New Year’s eve is a bit like Marmite – you either love it or you hate it. And whilst some see it as forced, prearranged fun that can be somewhat anticlimactic, others see it as an opportunity to let their hair down and wave goodbye to the year that’s passed and hello to the shiny new slate that awaits them when the clock strikes midnight.
Wherever you go in the world, each country has a unique way of welcoming in the new year. Here are three countries whose celebrations couldn’t differ more.
With a population of just over 320,000 people, it’s an impressive feat that 200,000 people showed up to the festivities in Iceland’s capital Reykjavik last year, which is basically the entire population of the city.
With no official fireworks display in the city, it’s down to the people of Reykjavik to light up the sky. Last year, over 500 tonnes of fireworks were unleashed into the atmosphere to create what was possibly the biggest, most spectacular unofficial fireworks display in the world.
Before heading out to enjoy the festivities, join in with a longstanding local tradition and tune into Áramótaskaup.
Its cultural significance could be likened to that of the Queen’s speech, as this end of year news and events ridicule is a must see for the Icelandic people. Pubs and bars will remain open until the early hours of the morning, and you can be sure of a party atmosphere on the streets.
With no official New Year celebrations happening in the city, there’s no better excuse to make friends with the locals and get involved at a local house party. If you’re looking to escape the celebrations, book onto a Northern Lights tour to experience one of nature’s most spectacular phenomena.
As the most populous city in the world, there’s plenty of spirit and buzz in the air and around the streets of Tokyo during the New Year period. And with festivities beginning as early as the 29th of December, it’s clear that in Japan, they don’t do celebrations by half.
Tokyo is not your typical New Year’s affair of fireworks and countdowns. Instead, there are a number of ways to celebrate, ranging from catching the first sunrise, to the sounds of joya no kane, where a bell is rung 108 times to see out the year. Join the locals for Hatsumode, the first temple-visit of the year. Popular temples such as Meiji Shrine will be extremely busy as people attempt to reach the offering hall to say a prayer, therefore keep your eyes open for smaller, local temples.
The atmosphere around the temples will be one of cheer as the crowds are buzzing with positivity for the year ahead. Once you’ve made your temple visit, (although this can be done any time between the 1st and 3rd of January), indulge in some traditional New Year’s cuisine to help usher in that good luck.
Toshikoshi soba is a type of buckwheat noodle that’s eaten to symbolise the removal of misfortunes from the year gone by as well as representing good luck and a long life through their appearance.
To round off your New Year experience, book yourself into Palace Hotel Tokyo, easily one of the finest luxury hotels in Tokyo, for somewhere truly special to lay your head after all the festivities.
For an experience that sits at the complete opposite end of the spectrum, head over to sunny western India and enjoy a New Year’s celebration that’s as unique as it is wild.
A region renowned for its stunning beaches, fresh seafood and laid back culture, Goa is also known for its vibrant parties. Come December 31st, friends and families gather along the coast to see out the year gone by in DIY fashion with music and fireworks, where locals and tourists drink side by side on the pristine beaches.
Partying beneath the palm trees and the twinkle of the stars in Goa is a New Year’s celebration like no other and is one for those who aren’t put off by the prospect of free hugs. Head to Anjuna for the most elaborate parties, but if you’re looking to enjoy a peaceful evening with your toes between the sand and a few drinks with friends, set up base on Sinquerim Beach – home to Fort Aguada.
Have you got any tips for New Years this year?!