Ringing in and celebrating the beginning of a new year is a tradition celebrated in nearly every culture around the world, even when the holiday falls on a different calendar or at a different time of year. There's something about the idea of a new beginning that makes people want to take note and celebrate.
But where is the BEST place in the world to spend December 31 - January 1 this year?
Many cities have huge celebrations, with parades and fireworks and music, but here are the top three in my opinion:
Why it would be awesome: Everybody can picture Times Square packed with people and celebrities as the famous sparkling ball drops at the stroke of midnight. The NYC Ball Drop is a tradition that has been going on for more than 100 years, and it's certainly one of the most famous New Year's Eve celebrations in the world. Nearly one million people pack Times Square for the spectacle each year, and millions more watch as it's broadcast around the world. Add the Ball Drop to the concerts, confetti, and general atmosphere, and you'd be sure to have a memorable night.
The downsides: Besides the fact that it can be freezing cold in NYC in December... With one million people packing into Times Square, you can imagine that it can get incredibly cramped. You have to camp out for quite a while to get a good spot. And if you have to use the restroom? Well, good luck. I've heard stories of people not drinking for an entire day, or wearing diapers to the event just to avoid long porta-loo lines and/or losing their spots.
Why it would be awesome: With spectacular fireworks bursting above iconic landmarks like the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, photos from Sydney's New Year celebrations, some of the first in the world thanks to the city's location near the International Date Line, are always some of my favorites. You can watch the show (voted one of the best in the world) from all along the Sydney waterfront, and the celebration takes place in Australia's summertime, too, meaning you can picnic while you wait.
The downsides: Like in NYC, Sydney's New Year's Eve celebration draws a ton of people each year, upwards of one million sometimes. This means you need to claim your spot early in the day, and be prepared to sit around and wait for midnight. Competition is tough for the best viewing points.
Why it would be awesome: While Scotland's capital celebrates on a much smaller scale than New York or Sydney, Edinburgh's Hogmanay nevertheless deserves a spot on this list. The midnight moment itself is marked by fireworks bursting over Edinburgh Castle, followed by a rousing rendition of Auld Lang Syne (it was written by a Scottish poet, did you know?). But Hogmanay is about much more than just midnight. It's actually a celebration that lasts for up to three days. It begins with the Torchlight Procession on December 30, when thousands of people carry flaming torches through the streets of Edinburgh in an old Viking tradition. This is followed by the main event on December 31, which includes a massive street party, ceilidh dancing, concerts, and of course fireworks. The celebrations continue on January 1 with the Loony Dook, when people in costumes jump into the freezing River Forth.
The downsides: Have you ever tried to party for three days straight? It's incredibly tiring. Throw in Scotland's notoriously moody and wet winter weather, and you could be in for a long few days.
Which of these NYE celebrations would YOU most like to take part in?
Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.
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Graduate student by day and avid traveler and blogger by night (and on weekends and during holidays), Amanda is just a small-town Ohio girl trying to balance a "normal" life with a desire to discover the world beyond her Midwest bubble. Amanda's adventurous nature and inability to say "no" have led her to some pretty amazing adventures all around the world. But she has no desire to stop exploring anytime soon. Read Amanda's blog, A Dangerous Business, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus.
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