While Times Square in New York City is on the top of just about everyone’s New Year’s Eve party list, if you don’t want to join one of the world’s biggest crowds, check out one of these destinations instead. From exciting U.S. and international cities to unique places you probably haven’t considered, you’re sure to find your ideal spot to celebrate here.
Honolulu (Nearby Hotels)
Honolulu offers the chance to enjoy tropical scenery, warm temperatures, snorkeling, surfing, historic attractions, and much more. Enjoy all of that and a spectacular fireworks show that’s shot off a barge near Waikiki Beach just as the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve. The Party of the Year at Aloha Tower is the city’s biggest end of the year bash, featuring seven stages with live music and DJs as well as multiple food trucks serving a diverse array of delicious food and drink.
Harbin, China (Nearby Hotels)
Although the Chinese New Year isn’t celebrated until February, Harbin also celebrates the coming year with a countdown in front of Saint Sophia Cathedral on December 31, but the main reason to go is the Ice City’s popular Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. While it doesn’t officially begin until a few days after the New Year, the parks open on Christmas Eve so you can see the stunning ice displays lit in brilliant LED lights. You’ll see world-record-sized snow sculptures that are longer than two football fields, ice buildings, palaces, monuments, and even 160-foot statues that you can walk and slide around in and on.
Niagara Falls, Ontario (Nearby Hotels)
By heading to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls you’ll not only have the chance to get up close to one of the world’s most breathtaking sights, but you can enjoy a free concert in Queen Victoria Park and a fireworks display that’s hosted at 9 p.m. and again at midnight, all right in front of the thundering cascades. Other attractions here include the Niagra Fallsview Casino Resort where you can try your luck at the slots and fine dining with amazing views of the falls some 775 feet above in the Revolving Dining Room at the Skylon Tower.
Quito, Ecuador (Nearby Hotels)
The capital of Ecuador is the gateway to one of the world’s most unique ecosystems, the Amazon, home to everything from monkeys, jaguars and colorful birds to caimans, iguanas and anacondas. But the city itself is a great place to spend New Year’s Eve to attend the nation’s long-standing tradition of burning “los años viejos,” the old years. Scarecrow-like effigies are made of well-known people that are disliked, or simply just famous. You may see lists of sins tacked onto the bodies that are then lit on fire at the strike of midnight strikes. There’s also plenty of street music, dancing, and beer.
Miami, Florida (Nearby Hotels)
Miami is a city that’s renowned for its parties – on the beaches and in the nightclubs, which are filled with Latin heat and glamour. This is your chance to dance the night away at a trendy club, watch big-name performances and marvel at one of the biggest fireworks displays on the East Coast.
Reykjavik, Iceland (Nearby Hotels)
Reykjavik is fast becoming one of the top spots to spend New Year’s Eve on the planet. Iceland’s capital throws a massive party with the celebration including bonfires, known as “brenna,” in each district of the city, which are meant to symbolize the burning away of the previous year’s troubles. Thousands of fireworks light up the sky, while the flame-fueled gatherings typically feature lots of drinking, folk songs and people dressed up as elves and trolls. With luck on your side, you may see the northern lights make an appearance as well, complementing the already impressive pyrotechnic displays.
Chicago (Nearby Hotels)
The Windy City pulls out all the stops on New Year’s Eve, with a celebration along the Chicago River. It hosts a six-hour-long, free extravaganza that includes lots of parties at multiple venues, live entertainment, a huge fireworks display, and, of course, a countdown to 2018.
Paris, France (Nearby Hotels)
If you’re looking for an especially romantic celebration, it would be hard to beat Paris, where you can catch an incredible light show and fireworks display at the iconic Eiffel Tower. Or, embark on a New Year’s Eve boat cruise along the Seine for a little privacy and a fabulous vantage point.
Seattle (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Seattle’s annual New Year’s Eve fireworks display is often ranked on lists of the very best in the country. More than 10,000 fireworks light up the sky, bursting from 60 locations across three levels of the iconic Space Needle. The Needle also hosts a dance party and six-course dinners in its rotating restaurant. You can enjoy a great view of the show from the observation deck, but watching from the water, where an unobstructed view is guaranteed, is especially unforgettable, with cruise ships positioned in the heart of Elliott Bay.
Berlin (Nearby Hotels)
Berlin is renowned for its parties, including the festivities that celebrate the New Year. Around a million visitors are expected to gather at the Brandenburg Gate to welcome in 2018. “Party Mile,” as it’s called, extends from the 18th-century neoclassical monument, and is lined with multiple food and drink tents that serve mulled wine, beer and local German specialties like currywurst – pork sausage topped with a curry-laced ketchup. There are stages for performances, light and laser shows, as well as a massive firework display that begins right at midnight as Berliners and visitors toast the New Year in.
Madeira, Portugal (Nearby Hotels)
Madeira is famous for its stunning natural beauty, with nearly a hundred miles of coastline and dazzling views around every corner. There are a host of scenic hiking trails, and even a collection of crystal clear natural swimming pools, while its main city, Funchal, is home to pretty historic churches and puts on a bit New Year celebration. On this island that shares its name with a wine that put it on the map, you can expect ever-flowing vino in its festivities. The restaurants offer special seafood and wine dinners, while a massive party is hosted on the streets and on the beaches. Enjoy fireworks over the ocean while sipping wine, wine and more wine until the sun comes up.
Naples, Italy (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Italian’s love their holidays, a good party and fireworks, so you know New Year’s Eve just about anywhere here is going to be a good time, but Naples enjoys some of the biggest and best festivities of all. Not only do people here still celebrate the old tradition of throwing out old furniture and other household items from their windows to make room and prepare coming year, but you can watch fireworks displays from all over the city, with the entire sky lighting up for at least an hour.