The 5 Best Places to Celebrate the New Year

How was your 2017? Amazing? Adequate? The less said the better? As the last days of the year slip away – it doesn’t matter. There’s a whole new year ahead, and it’s time for a party! The great cities of the world are in the last stages of frantic preparation to welcome in the New Year with their most dazzling displays – so where’s the best place to be when midnight strikes? Take a look at five of our favorite New Year’s destinations.


1. Sydney, Australia

Sydney New Years fireworks
You can catch the firework show from any side of the harbor


As the first major city to welcome the New Year, Sydney likes to show the rest of us how it’s done. After an air show, a ceremony celebrating Aboriginal culture and an early firework display for children (or impatient adults), illuminated ships dance across the water for the Harbour of Light Parade. But it’s at midnight that Sydney really dazzles, as fireworks launch from the Harbour Bridge, filling the sky above the Sydney Opera House with color.

Top tip: There are free and ticketed vantage points across the city, but we suggest heading to the Royal Botanic Gardens and finding a place on the edge of Farm Cove. If you’re studying at our Manly Beach English school, you can catch the firework display on the East and West Esplanades at Manly Cove.


2. Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh New Years fireworks
This is definitely a holiday the whole city gets involved in


The Scots take New Year’s Eve very seriously, and even have their own name for it: Hogmanay. In Edinburgh this means far more than a one-night party – it’s a festival of music, dancing and food lasting three days. You can be part of a torchlight procession on December 30th, join one of the world’s biggest street parties on New Year’s Eve itself, and join the brave (or foolish) who celebrate New Year’s Day by jumping into the freezing waters of the Firth of Forth at “Loony Dook”!

This year Rag ‘n’ Bone Man headlines at the Concert in the Gardens, with more live acts appearing on three stages around Princes’ Street. Meanwhile you’ll find proof that traditional dances can get wild too at the Ceilidh under the Castle.

Top tip: Many events are ticketed, so book early. But you can watch the fireworks for free from Inverleith Park or Carlton Hill.

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3. New York, USA

New York New Years fireworks
Where better to be than one of the most iconic New Years destinations?


Ever wondered why New Yorkers see in the New Year with the iconic ball drop in Times Square? In 1907, the city banned fireworks. New York Times publisher Adolph Ochs wanted a new kind of spectacle to draw in the crowds, and took inspiration from the even older maritime custom of “time balls.” Tracking time is crucial to accurate navigation, so in the early 19th Century the major ports of the world set up large balls on high masts to signal the time to ships offshore. The ball would drop at either noon or 1pm, to allow sailors to adjust their chronometers.   

Nowadays, New York’s festivities showcase the largest crystal ball in the world, and there’s no need to worry about missing the fireworks: there’s a display every hour as well as the final burst as the ball drops. Be warned – to get a good view you’ll need to be in the Square by 3 or 4 pm; you can’t save your spot if you leave; you’re not allowed to bring a bag and there are no public bathrooms! But it’s free, and you’ll be rewarded by performances from some of music’s top stars.

Top tip: If you want to avoid the hectic crowds, head for the Brooklyn Bridge to watch fireworks all across the city. For students studying at our Empire State school, you can book a ticket for the observatory deck to get the best panoramic views of the city and the firework display.


4. London, United Kingdom

London New Years fireworks
See Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in all their glory with a stunning firework backdrop


London is Sydney’s main rival for the “Best New Years Fireworks” crown, and it certainly has a great backdrop to work with. You’ll see the very latest and most spectacular in state-of-the-art pyrotechnics here, and Big Ben and the Houses of Westminster look more dramatic than ever when bathed in the light of 12,000 fireworks!

Tickets for the official vantage points are only £10, but if they’re sold out or you want to avoid the crowds, the city is full of places where you can watch for free.

Top tip: Cannon Street offers excellent views, but be there early – it gets busy. If you’d prefer a more panoramic view, head out to Primrose Hill.


5. Niagara Falls, Canada

Niagara Falls New Years fireworks
Experience one of the natural wonders of the world illuminated in spectacular colors


Even the most iconic city skyline can’t compete with one of nature’s most amazing spectacles. Every year the City of Niagara welcomes 30,0000 people to a free party in Queen Victoria Park, on the edge of the majestic falls – only a few hours drive from our Toronto English school. After performances by some of Canada’s top musical talent, a magnificent light show and firework display turns the white expanse of churning water all the colors of the rainbow.


Where do you hope to be in 2018? Maybe now’s the time to fulfill that running resolution you have every year and finally learn English abroad – imagine all the amazing things you can do! Share your plans, past experiences and resolutions with us on our Facebook page or in the comment section below.

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