A beautiful spectacle, free and perfect accompanied with alcohol – it can only be New Year’s Eve fireworks time again!
Below, we let you know what to expect in ten top cities around the world that draw explosion-lovin’ crowds every December 31st. As well as showing the most well-known spots to see fireworks, for some cities we’ll tell you a better, less-crowded alternative place to watch.
So get your novelty 2015 shades on, wrap up warm and get ready to toast the New Year under bright lights in London, New York, Sydney and beyond…
New Year’s Eve fireworks in London take place by the River Thames next to the London Eye, starting just as Big Ben bongs in midnight.
Most famous viewing spot: There are designated viewing spots along Westminster Bridge, the Southbank and Embankment – people start turning up to claim a spot around 4pm, and the areas are closed once full (usually around 10.30pm).
Recommended spot: ignore the call of the Southbank – it gets crazily crowded and you will, indeed, feel like a tourist (London locals go down the pub, clubbing or to friends’ house parties). Instead head north to Hampstead Heath, where you get a wonderful and completely free panoramic view of fireworks popping in the skies above the city.
Most famous viewing spot: NYE celebrations take place along Straße des 17. Juni, between Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column, where there are bars galore, food stalls and stages with bands playing up until midnight. When the clock strikes 12, fireworks light up the sky and the street party continues to the early morning.
Recommended spot: Instead of getting caught up in the throng, go into side-streets off the Straße for partying with more room to breathe. Kurfürstendamm Ku’damm (a shopping street south of the Tiergarten) also puts on a fab end of year party open to all.
Taiwan’s capital Taipei celebrates New Year twice for both Western and Chinese calendars. On December 31st, a spectacular fireworks display pops and fizzes over the skyline, focussed around monolithic tower Taipei 101.
Most famous viewing spot: The square below Taipei 101 fills up with revellers from late afternoon onwards on New Year’s Eve.
Recommended spot: You don’t need to get crammed into the square to enjoy the show: you can view 101 from anywhere in the city. Head to Rainbow Riverside Park for gorgeous firework views in a more relaxed setting.
If you’re going: Look for NYE hostels in Taipei
4. New York
Most famous viewing spot: Around a million people per year fill Times Square to watch the famous Waterford crystal ball descend to midnight chimes. When the ball reaches the bottom of its flagpole, fireworks go off while confetti fills the air.
Recommended spot: Times Square, of course! Ahhh, go on, you’ve got to do it once in your life! Stake out your spot in the square around 3pm, dress in layers and remember alcohol is banned (we in no way recommend sneaking something into a coke bottle or similar.) Oh, and there are no bathrooms – so be prepared to hold it. If all this sounds like a nightmare, there are also firework shows at Grand Army Plaza outside Prospect Park in Brooklyn, and at New York Harbour in south Manhattan.
5. Las Vegas
Most famous viewing spot: The Main Strip. As you might expect from Sin City, New Year’s Eve is a big and bedazzling affair – over 80,000 fireworks go off along the rooftops of the Strip’s casinos including the MGM Grand and Caesar’s Palace.
Recommended spot: The Las Vegas Monorail – it costs only $5, and gives you a bird’s eye view of the amazing fireworks show in the sky away from the crowds.
If you’re going: Find a hotel in Las Vegas for NYE.
6. Rio de Janeiro
Most famous viewing spot: Copacabana Beach is the best place to be to ring in NYE in Rio. A 16-minute fireworks spectacular takes place over the water at midnight, while you can dance throughout the evening to many live acts across several stages along the sands.
If you’re going: Discover more about partying in Rio with our guide to the best New Year’s Eve Parties in Brazil
Most famous viewing spot: Sydney’s Harbour Bridge fireworks are probably the world’s most famous NYE celebration, this being the first major city to ring in the New Year. Popular viewing spots include Sydney Opera house (free, very crowded) and the Royal Botanic Gardens’ Lawn with a View (ticketed event for 700).
Recommended spot: Go a bit further out to see the fireworks without the crush. Bradley’s Head and North Head National Park can accommodate over 7,000 people, while the Rocks south of the Harbour Bridge has a laid-back but buzzy atmosphere for street partying.
Most famous viewing spot: There’s no official fireworks show in Paris for NYE – instead there’s a light show at the Eiffel Tower. We’re including the city because it’s still one of the most popular places to head for NYE in Europe, and lots of people still assume they’ll see fireworks sparkling from the Eiffel Tower come midnight.
If you want to catch the lights show, get to Champ de Mars around 5pm to stake your spot. There’s a street party that goes on along the Champs Elysees well after midnight, too.
Recommended spot: Get free, panoramic views of Paris from the city’s highest spot, the Sacre Couer Basilica in Montmartre. This way you’ll be able to see any unofficial fireworks let off by locals popping over the city before you.
Most famous viewing spot: Prague’s spectacular New Year Eve fireworks show lasts 15 minutes, with the Old Town Square the busiest and craziest place to party while they go off.
Recommended spot: For a more chilled-out and beautiful fireworks vantage point, head to Charles Bridge or anywhere around there along the river bank.
If you’re going: check out the options for hotels in Prague for NYE
10. Hong Kong
Most famous viewing spot: Hong Kong celebrates Chinese New Year with a wham-bam 20-minute fireworks spectacular, but also puts on an amazing show over Victoria Harbour for NYE on December 31st. As well as traditional fireworks, the skyscrapers around the harbour are lit up by a synchronised light and laser show called the Symphony of Lights. For the best view-point, head to the Avenue of Stars on Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront or Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai.
Recommended spot: HK’s Times Square shopping mall hosts its own version of the NYC ball drop. There are crazy crowds, yes, but if you can handle it you’ll love the hedonistic atmosphere.
If you’re going: see the hostels in Hong Kong available on NYE.
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Thanks to Michael Elleray,jtlondon, Jason Paris, othree, Anthony Quintano, InSapphowetrust, Rob Chandler, Vizzzual.com, Jan, Ryan Li for the images off Flickr. Please note, all images were used under the Creative Commons License at the time of posting.