Capture the Celebrative spirit with Kaplan International's Guide to the New Year

The New Year can always mean a new start whenever and wherever it’s celebrated, marking new beginnings as well as noting the past. Countries have their unique spin on this memorable day worldwide, whether on the 1st of January or in the middle of February. What would be your favourite place to celebrate for the New Year? Be sure to read on as we bring a worldwide selection of festive tips this season!

US and the New Year

The US always knows how to celebrate in style and welcoming the upcoming year is no exception. The famous Ball in Times Square, New York is dropped during the countdown to the New Year and is watched by many countries in the world. Las Vegas is another hot spot for festivities with the strip being closed for thousands of partygoers, offering great firework displays and street parties!

Walt Disney World and Disneyland in Florida and California respectively are also bursting with customers, putting on a special New Year’s show after the traditional fireworks display.

On New Year’s Day itself, people are known to take part in what is sometimes known as polar bear plunges, where people gather on beaches and run into the water to celebrate the New Year, at the time where you know it’ll be absolutely freezing! This is usually done as a sponsored event to raise money for charity.



Varying from region to region in Canada, drinking and ice fishing are the usual traditions of the day in rural Quebec. The major parties, street festivals and live music are usually left to Toronto and Montreal.

At Queen Victoria Park, there’s a mixture of free live entertainment with music and firework displays in front of the famous Niagara Falls! Toronto echoes the statement that the best things in life being free with no charge to public transit during New Year’s Eve, as well as the open air concert in front of Toronto City Hall at Nathan Philip’s Square.

Montreal’s Casino offers fine dining and events to mark the occasion.

Polar bear plunges to mark the New Year are also very popular in Canada!


With the famous drones of Big Ben, London celebrates the day with firework displays (the biggest display is centred on the London Eye) and street parties, accompanied by all night tube services. Drinking and toasting with Champagne is traditional in the UK, as well as the act of making resolutions – goals that people wish to accomplish as a new start to the year, but whether they are followed through or not is a different story!

On the day itself, there is a New Year’s Day Parade in London – the biggest New Year’s street event as 10,000 performers make their way through to the West End! Each of the 32 boroughs in London is encouraged to take part, judged as borough entries as part of the event. Heroic acts during the previous year are also honoured at the parade.


Hogmanay is a popular ceremony of welcoming the New Year in Edinburgh, Scotland. They often bring gifts to friends and family members in an act called the First Footing, which traditionally consists of offering whiskey or coal.

Their street party along Princes Street is amongst one of the most popular New Year’s Eve celebrations, as the canon in Edinburgh castle is fired on the start of midnight with an impressive fireworks display. The Scottish capital can count itself very lucky by celebrating the New Year over a 4-5 day period unlike the rest of the UK, as the 2nd of January also counts as a Bank Holiday!



Wales celebrates Calennig – translated roughly to New Year’s celebration/gift and literal meaning of the first day of the year. On this day, the traditional act of giving gifts still stays true today, with bread and cheese being the most popular option and children having apples skewered with raisins and fruit. There is also a lantern parade through the city and firework displays, with celebrations lasting for three days.

Cardiff Castle and Cardiff City Hall are the places to go to celebrate New Year’s in Wales! Attractions include the Admiral Family Fire Show in Cardiff Castle, the Admiral Open Air Ice Rink and John Lewis Wheel.



New Year’s Eve, or Oíche Chinn Bliana in Ireland is a relatively modest affair, with people heading to smaller towns and villages around for celebrations with Kerry, Limerick and Gallway being popular destinations. Fireworks and merry making are carried out around the country with the bell ringing at Christ Church Cathedral as their equivalent of the ball dropping in Times Square.

With a variety of events from Black Tie to Pub Crawls, there is always a great New Year’s experience on offer!



The country with the head start on timing for the New Year holds celebrations around each major city. The most recognised display in Perth is Gloucester Park, using the racecourse in its centre.

The two largest celebrations are in Sydney and Melbourne, the former usually attracting up to 2 million people with light shows and a symbol in the middle of Sydney Harbour Bridge. Cruise boats can also be seen teeming with beautiful fairy lights as part of The Harbour of Lights Parade.

At Port Jackson, the beach is alive with music with shows all the way along its length!

New Zealand


Another of the early birds with the first city to see New Year’s Day (Kiritimati), New Zealand celebrates in a similar vein with street parties and firework displays. A good example of their visual display is the Sky Tower, the tallest in the Southern hemisphere where fireworks are released.

There is also the Prana New Year Blue Moon Festival which celebrates and shares the values of meditation, music, movement and the arts for healing and transformation – and what better time to do that than the New Year?

For those who might find the above a little left-field, there are many party and gig venues. Popular examples include Phat Club, which stages world class outdoor music festivals and Rhythm N Vines, celebrating New Year’s Eve with multiple acts and stages.

So which way would you prefer celebrating the beginning of the New Year? According to a poll on Wikipedia, 62% of people stay at home - usually with friends or family for a party. There is also live broadcast of celebrations going on from around the world that makes popular viewing.


Wherever you are in the year, we wish you a Happy New Year and all the best for future resolutions!

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