There’s a certain expectation that comes with NYE celebrations. A sensation that the 31st of December must perpetually be the best night of one’s life. And so we jump into parties to dance, cram ourselves into packed streets to watch fireworks, and into bars to quaff Champagne. And while all these are perfectly reasonable pursuits for each night of the year — we tend to lend them special credence on NYE — even if it’s the same old club in the same old city. So to help spice up and add a hint of the unexpected to NYE, we’ve uncovered just a few unconventional NYE destinations for your consideration in 2019: from lunar-lit desert landscapes in Africa to colourful beach towns in South America.
NYE by the Sea, Valparaíso, Chile
NYE At Disney
In Scotland, New Year’s Eve is called “Hogmanay”, and there is perhaps nowhere better and more inclusive to celebrate it than in beautiful Edinburgh as part of the Torchlight Procession that snakes its way along the Royal Mile, ending as a gigantic human sculpture in Holyrood Park (the torchbearers are led in in such a manner as to create an image of some sort when viewed from above — this year it will be two people shaking hands).
But Hogmanay is celebrated throughout Scotland with all kinds of traditional events — most of which include some element of fire, a testament to the pagan roots of the celebrations. In Stonehaven, the streets are closed as a piper-led procession performs what was once a pagan cleansing ritual, flinging balls of fire around their heads as they make their way to the harbour. In Dufftown, villagers begin with a traditional ceilidh (Scottish Gaelic for a party) in a local hotel, before the celebrations are taken to the town square, where free drams of whiskey and shortbread courtesy of Glenfiddich and Walkers are handed out amongst the revellers.
The village of Biggar, on the other hand, celebrates with a torchlit parade through the village with a band of pipers and drummers, culminating with the lighting of a gigantic bonfire hours before midnight that everyone gathers around. The fire has been hosed down on more than one occasion, and it was replaced by a candle in a jar in WW2, but it’s so big these days that the locals have a saying that goes something like: "London and Edinburgh are big but Biggar's Biggar."
The Fox Parade, Tokyo, Japan
And now every year locals gather to celebrate and parade the streets dressed as foxes, and after the clock strikes 12, they enter the shrine to perform their hatsumode — the first prayer of the year. Anyone can take part in the parade but one has to register beforehand. Otherwise, grab a spot on the sidelines and watch in awe as the shrines and the surrounding areas are taken over by colourful Kitsune carrying glowing orange lanterns and dressed in heavy winter kimonos and intricate, often very beautiful costumes.
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