6 alternative ways to celebrate New Years’ Eve
Arguably, life is too short to spend New Years’ Eve wandering around your home city, in search of a crammed venue which may or may not let you through its doors to exchange years’ end greetings with strangers.
Take the strangers and the greetings (they’re fun!), and transpose them into an entirely different setting for our pick of alternative NYE celebrations around the world.
1) Japan: scale Mount Takao for the first sunrise of 2016
As is traditional in much of Japan, take to the mountains to witness the sun’s first stunning appearance as a New Year dawns. You can combine this with a break in Tokyo and visit Mount Takao, a convenient 50km away, by train and cable car into the foothills. You’ll share the experience and the view with loads of locals and visitors, made more precious by a musical accompaniment of conch shells played at the nearby temple.
Stay up at: Tokyo – HI Tokyo Central YH
2) Scotland: first-foot a random and spread New Year cheer
Particularly well-received if you’re tall, dark and handsome, Scottish Hogmanay (New Year) folklore dictates that the first person to enter a house (or first-footer) on New Years’ Day will bring good fortune in the year ahead. When Christmas is over, Scotland throws itself into full party throttle with street festivals, public entertainment, spectacular fire displays and possibly a Scotch whiskey to keep the fire in your belly burning.
Stay up at: Edinburgh Central SYHA
3) Switzerland: NYE in the Alps, with a spot of santa-swimming
Fancy watching fireworks dance in a lake like a whirlpool of rainbows among soaring mountainous peaks? Head with 200,000 others to the stunning city of Zurich. “Samichlaus-Schwimmen” is a somewhat unusual – and therefore all the more popular – Zurich tradition. Every December, hardened swimmers dressed in Santa Claus costumes brave the freezing temperatures and swim across the icy-cold River Limmat.
Still beautiful and yet beating (some of) the crowds, get your groove on at Big Bash Davos, where Swiss international stars will keep you entertained. At nearby Klosters, opt for a round of traditional pig racing, with ten super cute piglets competing to bring good luck in the New Year.
Stay up at: Davos Youthpalace ¦ Klosters Youth Hostel ¦ Zürich Youth Hostel
4) Italy: win an ox in Bologna
Never mind a kiss at midnight; you’re better off starting the New Year with your very own Ox. In Bologna, this is made possible through the Fiera del Bue Grasso (Fat Ox Fair) during which a decorated, flower-adorned Ox is paraded through the city at midnight to the dulcet tones of New Year bells, fireworks and excited yelling. A raffle is then held, and one lucky person gets to keep him/ her. Good luck getting this horned creature through customs on the way home.
Stay up at: Bologna – Due Torri-San Sisto
5) Canada: enjoy the firework display of a lifetime at Niagara Falls
Be brought to tears this New Year (in a good way) at the Niagara Falls New Year’s concert in Queen Victoria Park (QVP). The New Year show includes two spectacular firework displays: with one at 8.30 and another at midnight, you’re treated to resplendent shows throwing up burning streaks of colour across the skies, as magnificent bodies of water bursts forth beneath them. Along with the display, you will also be serenaded by musicians from local indie acts, through to the likes of Nick Jonas.
Stay up at: HI – Niagara Falls (Canada)
6) Australia: Sydney fireworks view from your hostel rooftop
Sydney’s harbour fireworks display may be a popular and spectacular option for NYE – but the panoramic perspective we’re offering is certainly a rarity. You seriously cannot get a better view than from the rooftop of Sydney Central YHA. The hostel offers approximately 100 terrace tickets each NYE, which go on sale in April and generally sell out within the hour. If this is something that’s on your bucket list then you’d better start planning for 2017! Sydney Central YHA and Railway Square YHA are also situated within walking distance to Circular Quay where all the action happens.
Stay up at: Sydney Central YHA
Got some more suggestions for us? Leave us a comment below.