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  • Pamela Froman

New Year's Eve A World Celebration 2015


Out with the old, in with the new.

The New Year is a fresh start, a new beginning. So of course we want to welcome the holiday with spirit. Here in the U.S there are many celebrations, usually with fireworks and champagne. But New Years is celebrated throughout the world, and some countries put their own special spin on it.

Some customs are:

In São Paulo, La Paz, people wear brilliantly colored underwear to ring in the New Year with a message. Red symbolizes love, and yellow money. In the Philippines, dressing in polka dots and eating round fruits casts onto a propitious new year; while in Spain, scarfing down grapes at midnight brings prosperity.

In some countries, New Years is all about getting rid of the negativity of the past year, so that a fresh start can be made. Fire is often used in such festivals, such as the Scottish festival of Hogmanay where villagers swing huge blazing torches as they take to the streets. In Panama, effigies of the famous (muñecos) are burned while the Danish have a tradition to jump off chairs at the stroke of midnight. Talk about taking a leap of faith!

New York


Each year as midnight approaches on December 31st all eyes turn to the Big Apple – and the dazzle of Times Square. This New Years celebration has become a symbol for the world as the year comes to a close. The world watches and waits – and cheers as the ball drops.

The ball drop atop One Times Square dates back to 1906. Starting at 11:59 p.m. (Eastern time) spectators join together to countdown to the new year. There are an estimated one million people in Times Square, millions nationwide and over a billion watching throughout the world.

Of course New York also plays host to hundreds of New Year's Eve parties. There are a plethora of events available. Ring in the new year at a super-sized party at one of NYC’s bars or clubs, or at the massive multi-level party superstructure know as Webster Hall. There is a celebration for every budget and party-goer.

If you do head to One Times Square you will hang out with an estimated one million partiers and watch the Ball descend. This is truly a once in a lifetime experience. And once you arrive in Times Square, make sure to visit the New Year’s Wishing Well. Every year people include their wishes for the new year on pieces of official Times Square New Year’s Eve confetti. These wishes are added to the one ton of confetti that flutters down at midnight onto the crowd. www.newyearseve.nyc/nyc/wishing-wall/index.aspx

London, England


London is one of the most visited and preferred holiday destinations for celebrating New Year’s Eve. The parties and events within the city are some of the most happening and interesting in the whole world.

London's New Years Eve lights the sky with its stupendous fireworks show. The beauty is intensified as the lights are reflected on the famous transparent Thames river. This experience cannot be explained in words. The most important and famous vantage points to see the stunning show are at the north of the Thames and the Victoria Embankment and also the bridges such as Waterloo, the eastern Jubilee footbridge and the Westminster. Another famous view point is the Millennium Bridge, but it has a smaller view point.

Of course another way to enjoy New Year’s Eve in London is at the many bars, pubs and clubs that dot the city.

The Royal Festival Party presents “Vintage New Year's Eve.” Hosted at the Southbank Centre, the fete is an amazing scene with live music, DJs, dance, dining, period cocktails and fireworks making sure to celebrate London's New Year in style. Southbank Centre transforms into five floors of pop-up Vintage nightclubs, stylish dining, a hair and beauty parlor, photo studios and a private terrace with a stupendous view of the Thames. The Clore Ballroom transforms into The Torch Club with an evening of 1930s and 1940s amusement. 1950s rock 'n' roll bands and DJs play rock that won't stop and professional dancers keep the party going with jive and stroll lessons. The Soul Casino dance floor gets funky with classic soul, disco, and authentic R&B. The Pick-Up Joint
gets your groove on with pop hits in a kitsch themed bar for singles, couples or groups of friends ready for anything. Rise up to the 4th floor of Royal Festival Hall in the Lift of Love, and lose your inhibitions. The Tiki Bar
lets you twist your heart out while looking out over the River Thames with the grooviest 1960s pop party out there. And the Warehouse
is a space paying tribute to Britain’s dance culture and the unique fashions, performance art and eclectic music that soundtracked the 1980s warehouse scene. Tickets
Standard Ticket (no dining): Early bird: £97.50; Standard party ticket: £117.50; Dining Tickets:
Ticket includes a three-course meal (drinks not included) and entry to the party. Early bird party ticket + £75 dinner = £172.50
£117.50 party ticket + £75 dinner = £192.50 www.southbankcentre.co.uk

New Year's Eve cruises on the Thames are one of the best places to be at midnight and offer an unparalleled view of the fireworks. There are packages to suit any budget.

The New Year's Eve Gala Dinner Cruise is a five hour Thames river cruise on a City Cruises RiverLiner (£299 per person) and includes a welcome drink, four-course dinner, wine and water, a live band and dancing, a glass of champagne at midnight. Departs from Tower pier at 8.15 p.m. and returns to Tower pier at 1.15 a.m. The New Year's Eve Dinner Cruise (£259 per person) is best suited to groups, with a minimum booking of ten people. The ticket includes a welcome drink, four-course dinner, champagne at midnight. Shared seating at tables of up to 10. Departs from Tower pier at 9 p.m. and returns to Tower pier at 2 a.m. The New Year's Eve Riverparty (VIP Booth £1600 - a reserved area with a dedicated hostess for 8 adults) includes a four hour Disco cruise, champagne and canapés on arrival, Live DJ playing Old Skool, Belvedere Vodka and mixers and a free shot and champagne at midnight. Departs from Tower pier at 10 p.m. and returns to Tower pier at 2 a.m. www.citycruises.com

The Shard is the tallest building in the European Union. This glass-clad pyramidal tower has 72 floors, with a viewing gallery and open-air observation deck. This year you can bring in the New Year while enjoying the 360 degree panoramic views when London is lit up by fireworks at the stroke of midnight. Each ticket includes canapes, bowl food, a welcome cocktail, beer and wine, and DJ sets throughout the night. As midnight chimes, you can toast the New Year with a glass of complimentary champagne. www.the-shard.com

Beijing, China


Xin Nian kuaile! (‘Happy New Year!’) The Chinese New Year, is also known as the Spring Festival or Chun Jie, is the most celebrated holiday of the year in Beijing. It's a great time to visit and immerse yourself in local customs and culture. Beijing has years of traditions and ceremonies to promote health and happiness in the new year. The Chinese celebrate with a New Year's Eve meal and perform temple ceremonies. Modern Chinese also party at the Great Wall, at bars, or within themed festivals.

Most Beijing residents start the celebration by eating the time-honored New Year's Eve family dinner. People make their houses spic and span and wear their best finery. Red decorations, which express wishes for good fortune, prosperity, and well being in the coming year are prevalent. The color red is also said to banish harmful spirits. People paste red slogans or poems and pictures of gods on their doors to guard themselves, and they hang red lanterns. In North China, people also paste paper animals and plants in windows. These stand for a special wish.

After dinner many people set fireworks and watch the fireworks display over the capital. The noisier the better as the commotion is thought to scare away evil spirits. After the fireworks, it is traditional in Beijing to eat dumplings, called jiaozi, to indicate prosperity.

If you are visiting China, a great way to experience New Years is at local bars. For the true Chunjie experience, visit Houhai Lake, located in the city center. Houhai offers traditional charm and beauty. There are tons of bars along the lake to help you party in local style. Book a dinner reservation at 4Corners Bar. They have a set dinner menu, with one of the best parties in town featuring reggae and dubstep music. At midnight, 4Corners puts on a fireworks display of their own. Other bars include Huxley's, Azucar, Zoom, Drum & Bell or just let the fun guide you. The Sanlitun bar district is full of parties and deals for New Years Eve. Brussels Bar, located off Sanlitun South Street, offers all-you-can-drink cocktails and Tiger Beer, with a unique fireworks show at midnight.

Why not party on China's own world wonder? Visit the Brickyard, at the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. Stay in one of their sumptuous rooms and let relaxation overtake you. Hike the wall during the day and then eat a time-honored hotpot dinner which is said to bring good luck! Learn to cook (and eat) a traditional dumpling and then enjoy a stupendous New Year's fireworks show.

Paris, France


If you’re lucky enough to ring in New Years Eve in Paris, the City of Light, you are sure to have an amazing time. In Paris, New Years is an awe-inspiring and much favored celebration thanks to the outstanding eateries and partying scene, historical landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the beautiful Louvre museum.

There is are endless options to celebrate in Paris, whether you prefer dancing the night away, eating prime Parisian dishes, or simply sipping a glass of champagne.

Drinking champagne or sparkling white wine is the norm on New Year's Eve in Paris. Vin chaud (hot wine) and cider are also popular. A special New Years Paris treat is papillottes, which are chocolates or other confections that pop Ala firecrackers when opened.

Many people celebrate with store bought firecrackers which are legal to buy in Paris. However the big light shows are centered around the renowned Champs-Elysées and Eiffel Tower areas of the city. Rather than a simple firecracker event, the Eiffel Tower is lit up in a stunning display. The Champs-Elysées, starting around 9 p.m. The Champs-Elysées is a prime location to view the Eiffel Tower's dazzling lights at midnight and offers a wide variety of dining and dancing.

For a unique way to celebrate the New Year, book a Seine River dinner cruise, which is truly a romantic occasion, as well as guaranteeing the best views of the city. Bateaux Parisiens New Year's dinner cruise includes music, and a bottle of champagne. Yachts de Paris New Year's Eve dinner cruises lasts for two hours, and includes an aperitif, dessert, and coffee, as well as views of Notre Dame Cathedral, Tuileries Gardens, and Concorde.
+33 (0)144 541 470 www.viator.com/paris-cruises

Paris is known for it's delicious foods and New Years is no exception. A stupendous feast, called le Réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre is an annual tradition. There are many locations throughout the city where you can enjoy a great meal or sip a glass of champagne. At Montmartre’s Sacre Coeur plaza you can experience the beauty of the Paris skyline. Montmarte celebrations are more laid back than those of the Champs-Elysees on New Years but it is far from boring. There are many nightclubs, cafes and restaurants located there.

A cabaret show is another uniquely Parisian way to celebrate. Happy Day's Paris is a plethora of music ranging from the sixties to soul. Your voice will go hoarse during a live session beautifully interpreted by a group led by talented and beautiful singers. After midnight, dance to the biggest disco hits of the 80’s until dawn. http://www.cometoparis.com/catalog/new-years-eve-happy-days-8

Moulin Rouge New Years gives you an amazing and magical New Year's Eve experience.
A dinner dance with an orchestra starts at 9 p.m. with a high-quality menu made by Maison Dalloyau, accompanied by one Cristal Roederer bottle of Champagne per person. After the twelve rings of the bell, the Féerie show will start, and then be followed by a dancing night with a DJ. What a show! http://www.cometoparis.com/catalog/new-years-eve-moulin-rouge-paris-1101

Rome, Italy


Italians love a good party, and New Years “il capodanno” is a great excuse. A traditional festival, La Festa di San Silvestro is celebrated December 31. Food is abundant and plentiful. Who doesn't love some yummy Italian dishes? Families and friends get together for this traditional dinner. Lentils, symbolizing money and good fortune for the coming year are the star of the meal but can also include a cotechino, a large spiced sausage, or a zampone, stuffed pig's trotter. Pork symbolizes the richness of life in the coming year.

The New Year is also observed with spumante or prosecco, Italian sparkling wine. Parties can last until sunrise to see the first rays dawning of the newborn year. Another custom that is unique to Italy is to throw old items out the window to symbolize out with the old in with the new! Watch out if you're out on the town near midnight! And if you wear red underwear under your party clothes it's good luck.

There are free concerts all over Rome on New Year’s Eve, usually completed with a fireworks display at midnight. The favorite spot is the Piazza del Popolo. Performances start at 10 p.m., and the whole piazza is full of people partying and celebrating the end of another year. Another public and free concert is located near the Piazza Venezia and the Roman Forum on the Via dei Fori Imperiali. This also starts around 10 p.m. and features popular Italian musicians. Both venues can be crowded, so if want to be near the stage arrive early. And dress warmly, Rome in December can be chilly.

New Year’s Eve events in Rome also include a free classical concert at the Piazza del Quirinale, which the Italian President usually attends (Quirinale is the Italian President’s official residence), and there’s also usually a New Year’s Eve theatre show at the Auditorium Conciliazione. Night clubs in Rome turn up the music and light shows all over the city.

Concerts in the city center all feature a fireworks display at midnight so if you’ve got a good vantage point overlooking the city you will be treated to a great show.There are also plenty of explosives being set off by families celebrating on their own – so watch out when you’re walking around.

Tokyo, Japan


The Japanese invented fireworks, and they make use of the beauty and excitement of the visual display to celebrate New Years Eve in the capital city of Tokyo. This traditional fireworks show can be viewed for miles across the legendary Tokyo Bay. There are also plenty of New Years parties to keep you entertained.

New Year in Japanese is called Shogatsu, and it most fun times of the year to visit. A popular tradition in Japan is “Hatsumode” where people visit temples or shrines.A temple bell rings at midnight (108 times), and the crowds begin to celebrate. New Years in Japan is a time for people to reflect on the past year as well as have fun with a variety of lively nightlife experiences. And the food is incredible. Tokyo has a wonderful variety of restaurants, serving an amazing assortment of cuisine.

Two great areas to shake it New Year's style are Shinjuku and Shibuya. These neighborhoods are within walking distance from three train stations. The popular Shinjuku Ni-chome has a variety of nightclubs, bars, cafes, restaurants, saunas and more. Shibuya has a huge TV screen (featured in the movie Lost in Translation) as well as multi-directional crosswalk. It’s the ultimate destination for night clubs, Japanese cuisine, shopping and more.

The Tokyo Sky Tree is an amazing place to witness the Tokyo Bay fireworks. The tower includes a restaurant, observation deck and Tembo Galleria Skywalk which provides unmatched panoramic views of the city from all sides.

Hawaii


What better place to welcome the New Year than Hawaii? Spend the day swimming among the waves or lying on a pristine beach, sipping a margarita. Then as evening approaches watch the fireworks, enjoy yummy foods and party until the sun comes up.

One of the biggest events is at the Kakaako Waterfront Park. There are carnival rides, live entertainment, tons of food trucks, a beer garden, and a magnificent fireworks display at midnight. A bevy of music from the areas top bands will make you sing and dance. And at Kakaako’s cocktail bar, Bevy, you can dance the night away as talented Djs spin tunes.

The Waterfront Plaza’s M Nightclub is holding a block party. There will be music brought to you by six assorted DJs, and at midnight watch a balloon drop and enjoy a complimentary champagne toast.

The Modern Honolulu turns into a rocking dance fete thanks to terrific local DJs and the Jawaiian Irie Jerk’s “NYE Splash” an annual reggae party that includes an international buffet, live music, belly dancers, party favors and more.

If you want a more chill New Years, take a cruise with Atlantis Navatek and enjoy the unparalleled views of the fireworks off of Waikiki Beach and Ala Moana. Cruise packages run around $200 and include local cuisine, desserts, party favors, dancing and champagne. http://www.atlantisadventures.com

Sydney, Australia


New Year's Eve is the night when Sydney lights up, kicks off its heels and shows the world what a beautiful place it is, as a festival of fire bursts across the midnight sky. Sydney is one of the most impressive places in the world to celebrate New Year's Eve. Fireworks shimmering over the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge will spellbind you.

Sydney Harbor is the main viewpoint where you can watch the show that barges from different points around the harbor. Sydney occupies a unique location and is one of first cities to celebrate New Years around the world.

The 9 p.m. and midnight fireworks shows are a huge attraction. The first show is meant for children and families. These fireworks are a bright performance which lasts for eight minutes. The fireworks barge from the harbor and aim at the tallest buildings of the city and the harbor. The program concludes with a parade. The parade includes fifty vessels illuminated and decorated with lights. These vessels sail around the harbor and its border.

Sydney definitely knows how to host a New Year's Eve party. Local hotels offer festive New Year's Eve entertainment. At The Star, celebrate with panoramic harbor views of the fireworks. The Star's stylish bars – Sokyo Lounge and Cherry – have DJs, cocktails, and a cool atmosphere. Balla, Rock Lily and 24/7 Sports Bar are also great places to party the night away. If you are jonesing for a sophisticated atmosphere, enjoy a degustation menu by the water at The Star's Black by Ezard. www.star.com.au

At Pier One Sydney Harbor in Walsh Bay, enjoy an evening of indulgence with a beautifully prepared four-course menu to celebrate New Year’s Eve and welcome Sydney’s new exclusive restaurant The Gantry. The Gantry opens out onto the pier with views of Walsh Bay and provides the perfect setting to view the spectacular Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks display. http://www.pieronesydneyharbour.com.au

The Park Hyatt has something for everyone. Elegantly located on the waterfront with uninterrupted views of the Sydney Opera House, this contemporary harborside residence provides the perfect recipe for an unforgettable New Year’s Eve celebration. Choose a three-course family dinner, an indulgent five-course menu or dance the evening away at the rooftop cocktail party. sydney.park.hyatt.com

Make this your most glamorous and memorable New Year ever. At the Sydney Opera House you will have ringside seats to the greatest fireworks show on earth. Be entertained at the Opera Gala, featuring favorites by Verdi, Puccini, Rossini and more. Then, with a heart full of song, watch the fireworks. Interval is timed for the 9 p.m. fireworks and the Sydney Opera House stays open well past the midnight fireworks. There’s nowhere in the world like Sydney on New Year’s Eve and there’s nowhere closer to the action than Sydney Opera House. http://www.sydneyoperahouse.com

Celebrate your new year on the water with a cruise in Sydney Harbor. New Year’s Eve cruises in Sydney will provide you with some spectacular memories. No city in the world does New Year’s Eve better than Sydney, with fantastic fireworks, events and a great vibe all centering around the harbor. Good Time Harbour Cruises are taking part in the City of Sydney Harbour Light Parade and put you right in the action. Each craft in this illuminated flotilla of over 40 boats will be dressed in orange-colored rope light to create a consistent, vibrant color wash as they move through the night. Following the completion of the parade route the finalists assemble in Sydney Cove between Dawes Point and the Sydney Opera House where they will have a premium view of the fireworks and the Sydney Harbor Bridge Effect. The Sydney New Year’s Eve Cruise All-inclusive Package will ensure this will be a time to remember. Enjoy great food, great entertainment (DJ & Light Show), drinks and alcohol from a fully stocked bar all for a fixed price. www.goodtimeharbourcruises.com.au

If want to watch the fireworks at the harbor then go for the Vantage points. There are around fifty five vantage locations which allow for a full view of the show. Most of these points are located near the harbor. Popular vantage points are Gladesville (located near the Sydney Harbor), Cockatoo Island and Pont Piper.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


New Year’s is a time of rebirth. A time to set the past behind and look towards the future. In Brazil, the tradition for people to do this is by wearing white. Other traditions include dipping into the ocean or throwing flowers and small mementos into the surf with the belief. If they don't come back, your wish or prayer is supposed to be granted.

In Rio, the main event is on Copacabana beach. This is the supreme party, though there are other festivities on Ipanema, Barra, and Flamengo beaches. Copacabana beach is the site of a monumental fireworks display at midnight. The fireworks are launched from various barges in the ocean.

So how can you celebrate New Year's in Rio? The first way is to stand on the beach and enjoy the show. It will be warm, possibly rainy, and you will be crowded among the other spectators. Vendors with coolers sell drinks all over the beach. Getting a room with an ocean view at a beach front hotel and watch from your balcony is another option. Order room service dinner and enjoy the show in the comfort of your room.

Beach front hotels host parties and events for New Year’s Eve. As they don't require a hotel stay to go to one of the parties, anyone can go. The Belmond Copacabana Palace, Rio de Janeiro's most famous luxury hotel, has a long tradition in Réveillon parties. The view of the celebrations and fireworks in Copacabana, live music, outstanding food and the ambiance of the grand rooms and fine restaurants are some of the reasons to celebrate New Year's Eve 2015 at this Belmond hotel.

The festivities are open to non-guests and not included in the five-night holiday packages, which have different starting dates. The dress for all the events is white or casual smart.

The main party, held in the magnificent Function Rooms, involves a buffet dinner by chef Pierre Petit at shared tables for 10 or 12 guests, live music and, at midnight, the Copacabana beach fireworks enjoyed from the Noble Room veranda. The cost is R$3,112 per person, plus a 10% tax. The hotel also hosts dinner with tasting menus by chef Luca Orini at the Cipriani (international cuisine) and Pergula (Italian cuisine) and a tasting menu by chef Rafael Hidaka at the Mee, all with drinks included and access to the Pergula for firework watching at midnight. At the Cipriani and Pergula, there will be live piano music. The price per person is R$2,200 at the Pergula and the Mee and R$2,300 at the Cipriani, plus 10% tax.

Five-night packages in rooms facing the ocean and beach celebrations range from R$24,000 to R$49,875. The hotel also has suites with side views of the ocean (R$16,000 to R$16,650). There are 15% taxes on top of that. www.belmond.com/copacabana-palace-rio-de-janeiro

Feliz Ano Novo!

Prague, Czechoslovakia


Prague is a super fun destination for New Year's Eve. There is entertainment for everyone. Eateries offer an all-inclusive night of yummy food, drinks and dancing. Romantic, candlelit dinners bring in the new year in a more intimate setting. Partying in a club or bar lets you say happy new year with a crowd of your new best friends. Get out and wander around Old Town, the former Jewish Ghetto, and the bubbly Christmas Markets where time-honored Czech treats wait for you to taste them. Step among the stately buildings of this city known for its gorgeous architecture.

Good fun is guaranteed at the enormous party for several thousand modern music lovers on the Prague Exhibition Grounds. But if you are in the mood for something more relaxed, you might visit one of the New Year’s concerts at Rudolfinum or Municipal House, or even go to mass in some of Prague’s splendid churches. Finally, there are also popular Party Boats with all-inclusive drink and food menus.

Many of Prague's famed sights border the river and guests will experience unequalled views of the city lit up against the night sky. Attractions include: Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, Prague Parliament, Malá Strana, the National Theatre and Vysehrad Fortress.

The Jazz Cruise through Prague is a wonderful New Year's Eve river cruise, with entertainment provided by an amazing band. As the evening gets underway, a scrumptious buffet dinner is laid out for you to eat. The bar on board offers beers, wines, and spirits. While you eat and take in the sights, a jazz band plays music to entertain you while you dine. As the night moves forward, people take to the dance floor. Approaching midnight you will cruise towards Charles Bridge, where you can to watch the fireworks over the city on deck, with a unique vantage point. http://www.pragueexperience.com

If you wish to mingle with party crowds and get a more ‘spirited’ feel, head directly to the Old Town Square where people await New Year’s approach. The squares are for the adventurous! As the atmosphere builds, the masses gather. Then, at the stroke of midnight the fireworks abound! Czechs love setting off fireworks, and although there are aerial fireworks, many are handheld and fired off by the crowd.

Whatever your choice, Prague is a terrific city for a New Year's Eve party.

Happy New Year!

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