New Year’s Eve Destinations


Sure, New York City is famous for the ball drop at midnight on New Year’s Eve, but there are plenty of other terrific destinations you can ring in 2023, from festive big cities to more relaxing, intimate spots.

My pick for New Year’s Eve is Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Besides escaping from the cold winter of the Northern hemisphere, Rio is my favorite New Year’s Eve destination. The city has a magnificent and unique personality that offers beauty, vibes, and an ultimate fun time. The famous beach of Copacabana receives over three million people on the night of December 31st to enjoy live shows and the largest firework spectacle in the world (about 30 minutes). On that night, everybody wears white, a tradition from African religions, to bring peace to the new year. Besides that, several other parties are happening in all corners of the city, providing all sorts of experiences visitors want to have while enjoying multiple angles of this gorgeous city. One of the main characteristics of Rio is the nonstop party; you will quickly get that when you arrive in the city.  

Rio is a fantastic New Year’s Eve destination if you want sunshine, beaches, amazing parties, adventure, or relaxation. 

Madrid is always a nice city to visit. Spain is regularly chosen as one of the best places in the world to spend New Year’s Eve. People get to the streets all around the city, but the main action happens in Puerta del Sol, a square in Madrid City Center, where the countdown happens in the clock of the Casa del Correos. Madrid offers a mix of fun and sophistication. You can enjoy a fabulous meal and a bottle of Spanish wine or cava in one of the charming restaurants or rooftops of the city, as you can go to the streets to feel the festive Spanish energy and join one of the super fun parties the city offers.

New Orleans knows how to throw a party year-round, and New Year’s Eve is no exception. The main event occurs in the French Quarter’s historic Jackson Square, with a fleur-de-lis drop at midnight followed by fireworks over the Mississippi River. You won’t have a problem finding a place to celebrate, with parties taking place in the city’s hotels, restaurants, bars, and clubs. The Sugar Bowl Parade, a Mardi Gras-style celebration with floats and bands, rolls through the French Quarter on the afternoon of Dec. 30.  

Perhaps you’re not into big celebrations and want a quiet place to spend time outdoors with someone special. One option is Sedona, Arizona, where you can enjoy the breathtaking landscape of the Southwest, choose from numerous hiking trails, and get a spa treatment. Sedona’s sights include its stunning red rock formations, wineries, and the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village, where you can browse works by local artisans. The Grand Canyon’s South Rim, open year-round, is about a two-hour drive away. 

If you want to escape the cold, the Caribbean offers lots of sunny and restful places to ring in the new year. Nassau, in the Bahamas, has beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters perfect for scuba diving and snorkeling. Junkanoo, a four-day carnival-like celebration that showcases Bahamian culture and traditions, begins Dec. 26 and runs to New Year’s Day. For a more intimate getaway, the Bahamas’ Harbour Island is famous for its picturesque pastel-colored cottages and the Pink Sand Beach.  

Hogmanay is the Scottish word for the last day of the year, and Edinburgh celebrates the occasion with a Hogmanay Festival. The three-day event is one of the world’s greatest outdoor New Year’s Eve celebrations, with a torchlight parade, massive street party, concerts, and fireworks. At midnight, revelers join hands to sing Auld Lang Syne, the words penned by Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns. On New Year’s Day, you can watch — or join in — the Loony Dook, in which people venture into the cold waters of the River Forth, often dressed in costumes. 

Paris is one of the world’s most romantic destinations, with numerous possibilities for New Year’s Eve. You can spend the evening taking in the city’s landmarks on a cruise along the Seine, complete with classic French cuisine, champagne, music, and dancing. You could also enjoy a concert at a small club or take in a show at a cabaret, like the legendary Moulin Rouge. One of the city’s most famous boulevards, the Champs-Elysees, will be shut down to traffic, so you can enjoy the dazzling holiday lights and Christmas markets. At midnight, there’ll be fireworks over the Arc de Triomphe.  

Looking for a New Year’s Eve trip? Allow Elite Wanderings to help you with your perfect holiday.