IF you’re looking for a good New Year’s Eve party spot you’re in the right part of the world. Asia and the Pacific know how to enjoy this time of the year and these five locations should have you ringing it in in style from excellent firework displays to rooftop parties and traditional religious customs.
Head to Sydney for one of the world’s best firework shows. Stake your spot early anywhere around the harbour and settle in for a day of festivities, or head somewhere like Bondi Beach where there’s always a party going on somewhere with a DJ or two. The great thing about New Year’s Eve in Sydney isn’t just the fantastic waterside location, but it’s summer time in Australia and that means you won’t freeze to death in the small hours of the morning like other big party cities, like, say, New York or London.
While the Japanese do tend to return homes to celebrate New Year with their families, there are some really interesting things to do here. One tradition at this time of year is to join the crowds doing hatsumode – the year’s first visit to a shrine or temple. Pretty much every single shrine/temple will have Hatsumode festivities going on but the really popular one in Tokyo is Meiji Shrine – if you go be prepared to wait in line. For good nightlife action in Tokyo head to Shibuya Crossing and eat out at Ameyokocho, a market street near Ueno Station. Japanese also like to watch NHK’s Kohaku, a TV show with J-pop stars, so if you spend the night at someone’s home consider yourself pre warned that this may form the evening’s entertainment.
The vibrant capital city of Thailand comes alive on New Year’s Eve with events, parties and galas held across the city in hotels, clubs, restaurants and along the riverfront. Central World Square is a good public gathering point that has a television screen featuring the countdown in other major centres, so you may get to celebrate new year’s eve more than once! Venues at RCA or along Khao San and Silom Roads will also be busy. If you can afford it the other option is to head to the city’s biggest rooftop party, the Altitude New Years Eve party, at the Imperial Queen’s Park Tower. Alternatively take a cruise along the riverfront for an excellent view of the city fireworks.
New Zealand gets the first New Year’s celebrations in the world thanks to its geographic position. While the celebrations in Auckland are the biggest in the country, there are other options. Gisborne on the North Island is the first major city to see the new year in and there’s always something going on with a good crowd. Dunedin is also a particularly good place to head to on the soutth island with a wonderful free concert in the Octagon. There are also a number of excellent music concerts held around the country. The Rhythm and Vines festival on the east coast of the North Island is a popular place to see in the new year.
In Hong Kong New Year’s Eve is actually celebrated twice – once for the western calendar and once for the Chinese calendar. On December 31 Victoria Harbour is the best place to go for a pyrotechnical display lighting up the entire waterfront area. Like all popular places you need to go early for a prime spot. Alternatively get a skyscraper view or head out on the water itself. Views are also good in Kowloon along the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront or the New Central Harbourfront on Hong Kong Island. Hong Kong also simulates the Times Square countdown with their own ball drop in the shopping mall. There’s alwasy live music and entertainment here. Luxury hotels usually put on their own parties around the city, although the price doesn’t come cheap. The alternative is bars and restaurants in Lan Kwai Fong.