Best places to spend New Year's Eve: The world's top 10 cities to ring in the New Year

1 AUCKLAND

The first big city to welcome in the new year (sorry, Sydneysiders) is liveliest at Viaduct Basin down on the harbour, where bars provide fine views towards the Harbour Bridge as fireworks light up the sky. The partying gets unrestrained as the night progresses. Otherwise, head to Ponsonby and Parnell, or retreat to exclusive events on Waiheke Island a half-hour ride from the city, where you can enjoy a fantastic sunset and live music. See aucklandnz.com

See also: Twenty reasons to visit Auckland

2 SINGAPORE

Asia's once most sedate city has become a lively place. New Year's Eve is an energetic celebration featuring fireworks, laser shows, beach dances and music performances around Marina Bay, which even has a party on a floating stage that runs for eight hours. Suntec City and the Esplanade are the places to gather; Suntec's Fountain of Wealth – one of the world's largest fountains – erupts at midnight in a spectacular spray. See visitsingapore.com

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3 BANGKOK

The Thai capital has countdowns and fireworks at venues such as the National Stadium and Central World Square, where you'll find live performances by local artists, sound-and-light shows and outdoor beer gardens. Fireworks over Chao Praya River against a backdrop of palaces and temples are probably the best. Many five-star hotels lining the river host special outdoor events. The city's nightclubs are pumping, with extended opening hours and specially invited DJs. See tourismthailand.org

See also: Twenty reasons to visit Bangkok

4 CAPE TOWN

Cape Town has a spectacular setting for new year celebrations, with fireworks over the V&A Waterfront as the black bulk of Table Mountain broods in the background. Street entertainers and top bands perform. Then head to the beach party at Camps Bay, the street party along Long Street, or one of dozens of nightclubs offering VIP parties. Save some energy for January 2, which launches the colourful Kaapse Klopse minstrels' festival. See capetown.travel

See also: Twenty Reasons to visit Cape Town

5 BERLIN

The German capital throws a huge festival stretching two kilometres from the Brandenburg Gate, attended by more than a million partygoers and featuring dance tents, food stalls and enormous video screens. Bands perform on stages, with acts tailored to different age groups and musical tastes. World-famous rock and pop acts often turn out for the occasion. Only the fireworks bring the partying to a temporary standstill as revellers crane their necks skywards at midnight. See visitberlin.de

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The Champs-Elysees and Place de la Concorde are the place to be for the countdown, where huge crowds jostle and there are kisses all round at midnight. A dinner cruise along the Seine is a more intimate, romantic option. The Eiffel Tower offers a light show though no fireworks. Famous cabarets such as the Moulin Rouge have special dinner shows, and the bars of newly trendy Pigalle district keep going until sunrise. See parisinfo.com

7 LONDON

In Trafalgar Square, revellers fling themselves into the fountains as Big Ben booms. Coloured lasers and fireworks centre on the London Eye, though skyscraper The Shard also has a light show. Thames party cruises are popular for firework watching. Then head on to nightclubs and other party venues – even the Natural History Museum hosts a party. Next day, a colourful New Year's Parade features marching bands and clowns among its 10,000 performers. See visitlondon.com

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8 MADRID

Restaurants offer set-price new year meals with live music and dancing. Then Madrid descends on Puerta del Sol for the midnight countdown. Bring grapes for the big moment; the Spanish eat 12 grapes as the clock strikes. Watch out for empty champagne bottles and firecrackers, which fly everywhere. Then head to the nightclubs and finally to a cafe for a restorative hot chocolate and churros – the traditional way to end the new year's partying. See esmadrid.com

See also: Things to do in Madrid: Three-minute guide

9 LAS VEGAS

Vegas has always been a party city and new year is no exception. Pace yourself: the casinos are packed, theatres and stages host A-list entertainers, and nightclubs throw extravagant events. The Strip, closed to traffic, sees an enormous fireworks display. With alcohol flowing freely, the scene can get quickly riotous. The other main congregation point is the Fremont Experience, with light and laser shows, entertainment from big bands and a less raucous atmosphere. See lvcva.com

See also: The 20 must-do highlights of Las Vegas

10 RIO DE JANEIRO

Rio has one of the most unusual and exuberant new year's celebrations as half the city picnics on its famous beaches. Many rush into the sea at midnight to fling offerings of flowers and gifts into the waves. If the offerings are carried out to sea, it's considered a good omen for the year ahead. Thousands of candles flicker on the sands, and fireworks finish it all off, most spectacularly at Copacabana. See visitbrasil.com

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