Many Americans associate New Year’s Eve with the glittery ball dropping in Times Square. But did you know that Brazilians wear all white for legendary parties on Copacabana Beach, and Australians celebrate with an enormous fireworks display over the Sydney Opera House? Every city in the world has its own way to ring in the New Year—some with the traditional midnight countdowns and fireworks, others with more surprising local customs.
With 39 distinct time zones around the world, Stacker set out to find unique locations in each one for ringing in the new year. After carefully considering local celebrations, cultural traditions, and tourist attractions, one city for each time zone was picked for offering a one-of-a-kind New Year’s Eve experience. Stacker related each time zone to Eastern Standard Time as a means of comparison to the world-renowned ball drop in New York City. Whether you’re looking to travel no more than a few hours from home or jet halfway around the world, let this list serve as inspiration for your New Year’s Eve plans.
Also known as Kiritimati Island, Christmas Island is the biggest island in Kiribati, and the first inhabited location in the world to experience the New Year each year. Though it’s not a big party destination, you can make the most of a winter trip to Christmas Island by hiking through the national park, scuba diving off the sandy beaches, fishing for wahoo, sailfish, and tuna, and witnessing the spectacular red crab migration.
This archipelago off the coast of New Zealand is just 15 minutes behind Christmas Island. With a population of only 600, you won’t find much in the way of nightclubs or bars, but you can spend the New Year strolling along the islands’ pristine beaches, hiking through nature preserves, and checking out the eye-catching Basalt Columns rock formation.
New Zealand’s largest city boasts plenty of fun things to do on New Year’s Eve, including two massive music festivals: Northern Bass and Wondergarden. Don’t want to spend all night moshing with several thousands of concertgoers? Climb to the top of Mount Eden or One Tree Hill for a killer view of the Sky Tower fireworks.
Head to the laid-back capital of this tiny island nation for a relaxing New Year’s Eve vacation. Instead of packed clubs and grimy bars, you can expect to find turquoise waters, villages with thatched roofs, and locals selling handcrafted cowrie shell jewelry. While you won’t be partying the night away, you can take the opportunity to explore this string of 13 islets.
There’s a reason why TV networks always show the fireworks over the Sydney Opera House on New Year’s Eve: Sydney’s fireworks display is usually one of the largest in the world. An estimated 1.5 million partiers stake out spots all around the harbor to watch the pyrotechnics every year, so find a location early if you want a good view of the show.
This cosmopolitan city on Australia’s southern coast puts on an impressive fireworks displayover the River Torrens at 9 p.m. and midnight. Grab a spot in Elder Park for a picnic and enjoy live concerts all night long.
Brisbane’s Story Bridge is the focal point of the city’s New Year’s Eve celebration. Thousands of tiny lights illuminate the bridge’s frame, providing a gorgeous backdrop for the 30,000 fireworks launched from rooftops and barges in the Brisbane River. Want an even better vantage point? Rent a private gondola on the giant Wheel of Brisbane for a sky-high viewing party.
The New Year’s celebration in this city in the Northern Territory is geared toward families. Expect to find kid-friendly activities like face-painting and free outdoor concerts before the first of two fireworks displays kicks off at 9 p.m. Adults can stay up for the late-night pyrotechnics show at midnight.
Known as Shōgatsu in Japanese, the New Year holiday is traditionally a time of quiet reflection. At midnight, Buddhist temples ring their bells 108 times: eight to end the old year and 100 to welcome the new one). People typically wake up early on New Year’s Day to view the first sunrise of the year (hatsuhinodein Japanese) and visit their local temple or shrine for the first time (hatsumōdein Japanese). Still, the city does host some Western-style celebrations, including a midnight countdown at Tokyo Tower and fireworks at Tokyo Disney.
Though this time zone isn’t officially sanctioned, the small town of Eucla and the surrounding area on Australia’s coast decided to split the difference of the 90-minute time gap between Western Australia and South Australia. You won’t find too many raging parties, but you can ring in the New Year by taking in views of the stunning Bunda Cliffs.
North Korea observes Pyongyang Time, its own time zone half an hour behind neighboring countries like Japan and South Korea. The secretive country actually celebrates the New Year three times: the Gregorian New Year on January 1, the Lunar New Year in late January or February, and the Juche New Year from the official state-sanctioned calendar on April 15. On December 31, you can expect to see photos of North Korea’s annual fireworks display above Kim II Sung Square.
Like New York City, Hong Kong holds its own ball drop at midnight in its own version of Times Square. A spectacular fireworks display will also occur over Victoria Harbor.
Thailand’s northern capital goes all out for holidays and festivals, including New Year’s Eve. In addition to live music and a fireworks show, revelers release thousands of paper lanterns into the sky at midnight. The sight of candlelit lanterns floating into the dark night sky is truly something spectacular.
One of Myanmar’s largest New Year’s Eve celebrations takes place in Kandawgyi Park, a peaceful garden that’s home to an enormous reservoir and the beautiful Shwedagon Pagoda. A massive crowd gathers every year to watch the fireworks at midnight.
In 2016, Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal banned all public gatherings on New Year’s Eve, citing safety concerns. Still, the capital city usually does put on a fireworks show—though you might want to find a hotel rooftop or friend’s apartment to watch them from.
This lively city in central Nepal attracts tourists year-round thanks to its stunning waterfalls, peaceful temples, and striking mountain views. Things get even more exciting at New Year’s when a street festival takes over the city with food stalls, folk performances, and games.
If the idea of ringing in the New Year by partying barefoot on the beach appeals to you, book a trip to Goa this December 31. The global party destination goes all out with midnight parties and fireworks all along the coastline.
Pakistan doesn’t do much to celebrate New Year’s Eve, so you might as well turn your trip into a sightseeing one. Don’t miss historic sites like the impressive Mughal structure at Shahi Qila, the beautiful Badshahi Mosque, and the pristine Shalamar Gardens.
Afghans don’t celebrate New Year’s Day on January 1: Nowruz, the Afghan holiday known as Farmer's Day that starts the first day of the Afghan year, actually takes place on March 21. If you visit Afghanistan, book a guided tour of the country’s largest city with Untamed Borders, or one of the other travel companies that operates there.
Dubai’s over-the-top fireworks display at Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, is legendary. In fact, the show set the record as the world’s largest pyrotechnic show back in 2014. This year, the developer behind Burj Khalifa has hinted that they’ll be putting on an innovative light show instead.
Like in Afghanistan, Iranians also celebrate Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, on March 20. If you find yourself in Tehran on Gregorian New Year’s Eve, you won’t find many parties or public celebrations. Instead, spend that time visiting city landmarks like the Grand Bazaar, National Museum of Iran, and Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art.
Thousands of revelers crowd into Moscow’s Red Square every year, eager to get a good view of the fireworks over St. Basil’s Cathedral. If you don’t want to ring in the new year with several hundred new friends, head to another of the 30 venues hosting fireworks displays.
Every year, nearly a million people pack into the mile-long stretch between Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column for a huge public street party on New Year’s Eve. Live DJs, countless food stalls, laser shows, and the fireworks display at midnight make it one of the world’s most popular celebrations.
So many people crowd the viewing areas along the Thames River for London’s annual fireworks show that revelers now must buy tickets to get a spot. If you can still snag one, the £10 tickets are well worth it for the opportunity to see the spectacular pyrotechnics and hear Big Ben chime.
Spend a warm New Year’s Eve watching fireworks on the beaches of this island nation off the western coast of Africa. After partying the night away and taking a New Year’s Day dip in the ocean, check out the museums, shops, and restaurants in the cultural capital of the archipelago, Mindelo.
There’s no better place to celebrate New Year’s Eve—or Reveillon, as it’s known in Brazil—than Rio de Janeiro. Nearly two million people travel to Rio each year for the legendary New Year’s Eve bash on Copacabana Beach. Revelers wear all white for good luck, and dance the night away to Brazilian samba, rock, and everything in between.
New Year’s Eve in Argentina is often a family affair, with neighbors hosting blowout street parties for their extended families and friends. If you don’t know any locals, stroll through the ritzy Puerto Madero neighborhood for great views of the fireworks.
The oldest city in North America puts on a family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration featuring fireworks and live music. Meanwhile, partiers looking for some more adult entertainment can take advantage of George Street’s many bars.
This year’s New Year’s Eve celebration in Puerto Rico might be a little more subdued while the country continues to recover from devastating hurricanes. But even if hotels aren’t hosting the typical ritzy parties, you can still participate in local traditions like eating 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight for good luck in the coming year.
An estimated one million people crowd into Times Square every year to watch the ball drop on December 31—some lining up as early as that morning for the midnight celebration. While the opportunity to watch the global tradition is truly something special, visitors who prefer not to stand out in the cold all night can get as good of a view from a nearby rooftop bar. Just be prepared to pay a hefty entry fee for any party in the vicinity.
Though it’s hard to compete with the ball drop just one hour prior, Chicago’s fireworks off the Navy Pier still make an exciting way to ring in the New Year. The Windy City hosts a variety of New Year’s Eve parties, including soirees in the Congress Plaza Hotel and on yachts cruising the Chicago River.
The Mile-High City hosts two fabulous fireworks shows—one at 9 p.m. and one at midnight. For the best views, stand along the 16th Street Mall, where you’ll also find magicians, stilt-walkers, balloon artists, and other entertainers. Revelers looking for something swankier can buy tickets to one of Denver’s best parties, from a roaring ‘20s themed party at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House to the three-floor bash at the McNichols Civic Center Building.
Vegas does New Year’s Eve big: The Bellagio alone expects to pop 900 bottles of champagne while the Aria will serve 1,600 plates of filet mignon and 15 pounds of caviar. Watch the fireworks from the strip, which will be closed to vehicle traffic after sundown, or ring in the new year from the dance floor of one of Sin City’s hottest nightclubs.
Alaska’s capital city celebrates the New Year with multiple parties, including an annual block party at the Historic Merchants Wharf, a chef’s tasting at Salt, and big band bash at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center. Brave souls can even join the annual Polar Bear Dip at Auke Recreation Area on New Year’s Day.
This sparsely populated island in the Pacific Ocean makes a tranquil place to spend the holiday. Though you won’t find any nightclubs or concerts here, you can spend New Year’s Day snorkeling in pristine waters, exploring the island on horseback, or visiting Notre Dame Cathedral.
The last place in the United States to experience the New Year, Hawaii rings in 2018 after most New Yorkers have already gone to bed. The big fireworks show in Honolulu takes place on a barge just off Waikiki Beach. One announcement rocket explodes every minute from 11:55pm to midnight, when the real show begins.
This island’s name comes from the fact that it’s almost exactly halfway around the world from Greenwich, England. About 20 people live on the unincorporated United States territory, including U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel. If you want to visit the island, you must get a permit from the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument several months in advance, and arrange transportation from Hawaii.
Only two islands—Baker and neighboring Howland Island—fall in the time zone UTC-12. It’s completely uninhabited, covered in bird dropping, and nearly impossible to get to without the help of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (which sends a boat there once every two years to check on the island). Still, if you’re looking for an extremely remote location to hide out for the end of the year, you've found your spot.