NEW YEAR’S EVE
by Kathryn Brooks and Steven Jenkins
Let’s face it, New Year’s Eve can be disappointing. Raucous crowds, over-priced meals and horrendous traffic keep many of us at home. Barely able to stay awake until the clock strikes midnight, the evening never lives up to its hype.
Well, we vote for breaking from the same-old and getting out of town. Here are a dozen New Year’s Eve trips that are sure to be memorable. From black-tie celebrations and beach parties to music festivals and vibrant fireworks lighting up iconic landmarks and city skylines, we’ve charted a dozen of the most spectacular and desirable destinations to welcome in 2019 with renewed optimism.
Watching the Eiffel Tower shimmer in the night sky is one of the most magical views imaginable, a stunning scene for welcoming in the new year. The most glamorous way to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Paris is to book a hotel suite that offers a bird’s-eye-view of the cultural icon, such as The Shangri-La, Plaza Athénée, The Peninsula, or the recently refurbished Hôtel de Crillon. If you want to be in the center of the celebration, venture to Champs-Élysées, where crowds gather each year to watch the spectacular light show and fireworks around the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile.
NEW YORK CITY
Since 1907, crowds have flooded into Times Square on New Year’s Eve to watch the ball drop. It’s an iconic scene that is broadcast across the world each year: more than a million revelers framed by the Americana glow of flashing billboards. From December 1 through 29, a Wishing Wall was set up in Times Square Plaza, where people shared their hopes and dreams for the year ahead on slips of paper. At midnight on New Year’s Eve, those notes will be released as confetti and sent into the universe as 2019 begins. If crowding into the main event sounds daunting, the city offers many options for those seeking more refined and intimate affairs. There are cocktail parties taking place all over town: there’s the annual black-tie celebration at Top of the Standard, with a live performance by The Pointer Sisters, dancing on the rooftop at Ian Schrager’s PUBLIC, live jazz at The Carlyle’s iconic Bemelmans Bar on the Upper East Side or watch the ball drop from above the crowds at the roaring ‘20s-inspired VIP party at Elsie Rooftop, located on Broadway between 39th and 40th Streets. The Empire State Building will also be illuminated with an LED light show, best observed from the Rainbow Room at the Rockefeller Center.
With a variety of nightlife options opening just in time for the height of the ski season, Aspen is on fire. There’s the EMP Winter House pop-up launching in the St. Regis next week, where groups can enjoy aprés-ski cocktails in the Instagram-friendly yurt village, 7908 supper club, and the ultra-chic basement bar, Bad Harriet. The winter wonderland comes alive during the holidays, and New Year’s Eve is always an appealing time to visit. Book into the iconic Caribou Club for the prix fixe dinner and enjoy cocktails in the cozy lounge before DJs and dancing, or head over to the Dom Pérignon party at The Little Nell and watch the fireworks display over Aspen Mountain at midnight.
TURKS & CAICOS
Not yet saturated with tourists, Turks & Caicos is the Caribbean’s most beautiful archipelago.Vacationing here for New Year’s Eve is a popular choice for those seeking a side of relaxation with their revelry. Visitors can embrace the Junkanoo festival, a cultural procession of masqueraders dancing to the rhythm of drums, cowbells and other native instruments, on the 31st and return to uncrowded white sand beaches to lap up the sun the following day. The best place for groups and families is The Shore Club, which recently unveiled six super-modern 8,800 square foot villas containing heated pools and sprawling private courtyards on the exclusive Long Bay Beach.
If the image of a balmy evening spent sipping bubbly in a picturesque vineyard seems enticing, venture to New Zealand, where summer is in full swing. Music festivals are hosted around the country for New Year’s Eve, including the notorious Rhythm & Vines concert in Gisborne, which holds the title of the the first place to welcome the sunrise in the new year, Rhythm & Alps in Wanaka and Wondergarden in Auckland City’s Silo Park. For something more low key, venture over to Waiheke Island (a 40-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland) and visit one of the gorgeous vineyards to watch the sun set over the city skyline.
Seeing the Northern Lights is an experience that’s high on many bucket lists, and the holiday season is the best time of year to do it. They can be observed from around the country, but are most visible from areas where light pollution is at a minimum. If you’re making the journey for New Year’s Eve, head to Reykjavík where a brilliant pyrotechnics display is unleashed around 11:35 p.m. as 200,000 people — basically the entire population of the capital — set off around 500 tons of fireworks. After midnight, the nightclubs and pubs remain open and the celebrations extend into the following day.
The first major international city to ring in the new year at midnight, Sydney’s Harbour Bridge and Opera House are illuminated with a rainbow of fireworks. One of the best vantage points to see the show is the luxurious Park Hyatt, located right in the center of the celebrations in The Rocks. This year, the hotel is hosting a sophisticated rooftop cocktail party with a live DJ, canapes, and an endless flow of Veuve Clicquot champagne. Many observers also opt for booking restaurants around the harbor or chartering boats with groups of friends to watch the displays from the water. Locals tend to venture to the glossy Eastern Suburb’s like Double Bay and Bondi, which have lively restaurants and nightclubs that remain unaffected by the Central Business District’s lockout laws which took effect in 2014. Some of the most picturesque places, though, are best experienced during the day, including Icebergs, Watson’s Bay Boutique Hotel, and the stunning rooftop bar at the Intercontinental Double Bay.
The dramatic Hong Kong skyline provides the perfect backdrop for the ‘musical fireworks’ that light up Victoria Harbour each year. From 11 p.m., multimedia and pyrotechnic displays take place every 15 minutes, with bursts of shimmering lights. Rather than cramming into the waterfront, ascend to the 118th floor of the ICC Tower in Kowloon and take in the view from the spectacular Ozone Bar at the Ritz-Carlton, which holds the record as the highest bar in the world.
RIO DE JANEIRO
Over two million people gather in Rio de Janeiro’s on New Year’s Eve to celebrate until sunrise and watch the annual festivities. Known as the Reveillon, it’s quite the scene: dancing, music, fireworks and classic Brazilian performances. But the highlight of the evening takes place on Copacabana Beach where the indigenous people, who have traveled from the interior of Brazil, gather. Wearing all white clothing, a color believed to ward away evil spirits, they chant to Iemanjá, the goddess of the sea, and leave offerings. At midnight, they enter the sea and jump seven waves. It is believed that by doing this, one will invoke the powers of the goddess for the year ahead. The best place to experience the big bash is at the luxurious Copacabana Palace, which is located right in the center of the action. This year, the iconic beachfront hotel will have a live band and an all-night pool party with music by local DJ Guga Weigert.
The iconic Big Ben and the London Eye provide a stunning backdrop for the city’s annual New Year’s Eve fireworks display. The event is so popular that it has been ticketed since 2014, and although it’s already sold out this year, you can still observe the action from elevated venues around the river including Aqua Shard, The Savoy, and The Corinthia. Londoners know how to have a jolly good time, and of course, revelers will be celebrating all over town: from the hipster bars of Brick Lane, to the chic establishments of Mayfair, the Natural History Museum, which is hosting its annual dance party as well as cruises along the Thames River.
The Caribbean jewel of St. Barths is a jet-set favorite for spending New Year’s Eve. One of the main local traditions is the regatta race around the island, perfect for those feeling particularly adventurous before the champagne starts flowing in the evening. This year, Nikki Beach will be hosting its beachfront ball, where guests are invited to dress-up in surrealism-themed attire inspired by Salvador Dali and Joan Miro. Refined celebrations will be taking place at beachfront resorts around the island, including the star players, Hotel Christopher, Eden Rock, Le Sereno, and the ultra-chic Cheval Blanc, which will be popping vintage Moët & Chandon at its White Bar alongside DJ Phillipe Paris.
For dazzling romance and relaxation, the Maldives is hard to beat. The nation is dotted with almost 1,200 coral islands featuring some of the most jaw-dropping resorts on the planet. Book an overwater bungalow at the Four Seasons, Amilla Fushi, or the One&Only Reethi Rah for the ultimate in Maldivian luxury. Like many high-end island destinations, the resorts each host intimate events on New Year’s Eve for guests only.