New Year’s Eve is a time for celebration. Jet off for an action-packed trip abroad, either close to home in Europe or an exotic, faraway destination. From world-renowned favourites such as New York City to less considered locations such as Reykjavik, we cover our top places to visit for a New Year’s Eve holiday. Each destination has plenty of things to do, so you can explore at your leisure once the NYE celebrations are over.
The best of Europe – New Year celebrations, a short flight away
Lisbon is no stranger to excellent food and nightlife and the Portuguese capital is the perfect place to spend New Year’s without spending as much as you would in other major European cities. The city is full of lively events, some set in grand palaces and others out on the town streets (which are significantly warmer than Northern Europe). Enjoy a traditional Portuguese dinner with your loved one in one of the central restaurants and end your night gazing at the fireworks above Belem tower.
Praça do Comércio is the main square of the city, surrounded by lively bars and restaurants. For the midnight fireworks, take a short walk to the banks of the Tejo River for the best views of the sky.
Best place to see the New Year fireworks in Lisbon
Stroll down to the riverfront and watch the fireworks in the Terreiro do Paço or Belem areas for the best views of the fireworks.
- Le Reveillon no Convento do Beato – Enjoy a dinner and drinks or just attend the ball at this stunning 15th century open-air building. It’s a sophisticated and beautiful setting to enjoy the celebrations.
- Royal Palace – Dine like royalty and sip cocktails overlooking the Tagus river at midnight. The Tapada da Ajuda palace in central Lisbon is home to this famous new year’s event.
If you want to dance your way into the new year, Amsterdam is where it’s at. Head to Amsterdam’s ‘Dam Square’ for a scenic dinner overlooking the canals and onward to one of the cosy corner pubs of the canals. End your night at Oosterdok riverside for the fireworks or continue the party in one of the many nightclubs. Wandering the cold but pretty canals on New Year’s Eve is a great way to welcome the new year and the quaint canals of the centre is a romantic setting for when the clock strikes midnight.
There’s also plenty to do on New Year’s Day. Enjoy the peace and quiet of one of Amsterdam’s many parks or a leisurely but fun tour of the Heineken museum.
Best place to see the New Year fireworks in Amsterdam
The Oosterdok harbour area, a short walk from Dam Square, is the best place to see the fireworks. Look out at the river for a bright display above the tall ships.
- Nieuwmarkt – a collection of streets in Central Amsterdam with food and drinks stalls, a lively atmosphere and a clear view of the midnight fireworks.
- Bars and clubs hosting New Year’s Eve events include Encore, Awakenings and Loveland. Make sure you book tickets in advance as it can be very difficult to get one of the day.
If you’re looking for a brilliant new year’s atmosphere that’s not so far from home, catch a short flight over to Dublin where you’ll welcome the new year with the heart-warming atmosphere of a traditional Irish pub. The locals will welcome you for an evening of Irish dancing and filling Irish grub. Dublin’s New Year’s atmosphere is a combination of tradition mixed with modern, and the city centre is full of history.
Wander the cobbled streets and stop off for a pint and dinner before watching the Procession of Light, an impressive parade of rooftop lanterns and performers. You can then choose to attend the main countdown concert on St Stephen’s Green for live music and cheer or retire to one of the many pubs and bars, all within walking distance of each other. Extending your new year’s stay in Dublin, you must take a New Year’s Day trip north-west to Galway and infamous Devil’s Causeway, an amazing rock formation.
Best place to see the New Year fireworks in Dublin
St George’s Quay is the place to be for the unusual but entertaining Liffey Lights acrobatic and light show.
- St Stephen’s Green is the centre of all the NYE action. Listen to traditional choir music or the beats of modern artists until the early hours.
- Luminosity show at College Green – Explore Irish culture with music, performance and a stunning light and special effects show displayed on the city’s most historic buildings.
Iceland is probably our favourite winter destination. From towering waterfalls and black sand beaches to dramatic snowy scenery; any winter trip here is one of the most adventurous things you’ll ever do! The capital of Rekyjavik is unlike any other European capital city; it’s a compact centre with a low population and lots of coloured buildings, much like a small town. Even though it’s little in size, don’t be fooled into thinking the city has no cheery atmosphere and you won’t have an amazing New Year’s Eve. The local people are fun, friendly and will take you under their wing to give you an Icelandic experience you won’t forget.
NYE celebrations consist of packed restaurants and bars all within walking distance of each other, huge bonfires and epic fireworks displays that can be seen in the clear night sky. If you’re lucky, you’ll even catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights in the background.
Read more about our trip to Iceland and sightseeing recommendations here.
Best place to see the New Year’s Eve fireworks in Reykjavik: Fireworks can be seen across Reykjavik as many locals host their own displays and bonfires. We recommend taking a cruise down the river for some of the best views. Fireworks are a big thing for the locals and they spend a fortune on them every year. Rather than one big display, you have displays stretching across the city skyline.
- Hallgrímskirkja church and the square outside is a central place to enjoy the firework displays on offer. Take a bottle of champagne and wrap up warm.
- Perlan – this quirky observatory style building is an icon on the Reykjavik skyline. Indulge in a nice meal and watch the fireworks from the upper deck.
For a capital city, Berlin is surprisingly affordable. You can relax in a nice hotel with your partner or check you and your friends into a large apartment for a fraction of the price you’d pay in other major cities. Berlin is a lively city any night of the week but on New Year’s Eve it really comes alive! You’ll find celebrations spread throughout the city, however the Brandenburg Street party is one of the largest of its kind and a safe bet for a place to go for couples, families and friends.
Entry to the party is free and you’ll find food stalls, live music and pop-up eateries on offer, leading up to the professional fireworks display over the Brandenburg Gate at midnight. For late-night parties, Berlin has some of the best nightclubs in the world, all hosting special New Year’s Events. Check out The Culture Trip’s guide here for the best clubs to visit in Berlin on NYE.
Best place to see the New Year’s Eve fireworks in Berlin: Head to Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate for the midnight fireworks. Entry is free so arrive as early as possible for a good spot.
- Brandenburg Gate celebrations – Germany’s iconic landmark is home to Berlin’s biggest new year’s celebration. Expect food stalls, live music and awesome fireworks. Ideal for all ages.
- Kulturbrauerei – Berlin’s largest indoor party, packed with 30 DJ’s, 13 floors and a live band. Other major NYE club venues include Haubentaucher and Spreepalais Alexanderplatz.
- Hermannplatz square – a outdoor party where locals set off their own fireworks and celebrate until the early hours. Bring some food and drinks and soak in the atmosphere.
The French Alps
One New Year holiday option that can’t be discounted is skiing in the French Alps. Every year thousands of people flock to Geneva and nearby airports for a post-Christmas break of skiing during the day and snuggling up in a chalet on an evening, before visiting the many bars and restaurants. Staying at a large resort such as Val Thorens or Tignes is guaranteed to be a blast on December 31st.
Spend the day skiing at your leisure and assemble on an evening for an extra-long Après celebration. The resort bars are packed with skiing enthusiasts from all over the world and everyone flocks outside at midnight for an epic firework display alongside the snowy mountains. New Year is always very busy so be sure to book in advance to secure a spot (and cheaper prices!).
Best French ski resorts for New Year fireworks: Both Tignes and Val Thorens have impressive displays at the stroke of midnight. Visit Le Lac slope in Tignes or the central location of Place Caron in Val Thorens. You can see the fireworks from almost any open location in these tightly knit resorts.
- Tignes Le Lac slopes – a live music festival on the slopes of the mountain. Expect multiple genres of music, hearty food and drinks and a midnight fireworks display.
- Val Thorens Place Caron – this central resort spot is where you can gather with your loved ones and friends when the kids have went to bed. You’ll see an excellent firework display and lively music atmosphere.
If you’re staying in Europe for New Year, we strongly recommend booking as far in advance as possible. This is a very popular time to visit so flights and accommodation can be very expensive if booking last minute. Fly out as close to Christmas as possible and return later than January 2nd for the best flight prices.
New York City
New York City is widely regarded as one of the best places to bring in the new year and this isn’t set to change. Watch the fireworks from the comfort of a Manhattan sky lounge or party with a multi-cultural crowd in Brooklyn until late. New York has a winter charm that you’ll love and the sheer amount of celebrations on offer at this time of year will have you spoilt for choice. Why not board a New Year’s ferry tour and see colourful skies alongside the Statue of Liberty?
New Year’s nightlife in NYC is very mixed, so whether you’d like to enjoy a fancy meal and a Broadway show or check out the exclusive clubs and bars, this is a perfect choice. Be sure to extend your trip into the new year for a spot of sightseeing.
Best place to see the New Year’s Eve fireworks in New York City: Prospect Park is regarded as one of the best firework displays in the city. Grab a spot next to the Grand Army Plaza for the best view.
- Times Square – What better way to bring in the new year than watching the ball drop in Times Square, arguably one of the most famous New Year’s Eve events on earth? Expect live performances from current artists and an eclectic atmosphere.
- Fancy dinners and exclusive bars – There’s too many new year’s events in NYC to list! Check out this updated Timeout guide for what’s on this year. From peaceful church choir performances to exclusive rooftop martini bars; there’s several ways to celebrate in this city.
Dubai likes to do everything on a huge scale and New Year is no different. Every year the city’s fireworks display gets more impressive and the hot weather is the perfect escape from the UK’s snow and ice. Fly to Dubai after Christmas for a week of relaxation in a nice hotel and exploring what this modern city has to offer. You’ll find action packed activities such as skydiving, boat trips, water parks and helicopter tours, but also have plenty of bars, restaurants and beaches to enjoy at a more leisurely pace.
There are two main firework displays on NYE; one at the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building), and the other at the Burj al Arab hotel, the world’s only 7-star rated accommodation. Those two statements alone are enough to tell you how amazing the displays are. Join locals and tourists alike and see the new year’s celebrations from the beach or ascend to one of the many skyscraper rooftop bars and bring in the new year in style.
Best place to see the New Year’s Eve fireworks in Dubai: Flock to Jumeirah Beach to see the Burj al Arab fireworks or the foot of the Burj Khalifa for a view of the city centre display.
- Atlantis The Palm Hotel – Step into a paradise of luxury in this enchanting beach hotel. Enjoy a top-class dinner in one of the many restaurants before clubbing on the private beach under a sky of fireworks.
- Boat cruise – Set sail on Dubai’s calm seas and rivers for some of the best views of the fireworks. Enjoy a fancy dinner on a private yacht and celebrate in style.
When people think of spending New Year in Brazil, they think of watching the fireworks on Copacabana beach in Rio, however, why not celebrate like the locals on Bahia’s exotic beach coastline? Running from Christmas Eve to the New Year, the eastern beaches of Bahia are alive with locals and tourists, enjoying hearty Brazilian food and the nice summer weather of this resort area. The atmosphere is electric, although quite busy, and the locals will welcome you as one of their own.
Bahia provides a cultural and colourful experience of Brazil’s New Year celebrations and is often cheaper than the heavily populated and expensive beaches of Rio. It’s a large state too, so it has a lot to offer! Stay in the state capital of Salvador for a rich city experience and fireworks, relax in the more chilled but beautiful beach of Morro de Sao Paulo (only reachable by boat), or head to Porto Seguro beach for a lively party atmosphere.
P.s. the local tradition is to wear white, so don your best white gown or suit and say hello to the new year in style.
Back at home in the UK
If you’re looking to save money or fancy a traditional but excellent New Year’s Eve closer to home, the UK’s very own London and Edinburgh are the perfect places to visit.
London has an action-packed firework display on the foot of the Thames and party celebrations throughout the city. Dine on the Thames on a new year’s river cruise, head to one of the capital’s finest restaurants or enjoy a few pints in a good old central London pub with lots of atmosphere. There’s a reason London is rated one of the tourist hot-spots of the world…
If you’re closer to the north, Edinburgh is the place to be. New Year’s Eve is the celebration of Hogmany, an age-old street party celebration that takes place throughout the new year period. Walk through the pretty, cobbled streets to the sound of music, glowing lanterns and an amazing atmosphere to bring in the new year. It’s great for families, couples and friends alike. Make sure you wear lots of layers though, the Scottish weather isn’t for the faint of heart.
We hope we inspired you to find your perfect place to celebrate New Year’s Eve this year! Compare prices and dates for the best prices and be sure to book in advance. It’s a very popular time of year to travel.
Where are you going to spend new year’s this year? Let us know in the comments below.