Top 10 Places to Celebrate the New Year

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Bucket List Worthy  

Will this be the year that you leave the Scrabble board in its box, let the fondue set continue to gather dust, and take flight for a New Year’s celebration to remember? As fun as it is to gather friends around and watch your favourite DVDs for the umpteen-millionth time, or indulge your cravings for cheese balls and Baby Duck, let us remind you that there’s a whole world out there waiting to celebrate with you and perhaps now is the time to upgrade your plans.

Here are our top picks for places to travel to mark the New Year with a bang:

Hogmanay Scotland – Hogmanay has all the best New Year’s traditions wrapped into one festive package that lasts for days. Torchlight processions parade through the streets as the boisterous energy of ceilidhs and rock concerts pervades the air, and revellers enjoy traditional Scottish treats like black buns and, of course, whisky while being entertained by street performers and dancing in the streets themselves. While it is celebrated all over Scotland, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations are the most exuberant and draw visitors from far and wide. Singing Auld Lang Syne at the stroke of midnight might seem a bit cliched to you now, but it will take on new meaning when you do it in the place where it originated, and bring back fond memories every time hereafter. │ Find cheap flights to Scotland

Swedish border sign in Tornio Finland/Sweden – If your favourite part of New Year’s Eve is the electrifying anticipation of counting down to midnight, or you need an excuse to give your sweetheart another New Year’s kiss, then head to Tornio, Finland and enjoy all the thrills of ringing in 2012, then hop in a car and travel back in time and do it all again in a different country. Haparanda, Sweden is only a five-minute drive away, but it’s in a separate time zone and therefore celebrates the New Year an hour later, making it easy to double your pleasure. │ Find cheap flights to FinlandFind cheap flights to Sweden

New Zealand – For some people, being first is paramount. Those people should ship out to Kiribati or Samoa, which are the first places across the International Date Line. At the risk of angering some gloriously gigantic Samoans out there, I suggest that the slightly less extreme among us grab flights to New Zealand and party in a more happening place like Auckland while still being one of the first to usher in 2012. │ Find cheap flights to New Zealand

Japan – If a little sprawl and brawl is more your style than firecrackers and singalongs, book tickets to Japan where a dream line-up of mixed martial arts fighters will take to the octagon at Saitama Super Arena in the Fight for Japan. Included on the card are reigning champions Shinyu Aoki and Hiroyuki Takaya who will put their respective belts on the line and defend their titles on December 31st.│Find cheap flights to Japan

Austria – For a more refined way to start 2012, waltz onto flights to Vienna and enjoy the annual New Year’s Concert by the Vienna Philharmonic, which has taken place on January 1st every year since 1939. This swanky event typically includes works by composers such as Strauss, Mozart, and Schubert. While you’re in Austria, why not squeeze in some skiing or snowboarding in Kitzbuhl or Innsbruck? │Find cheap flights to Austria

photo by backintheworld

Toronto – Leave the ball gown and family jewels at home,  don your Speedo and plunge into Lake Ontario on New Year’s Day at Canada’s largest polar bear dip, which takes place in Oakville. Before you do, screw your courage to the sticking place by letting loose at New Year’s Eve parties in Toronto’s Entertainment District, or acclimatize yourself to the cold at the colourful festivities in Niagara Falls. │ Find cheap flights to Toronto

Cape Town – January 2nd is the big day in this part of the world, which has been celebrating Tweede Nuwe Jaar (Second New Year) since the 19th Century. In the era of slavery in South Africa it was the only day of the year that slaves in the Cape were given off work, and this meant it became a day for jubilation and joyous abandon.  The highlight is the Minstrel Carnival, an event that is often likened to Mardi Gras because of its colourful parade, roving musicians, and dancing in the streets. │ Find cheap flights to Cape Town

 

Rave photo by tuxthepenguin84
photo by tuxthepenguin84

Vancouver – Sip champagne and dance the night away at a posh gala atop Grouse Mountain, crawl the bars and clubs downtown, or feel the pulsating beats at a massive rave at Pacific Coliseum, then wash your sins away with a dip in English Bay as the newest inductee into the Vancouver Polar Bear Swim Club. │ Find cheap flights to Vancouver

Russia – New Year’s celebrations have been a big deal in Russia since the reign of Peter the Great, but even moreso during the Soviet era when religious events such as Christmas were discouraged. Sumptuous meals and fine wine are the order of the day, especially if you’re lucky enough to be invited to celebrate at someone’s home, but clubs and discotheques are always happening as well, and fireworks blaze across the skyline at midnight. For a truly out there experience, you can book a tour to Siberia celebrate with the locals. │ Find cheap flights to Russia

New York – Sure you can watch Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve from the comfort of home, but, like mud wrestling or the running of the bulls, New Year’s Eve in Times Square is much better experienced in person. Embrace your inner monster and watch Lady Gaga perform while  secretly hoping that the ball will malfunction and fall on Justin Bieber, spontaneously rendering him able to write better songs. │ Find cheap flights to New York

Times Square New Year's Ball
photo by Tom Giebel

About the Author: Steph Spencer

Formerly the Editor of Let's Roll, now you're more likely to find Steph prowling the halls of incredible museums, hunting for historic landmarks, discovering mind-blowing science and literary attractions, tracking down the world’s largest whatchamacallit or attending wacky festivals. She is a freelance travel writer who explores the geeky side of travel on her blog A Nerd At Large, and dispenses random quirkiness on Google+ and as @ANerdAtLarge on Twitter.

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