At the end of the year, millions flock to major cities to party well into the night as music plays and fireworks blaze. In unison, they count down the last seconds before the New Year begins. If you’ve already watched the ball drop in popular places around the globe, opt to charter a flight to a destination that’s a little more under the radar but just as festive to celebrate the past and present.
New Destinations to Ring in the New Year
Koh Phangan Island, Thailand
Well-known for its full-moon parties, Koh Phangan Island in Thailand’s Suratthani Province throws a wicked New Year’s Eve party full of merrymaking and revelry. The all-night party on Sunrise Beach in Haad Rin starts after the sun sets. Before the clock strikes twelve, people flock to the beach as DJs, jugglers, dancers, and fire-eaters entertain the crowds. For a less hectic evening, celebrate on one the smaller beaches, such as Thong Nai Pan Noi or Thong Nai Pan. After the party, retire to the Anantara Rasananda Koh Phangan Villas, a luxury resort on the beach at Noi.
Sure, there’s Dubai, but you can get the same glittering opulence and glamour in neighboring Abu Dhabi on New Year’s Eve. The area comes alive with concerts, live music, gala dinners, and pyrotechnic displays over Khor Al Maqta and the Al Marya Island Promenade. All the major luxury hotels, from the Emirates Palace Hotel to the Sheraton, host their own festive end-of-year bashes. For a party with a view, consider the Yas Viceroy’s Skylite Rooftop Lounge. If you want to splurge, attend the gala at the Emirates Palace, which treats its guests to an exclusive private fireworks display, special dinner, and entertainment.
If great wine appeals to you more than a shot, you might fall in love with Madeira. The picturesque island celebrates life, and each New Year’s Eve features free-flowing wine from cafes and an impressive fireworks display over Funchal Bay that was once recognized as the largest in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records. Beginning on December 30, the streets fill with live music performed on Avenida Arriaga and São Lourenço Palace’s gardens. The Municipal Baltazar Dias Theatre also offers a traditional New Year’s concert by the classical Orchestra of Madeira. Some don their best evening wear on the night of the 30th, enjoy dinner, and party until the night of the 31st. Join in the local tradition of eating 12 grapes and making 12 wishes, climbing one step, and keeping some money in your pocket at the stroke of midnight for good luck and prosperity. A stay at the century-old Belmond Reid’s Palace—set in cliff-top gardens overlooking the ocean—rewards you with a gala dinner for two.
Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, comes alive on New Year’s Eve. If you’re looking for a quieter day free of crowds, spend New Year’s Eve at Nairobi National Park, a game reserve just outside the city’s business district. The reserve is home to a variety of wildlife such as lions, zebra, leopards, cheetahs, endangered black rhino, and a variety of birds. Nearby Lake Nakuru National Park gives you a glimpse hundreds of hundreds of flamingoes. Watch a traditional Maasai dance at night before settling in at the tranquil Giraffe Manor, which is famous for its resident Rothschild’s giraffes. The gentle creatures are known to poke their long necks through open windows in search of treats.