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From pancake-flipping marathons to startling plunges into icy cold water, here are 10 of the best ways New Year's Eve is celebrated. Plan your overseas escape for 2019 and check out these massive parties from around the world.
You'd think Las Vegas Strip was mad enough: New Year's Eve things get crazy when the notorious party town hosts one of the biggest parties of the year. The entire Strip is closed to traffic, opening it for a massive block party holding 300,000 thirsty people. You can stay on the Strip and party, or explore options stemming from the many ticketed events that run off the main drag. When the clock strikes midnight, participating casinos launch a choreographed fireworks display that makes Times Square's ball drop look like child's play. If this ain't your bag, you can head up to Old Vegas' Fremont Street Experience, which hosts nine hours of live music over three stages.
Warm up for NYE at the city's annual pancake race, where runners in fancy dress follow routes from two to 15 kilometres in Berlin's arty Grunewalk neighbourhood, flipping pancakes all the way. In the evening, one million people converge around the Brandenburg Gate and Victory Column for one of Europe's biggest open-air street parties, featuring bands and DJs. There is no official end time to this party, so pace yourself, and be prepared to party until sunrise. Watch out for musical luminaries such as David Hasselhoff and Jimmy Somerville, who have performed at the party in previous years.
As if Victoria Harbour wasn't a spectacular enough sight on its own, New Year's Eve you can watch it under one of the world's best pyrotechnic displays. There are many places you can view the fireworks, but recommended spots include from a boat on the harbour or one of many bars in the Lan Kwai Fong district. Many large-scale outdoor celebrations also take place around the city. From 11pm onwards, rooftops around the harbour emit a series of "shooting stars" so you can make a wish, which precedes a replica of New York's ball drop signifying the 60-second countdown. New Year's is celebrated twice in Hong Kong – once again to bring in the Chinese New Year.
Asia's most outrageous beach party attracts hordes of revellers as it occurs smack bang in the middle of tourist season. Beeline to Anjuna Beach, one of Goa's exceptional, never-ending beaches, where backpackers gather around bonfires, makeshift shacks and bars dotting the bamboo forests lining the beach, to guzzle drinks and watch the obligatory fireworks display at midnight. There are more glamorous parties to be had at Goa's hotels and clubs; here you may rub shoulders with celebrities fleeing the glare of the paparazzi.
In no other place in the world do 500 tonnes of fireworks compete with the natural spectacle of the northern lights, painting the otherwise black sky with streaks of pink, green and yellow, illuminating Iceland's Mars-like landscapes in front of 200,000 people. Prior to the pyrotechnics, 90 per cent of the Icelandic population gather around their tellies to watch Áramótaskaup – or the annual New Year's Eve Ridicule (a comedy show broadcast by the national television channel, sending up the major news stories and events of the year). Bars and clubs beckon until the wee hours of the morning.
A multitude of ticketed parties line the harbour in wait for the main event – the spectacular fireworks display over the Harbour Bridge at midnight. A glamorous shindig with prime positioning could see you part ways with upwards of $1000. But there are also completely free events, licensed and booze-free – take your pick. Of course the best position to be in for the Sydney event is on a private yacht, but we don't know anyone lucky or rich enough to have experienced this yet. If you're not keen on front seats for fireworks, head to Bondi, which hosts some of the biggest international names in dance music over an all-night party.
If music is your thang, then NOLA is the place to be; more specifically, its famed French Quarter of New Orleans. After a breathtaking fireworks extravaganza over the Mississippi, revellers can head to Jackson Square to witness live entertainment, or "the liveliest kilometre on the planet" at Bourbon Street for clubbing, or cross over to Frenchman Street, where music clubs will roar with live bands until the sun rises. NOLA's warmer weather means partying can be done outdoors; and it's also one of the few places you can legally carry your drinks on the street. You can also experience some of NOLA's finest cuisine at a lineup of specially priced reveillon dinners to line your stomach before partying till dawn (or beyond).
Rio de Janeiro
If getting lost amongst a wild crowd is your idea of a good night out, Rio is the place to be NYE. A whopping two million people head to Brazil's party city, donning white garb to partake in the sexiest new year's celebration in the world. At Copacabana, the options are endless, where you can gyrate to samba, electronica and rock music. Hotels are open around the clock, and traditionally champagne is sprayed into the air and flowers thrown into the sea as a good luck offering. The mandatory fireworks are on at midnight – but you may not remember them.
"You don't have to be loony, mad or brave … but it helps" – Scotland's biggest NY event ends on New Year's Day with an icy plunge into the River Forth during freezing Edinburgh's winter, a move promising to cure any lingering hangover. Hogmanay (the Scottish word for last day of the year) is a long NYE celebration – a three-day party that features indie bands to traditional music, pagan torchlight processions and the world's biggest rendition of Auld Lang Syne. The only thing that can be guaranteed is the usual pyrotechnic display at midnight.
Perhaps the most famous NYE party in the world is held at Times Square, New York, in particular the ritual "dropping of the ball" from a flagpole in One Times Square. This year representatives from Chongqing, China get the honour of pressing the button that will activate the iconic Waterford crystal ball and begin the 60-second countdown until midnight. If you're lucky enough to be there this year, events begin at 6pm and culminate with a performance by Christina Aguilera just before midnight, at which point a blizzard of confetti will be accompanied by obligatory fireworks display.
Take a look at the celebrations at these party hotspots in the gallery above.
Have you experienced a New Year's Eve party overseas? What destination do you recommend for the best time? Post your comments below.