Undiscovered Destinations to Spend New Year’s Eve

Ellie Swain

Senior Contributor

New Year’s Eve – it’s the one night of the year where the whole world comes alive and unites to celebrate the passing year. For the keen traveller, it’s a great opportunity to make the most of the time off and explore a new destination at its most festive and celebratory. While high-profile cities such as Sydney, London, and New York are popular New Year’s Eve destinations to watch famous spectacles of colourful fireworks and ring in the New Year, you’ll be crammed between crowds for the pleasure of doing so. For a less hectic experience, why not consider a more underrated destination to spend New Year’s Eve? These exciting locations around the globe all put on a unique celebration without the added stress of thousands of tourists and enormous swarms of crowds. Check out these top spots for a more local-led New Year’s Eve.

Valparaiso, Chile

Have you got stamina? Chile’s cultural capital of Valparaiso hosts one hell of a New Year’s Eve party, with a three-day-long ‘New Year’s Eve by the sea’ celebration. The city commemorates the passing of the year with three action-packed days of festivities, concluding with South America’s largest fireworks show.

For the best view of the city’s colourful, glittering fireworks show, head to the Valparaiso hills for sprawling panoramic views. Alternatively, go all out and hire a charter boat to admire the twinkling shower of colours out at sea.

NYE in Valparaiso, Chile

Rome, Italy

While Rome welcomes its fair share of visitors on New Year’s Eve, it’s a lot less touristy than many other European cities such as Paris, Edinburgh, and London. The entire capital, from the Piazza del Popolo to the iconic Colosseum draws in revellers that unite in celebration, creating one huge party to remember.

While there are celebratory fireworks displays scattered across the city, the most iconic show is held at the ancient Colosseum. Pop on a warm coat and snuggly gloves and gather to watch a spectacle of fizzing colours dazzle against the legendary Roman landmark.

NYE in Rome, Italy

Tongatapu, Tonga

For a truly unique celebration, consider visiting one of the first countries in the world to ring in the New Year.

While it may be a journey away, the French Polynesian Island of Tonga is a New Year’s Eve dream destination. Escape the chill and head for the caster-sugar white sands, sparkling azure waters, and toasty temperatures of Tonga’s capital Tongatapu.

As the island is so remote, this is one destination you can expect few tourists yet plenty of local-led parties where residents will welcome you with open arms.

Polynesian dancing

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

To ring in the New Year in luxury and glamour without the teams of tourists and expats, skip Dubai and head for its more relaxed neighbour, Abu Dhabi. While the dazzling city comes alive on New Year’s Eve with its fair share of music concerts and lavish fireworks displays, it comes without the hectic party atmosphere that Dubai offers.

Sample authentic Middle Eastern cuisine as you gawk at the vivid fireworks from Al Maryah Island, or party the night away from the luxe Skylite Rooftop Lounge at Yas Viceroy. From such heights, you can enjoy sublime water views stretching across into the distance.

For the ultimate New Year’s Eve treat, indulge in a private fireworks extravaganza at the New Year’s Eve Gala at the spectacular Emirates Palace.

Abu Dhabi, Emirates Palace

Reykjavik, Iceland

In December, Iceland hits sub-zero temperatures and welcomes long days consisting of total darkness. Due to those reasons, New Year’s celebrations are low-key, even in the capital city of Reykjavik.

However, locals still celebrate in style with a host of glimmering fireworks displays, communal bonfires, and plenty of dancing and drinks. Thanks to the country’s laidback fireworks laws there are shows in almost every corner of the city, and the night sky twinkles with vibrant colours throughout the evening.

There isn’t an official fireworks display, so team up with locals and other visitors to celebrate the turning of the year.

NYE in Reykjavik

Hida-Takayama, Japan

If all-night revelry isn’t your forte, consider heading to the small and charming 18th-century Japanese town of Hida-Takayama for a more spiritual experience. Littered with delicate buildings, shrines, and temples, locals celebrate the New Year with a visit to the town’s Buddhist temple.

There, each individual rings a bell to signify the welcoming of the New Year before indulging in a nourishing bowl of Toshikoshi Soba noodles. These special noodles symbolize the longevity of the New Year, and not finishing the dish invites bad luck. Locals also stay up until sunrise, praying to encourage and welcome good luck for the upcoming year.

Curious visitors are welcome to join in the unique celebrations and are encouraged to visit one of the many shrines where the Miko – shrine maidens – offer the first sake of the year to sample.

Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine, Hida, Takayama, Japan

Dingle, Ireland

The small and sleepy Irish port town of Dingle comes alive on New Year’s Eve with huge parties that fill every street. Unlike in most destinations, the fireworks start at 10 pm at Dingle Bay, leading to animated parades that feature marching bands to heighten the jolly mood even further.

At midnight, the masses surround a clock projected onto a building face and chime the count down together to welcome the New Year. Expect plenty of booze, dancing, and laughs to follow – its Ireland after all.

Be warned though – while New Year’s Eve in Dingle mainly draws locals, expect plenty of crowds!

Dingle, Ireland

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