Everyone knows the top spots to ring in the New Year: New York, London, Sydney, Hong Kong, Paris. These destinations frequently reign atop ‘Bests of’ and ‘Top Ten’ lists as places to view spectacular lightshows and fireworks displays. Las Vegas, Edinburgh, Reykjavik, Berlin, Rio – also vying for top spots lately, and rightfully so. Search “Best New Year’s Eve” on Google and you’ll instantly be directed to thousands upon thousands of articles debating which is best and why each deserves to remain.
At OneUpped we want to offer a few alternatives to these long-established, routine New Year’s Eve recommendations – a few unconventional places we’ve ‘dropped the ball’ in recent years. So, without further ado, here’s a few extraordinary, lesser known New Year’s Eve hot spots!
If your idea of the perfect New Year’s Eve is an all-night party, head to Buenos Aires! While the pre-midnight activity is minimal due to New Years being primarily a family affair, street parties erupt shortly after midnight, and the fireworks, crazy nightlife and partying lasts until sunrise. A proper way to start the night is by catching the fireworks in Puerto Madero from one of the many Rooftop Parties in Recoleta…the higher the better. This is only the beginning, however; so, imbibe with caution – the city doesn’t truly come alive until after midnight. Following the midnight pyrotechnic display, the streets erupt with non-sanctioned fireworks as entire families come out to move from street party to street party. The fireworks and revelry continue until dawn, and Recoleta and Palermo are popular neighborhoods to mingle with the locals and drop into local pubs to grab cocktails along the way. If you want to hit a club or larger venue once you’ve had your fill of the local festivities, you’re in luck! Most of the true club and party venues in Buenos Aires open between 1:00 and 2:00am and continue through sunrise!
Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon)
Vietnam is a country of contrast. From history, to architecture, to geography – there remains a clear distinction between North and South. While Tết, or Vietnamese New Year, which is based off of the Chinese calendar, remains the most important celebration in Vietnamese culture, New Years Eve (based off of the Gregorian calendar) is widely celebrated, and Ho Chi Minh is the place to be.
There are many hotel parties and sponsored events throughout the city; however, the local celebrations occur at the parks throughout the city; there are thousands of people drinking and dancing in the streets. Music, food stalls and concerts everywhere, and the long park that starts opposite the Ben Than Market is the best place to ring in the New Year. Then, if you’re still going strong, hit Pham Ngu Lao-De Thám backpacker area for the post-midnight party.
The Big Easy. New Orleans is festive any night of the year. Unless hurricane gale winds descend, you’ll rarely experience a night where its legendary themed bars and jazz-filled piano cafes aren’t in full swing. On New Year’s Eve, Jackson Square boasts the biggest party in town. With live music all night long and a fireworks display over the Mississippi, the fleur-de-lis (New Orleans’s version of the Times Square ball) drops at Midnight. As always, there’s a vibrant live-music scene and melting pot of French, African and American cultures throughout the city and celebrations. Bourbon Street, the heart of the French Quarter and center of its legendary nightlife, hosts a Balcony Bash, where the parties and clubs wind up post-midnight and party until morning.
Cave Bar (Petra, Jordan)
Forget the insolvable quarrel surrounding which pub is the oldest in London. If you want to ring in the New Year in the ‘Oldest Bar in the World,’ here it is! Cave Bar in Petra, Jordan. As the name insinuates, it’s a bar…in a cave; but, not just any cave. Aside from being adjacent to one of the ‘New 7 Wonders of the World,’ it happens to be a 2000 year-old cave originally built as a tomb by the Nabataean people, who inhabited the area of Jordan between 37 to 100 A.D. You’re not going to see any fireworks displays or parties in the streets here. And sure, as you may have presumed, the bar itself did not ‘technically’ exist 2000 years ago. But you’re at a bar in a 2000yr old cave for New Years…at Petra. It’s AWESOME!
Namibian and South Africans alike flock to Swakopmund during the holiday season. This German colonial beach resort lies just north of Namib-Naukluft Park, known for its mesmerizing sand dunes, and south of the Skeleton Coast, infamous for the ship wrecks littering its coastline. Swakopmund is where the desert meets the ocean, literally. Fun fact: it also happens to be home to the world’s largest uranium mine, about 70km (43mi) outside of the town.
Although a small town by global standards, Swakopmund hosts a number of New Years Eve events each year, including a bonfire and fireworks display at Tiger Beach. The real fun, however, can be found at a number of sponsored events around town. It’s the ‘place to be’ in Southeast Africa. Book hotels well ahead of time, because accommodation sell out months in advance.