million spectators from around the world. Aside from the usual breathtaking midnight fireworks display, the Australians also practice a traditional Aboriginal smoking ceremony to drive away bad spirits.
While the rest of the world may be satisfied with mere fireworks, Hong Kong turns it up a notch by combining their New Year’s Eve celebrations with a pyrotechnic extravaganza. This year will be extra special because it’s the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Administrative Region. Victoria Harbor will be lit up with a 10-minute musical fireworks display and pyrotechnic compilation of fireworks, in synchrony with a soundtrack produced by world-renowned music director Chiu Tsang Hei.
All Berliners know the “Party Mile,” a roughly two-kilometer road that runs between Brandenbury Gate and Victory Column. At New Year the Party Mile comes alive with bars, international food stalls, laser shows, video screens, party tents, music stages, and more.
Aside from what seems like non-stop partying and bar hopping, locals also partake in four-kilometer marathons during the day and a pancake race, in which runners flip flapjacks as they head towards the finish line.
A grand ball awaits in one of the most cultured cities in the world. It’s usually hosted at Hofburg Palace and the opulent celebration is capped off the next morning when crowds gather outside the City Hall to listen to Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s concert on a giant screen.
Wine flows freely and parties usually start as early as 2 p.m. Fireworks appear over over the Wiener Prater fair as Christmas markets transform into New Year’s fair grounds.
New York vs. Florida, United States of America
The iconic ball drop in New York’s Times Square is a sight that never fails to amaze revelers during New Year’s Eve. The 12-foot-wide crystal ball which weighs around 12,000 lbs. descends
from One Times Square to usher in a brand new year. It is often compared to Florida’s counterpart tradition, the “Big Orange.” It is also similar to Georgia’s Peach Drop, which celebrates the state’s biggest fruit export. The 35-foot ball is usually hoisted outside the Hotel Intercontinental and lowered at midnight to welcome the upcoming year.