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Best Places to Spend New Year’s Eve in 2019

25/12/2018

It’s easy to sneer at New Year’s Eve: too expensive, too crowded, too much pressure to have the greatest night of your life. OK, you could hunker down at home – or you could make it really memorable by hitting up one of the best New Year’s Eve parties in the world. From fireworks blasting across breathtaking backdrops to raucous street parties in cool capitals and all-night raves on blissed-out beaches, there’s no shortage of amazing ways to ring in 2019. So start the year as you mean to go on – on holiday.

 

HONG KONG, CHINA

THE MAIN EVENT

A spectacular pyro-musical display lights up Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour at the stroke of midnight with lasers, fireworks and choreographed LEDs exploding across this frenetic city’s famous landscape. Our tip: forget joining the crush on the waterfront. Instead, watch the show from a traditional junk on the water, or one of HK’s many world-class rooftop bars.

THE LOCAL VIEW

There are a number of quieter venues on the Kowloon side of the water that offer great vantages without big crowds. Wooloomooloo Prime steakhouse in Tsim Sha Tsui has 270-degree, 21st-floor views of the harbour, which can be enjoyed from the balcony or the dining room’s floor-to-ceiling windows. Another hot spot is Red Sugar the Kerry Hotel’s swanky cocktail lounge, with its expansive outdoor terrace.

WHERE TO STAY

This year, it’s got to be Hong Kong’s most exciting new hotel, The Murray. Foster + Partners-designed rooms afford spectacular harbour panoramas; don’t miss the refreshing lemongrass G&Ts at ground-floor bar Murray Lane.

 

 

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND

 

THE MAIN EVENT

The Scottish capital’s famed three-day Hogmanay extravaganza kicks off on 30 December, with a Viking-style torchlight procession along the Royal Mile. The big night itself includes Franz Ferdinand headlining Concert in the Gardens, which wraps in time for gig-goers to catch unequalled views of midnight fireworks over Edinburgh Castle. An adjoining street party dances on into 2019 with the help of acts such as Judge Jules. Celebrations continue on New Year’s Day with live music and the traditional fancy-dress dip in the freezing Firth of Forth (known as ‘the Loony Dook’). For more information on the many events taking place, visit edinburghshogmanay.com.

THE LOCAL VIEW

You probably won’t spot many Edinburgh natives at official Hogmanay festivities for one, entirely rational, reason: they know to be sceptical about the weather. Instead, find the Scots hedging their bets with indoor jollities before bagging a free spot to watch the castle’s midnight display. Smart, boho Stockbridge has a wealth of great pubs: The Scran & Scallie, run by Michelin-starred chefs Tom Kitchin and Dominic Jack, offers laid-back pub grub, but with flair. Then it’s off for a wee dram or two and folk music at nearby basement joint The Bailie Bar, followed by a trip to Inverleith Park, which offers the best free view of the countdown fireworks in the city.

WHERE TO STAY

The Balmoral is the grandest hotel in Edinburgh, and the most comfortable place to recover from Hogmanay celebrations. For something more on-point, Eden Locke, in a New Town Georgian townhouse, offers a perfect storm of millennial pink and Elephant’s Breath, brass detailing, wicker chairs and tropical plants.

 

 

BARCELONA, SPAIN

 

THE MAIN EVENT

Barcelona is a city of night owls, so the revelry doesn’t really start gearing up until about 11pm. That’s when crowds gather at Plaça d’Espanya to watch the midnight pyrotechnics on Montjuïc, the hill just above. A few yards from here, Poble Espanyol, the open-air architectural museum, hosts a huge dance party until 6am.

THE LOCAL VIEW

One of the stranger traditions – other than eating a grape for each chime at midnight (seriously, everyone does it) – takes place at Plaça de Catalunya, in the city centre. As soon as the New Year has been rung in, the assembled thousands throw their Cava bottles into the middle of the square. If that sounds slightly frightening, head instead for the most popular club bashes: Pacha rages from 12.10am to 6.45am, or try Sala Apolo, beloved for resisting scandalous New Year price hikes. The party here kicks off at 12.30am.

WHERE TO STAY

Join the creative crowd at Soho House Barcelona, in a palm-tree-lined square just off the seafront. Along with its speakeasy bar/cinema and basement spa, don’t miss the roof terrace for poolside views of Port Vell marina.

 

 

LISBON, PORTUGAL

 

THE MAIN EVENT

The big blowout in Europe’s new capital of cool is at Praça do Comércio, the main square right on the Tagus River. In typically Portuguese fashion, the fiesta runs late: live music starts up at around 10pm and continues after the midnight fireworks. Plenty of locals – armed with their own fizz and plastic cups – can be found drinking and dancing in the heart of the action, so it doesn’t feel like a tourist trap.

THE LOCAL VIEW

Lisbon’s central Bairro Alto district is always a party locale – thank the lax open-container laws – and NYE here is no exception. Partygoers often head here after the Praça do Comércio fireworks, and the neighbourhood is also home to some outstanding fado houses, where you can watch traditional Portuguese music with dinner. Popular spots include O Faia and Cafe Luso– but they’re not cheap.

WHERE TO STAY

Catch 360-degree city views from the rooftop bar of Verride Palácio Santa Catarina, which stands in solitary splendour at the top of one of Lisbon’s seven hills. This new hotel, tucked behind a handsome 18th-century façade, combines heritage and contemporary with muted colours, raw linens and pale silks; bedrooms overlook the Tagus at the front.

 

 

KOH PHANGAN, THAILAND

THE MAIN EVENT

There are parties on the beaches of Thailand’s islands all year round, but the wildest of them all is New Year’s Eve on Koh Phangan, home to the world’s most famous full-moon party. Revolving around Sunrise Beach in Haad Rin, the maelstrom starts as soon as it gets dark and romps on well beyond sunrise and into the following afternoon.

THE LOCAL VIEW

Go for cocktails and a dinner of freshly caught and grilled fish over on the Sunset side of the island, and don’t even think of joining the party until just before midnight. Then head back to Sunset Beach for a dawn swim.

WHERE TO STAY

The stylish Anantara resort is halfway up the east coast of Koh Phangan, some distance from the party, but the journey home, on a boat through turquoise waters as the sun is coming up, might possibly be the greatest taxi ride you’ve ever taken.

 

 

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL

 

THE MAIN EVENT

It’s practically midsummer in Rio de Janeiro this time of year, which is why many partygoers shun sweaty indoor clubs and take the party to the beach instead. A whopping two million people gather on the 2.5-mile-long Copacabana for samba, Champagne and fireworks on New Year’s Eve – to find a good spot, start staking your place from 10pm. Note that it’s busiest in front of Rio’s landmark hotel, Copacabana Palace, as this is the location for main-stage concerts. It’s customary to wear white in Rio on NYE – said to bring luck for the New Year. But perhaps leave your favourite clothes at home, unless you don’t mind getting doused with Champagne, sprayed F1-style by rapturous crowds.

THE LOCAL VIEW

Lifeguard stations along the beach are called ‘postos’; in-the-know types recommend setting up between Postos 5 and 6. This is the final stretch of Copacabana, so it’s not quite as crowded; plus, it’s walking distance from the parties at neighbouring Ipanema, where many revellers head after the countdown fireworks.

WHERE TO STAY

To go all out, Copacabana Palace has exclusive views of the action (and a price tag to match). For something more affordable but with similarly breathtaking views, the Mama Ruisa hotel is a lovely guesthouse with a vintage, homely feel.

 

 

 

 

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA

 

THE MAIN EVENT

The mother of all celebrations in the Mother City is on the V&A Waterfront, where there’s everything you could possibly require in one handy spot: dinner, live music, dancing, fireworks. Plus, there are views of Table Mountain and the Atlantic shore. It’s spectacular – but if you want a party with a more local flavour, you have to head for the sand.

THE LOCAL VIEW

A sunset picnic on Clifton 4th Beach, a gorgeous cove in the affluent Clifton neighbourhood, is a popular choice for Capetonians. Then it’s time to hit one of the city’s many glam beach clubs. The hottest ticket: Pacha’s elite soirée at Grand Africa, on the Grand’s private beach, facing Robben Island.

WHERE TO STAY

Sitting atop the V&A Waterfront’s much-feted Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, The Silo is the very definition of a destination hotel. Rooms are a happy marriage of vibrant silks and velvets in deep purple and bottle green, while the ballroom-worthy bathrooms are lit by Egyptian-crystal chandeliers. There’s no other hotel like this in Cape Town right now – certainly nowhere approaching its punchy price tag or bravado.

 

From Conde Nast Traveller

 

 

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