New Year's Eve Party Guide!
The Purveyors of Partying Have All the Hot – And Not – Spots
New Year's Eve is one of the best times of the year IF you know where to party.
The world's biggest combined party is New Year's Eve. It starts around Sydney and travels time zone by time zone around the globe like some sort of well-coordinated pre-planned pyrotechnic explosion.
It's the only time when nations, religions, festivals and other regional or local occasions cease to become a factor. Pretty much everyone and everyplace around the globe recognizes the New Year with some type of celebration.
Because of the scale of the night, one eternal question burns: Where is the BEST place to spend this momentous occasion? As the prime purveyors of partying, PubClub.com is proud to answer that question in this Guide to the Best Places to Party on New Year's Eve.
This guide focuses on major city events and parties – official or otherwise – and not private or paid events put on by promoters. We have included links to each city's visitor's bureau.
And, in breaking with traditional thinking, we even point out where NOT to celebrate. These are places that would seem to be great spots but, for reasons we point out, just aren't worth the time, money and effort.
One tip: If this is the only night of the year you go out, stay home. Because so many people try and do a year's worth of partying on this one occasion, we like to think of New Year's Eve as Amateur Night. Our advice is simple: If you're gong to drink, drink often.
New Year's Eve 2013 is on a Tuesday. Think long, long weekend. And for the Best Place to Spend New Year's Day, click here.
People get "pimped out" for New Year's Eve in New Orleans.
– PUBCLUB'S TOP 6 NYE PARTY PLACES –
• #1 – NEW ORLEANS. It's got the atmosphere, the proper attitude and the energy. New Orleans is a party just about anytime but New Year's is especially crazy. The Sugar Bowl teams, alumni and students are all in town which just adds to the fun. Going up and down Bourbon Street is the call but at midnight be at the ball drop in Jackson Square. The 2013 Sugar Bowl is Wed., Jan 2 (7:30 p.m.) and features Florida (which is a good party school) against Louisville (located in a city that has a heck of a part of its own, the Kentucky Derby. The bars better stock up on Kentucky bourbon).
Top Tip: Stick to the same color of drink. In the French Quarter, there are a rainbow selection of colored cocktails – blue, red, green, etc. – and the key to avoiding a terrible ending to the night is to pick a color and stay with it.
Weather: We've been in New Orleans on New Year's when it's been warm and when it's been freezing. Check the weather before you go and pack for accordingly.
Hot Links: PubClub's NYE Guide to New Orleans. PubClub's Bourbon Street Bar Guide to the Big Easy.
• #2 – PRAGUE. One of the world's most beautiful cities attracts people from throughout Europe because they know a great party when the see one. Prague is an awesome place to play anytime and on the Big Night it literally explodes. That's because the Czechs just love fireworks. Wander in and out of the many pubs and cafes but at midnight go to Old Town Square or Charles Bridge. Climb the hill to the Prague Castle or the "Stalin statue," where the fireworks are launched for an overview of the whole crazy scene. Prague is unbelievably inexpensive; your crowns go a long. long way. Czech it out!
Top Tip: Watch out for flying fireworks of every size and description.
Weather: The average temperature for January is -1.3C (30F), so it's cold. This makes quick jaunts into the many cafes a requirement.
Hot Links: PubClub's City Guide to Prague plus Prague's Nighlife and Bars.
• #3 – SYDNEY. Take your choice – party on the water, party on the bridge or party in a pub. The first major city to celebrate the coming of the New Year is also one of the best. How good is Sydney? The fireworks end at 12:15 but the celebrations last until dawn.
Top Tip: Wear black. That's the wardrobe color of choice for social Sydneysiders.
Weather: It's summer so pretty warm, but have a light jacket handy.
Hot Links: PubClub's NYE Guide to Sydney. PubClub's City & Bar Guide to Sydney.
The Vegas Strip fireworks show explodes over the towers of the casinos.
• #4 – LAS VEGAS. New Year's Eve and Las Vegas are as natural party partners as tequila and lime juice. People pour out from the casinos onto the streets and then after midnight head back to late night – or all-night – gambling, pubbing or clubbing.
It's called America's Party and there's two choices for where to spend the moment, the Strip and downtown at the Fremont Experience. Each has a fireworks show.
The Strip has the younger and single crowd while downtown is mostly – but certainly not exclusively – late 30s and beyond and couples. The Strip is also incredibly crowded in the main area (in front of Caesars and people gather as early as 8 p.m.). The fireworks run down the hotels from Mandalay Bay to the Stratosphere. It will start about 10 minutes before midnight and be timed to songs. There are beer and liquor stores along the Strip and of course, it's legal to drink in the street. But there is a large police presence and un-friendly behavior is quickly punished.
It's a little different downtown as the "fireworks" are electronic on an overhead canopy. Also called America's Party, this is a closed-off block party and tickets are $20 (free for Nevada residents). It's all pretty casual, just walk in and out of the casinos and shops while drinking cocktails out of football-shaped and sized containers. There are bands on two stages. A light and sound show runs overhead on the lighted "canopy" and confetti showers down at midnight. The gates open at 5:30 (no one under 18 allowed) and some restaurants offer packages for entrance and dinner.
Undecided between The Strip and Fremont? Let this be your guide: If you are in a group of friends and don't want to stray too far from them, do downtown. Traditionally, if you are single and on the prowl, seek The Strip.
Top Tip: Spend three days. Do a casino lounge crawl on the Strip the first night, NYE the second and cap it off by spending a leisurely New Year's Day watching the bowl games at the sports books.
Weather: Warm and pool-side sunny by day, chilly when the sun goes down. Since the party is outside, definitely have a jacket. In 2011, it even snowed. PubClub was there for it.
Hot Links: PubClub's look at NYE on the Strip and on Freemont Street. PubClub's Best Bars in Vegas.
• #5 – RIO, BRAZIL. Rio, it's not just for Carnival. House parties give way to massive celebrations on the beaches – 5 million people in all. At Copacabana Beach alone, 2 1/2 million gather on the sand and in the roads, which are closed to traffic. Copacabana is illuminated by thousands of candles as Christian and Afro-Brazilian religions mix and make promises for the new year. Keep in mind it's summer in Brazil which means beaches, beauties and steamy nights – and nightlife.
Top Tip: Book early; most hotels are sold out by September.
Weather: Winter temperatures run from 25 C (77 F) to 42 C (108 F). There's a reason the Brazilian thong was born here.
Hot Links: PubClub's Bar Guide to Rio.
Island fun is easy to find at Foxy's on New Year's Eve.
• #6 – JOST VAN DYKE, BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS. It's where PubClub.com spent a recent NYE. And we'll do it again! It would be higher on the list but you have to either have a boat or rely on the ferry system to do it right. This is a two-day (and night) party on the beach. Foxy's, one of the most famous bars in all the Caribbean, hosts an annual bash at the beach that brings in a couple thousand rum-running revelers. The Beach Boys have played in the past. With BVI drinks such as the Pain Killer or Bushwacker it's a true tropical paradise. Caribbean BBQ on the beach 30th and 31st, $30. Full dinner and open bar option on the beachfront level. Another option is Myett's, a very cool tropical bar with tropical band at Cane Garden Bay. Yes, Parrotheads, the Cane Garden Bay of Jimmy Buffett's "Manana" song.
Top Tip: Wear a mask to fit in with the crowd. Plus, it's okay to sleep on the beach and retreat to another island the next morning when the ferry arrives. Bonus tips: If at Foxy's, careful of food from vendors that may have been sitting out in the sun all day. Get ferry tickets early or charter a sailboat; these should be reserved several months in advance.
Weather: Warm, subtropical, and sometimes humid, with temperatures moderated by trade winds. Expect 70s or even 80s, possible humidity. In other words, wear shorts and sandals.
More Events Info: We will be publishing a full story on New Year's Eve at Foxy's but in the meantime, hit the links below for your prime party adventure.
Hot Links: PubClub' guide to the Bars of the British Virgin Islands. Foxy's "Old Year" Celebration Web Page. Like Caribbean music? This local artist plays all the islands: The Eric Stone Band
– OTHER FUN NEW YEAR's EVE LOCATIONS –
• Amsterdam. The place to hang is Nieuwmarkt (Newmarket) Square. Fireworks are everywhere; there's nothing official, mind you, just people setting off their own (often in several directions at once). The madness starts around 2300 and goes until roughly 0200. There's several cafes nearby. The Rembrantsplein, Leidseplein and Dam Square also have gatherings (and lots of cafes). Regardless of location, locals and tourists hit the streets with a bottle of champagne; at midnight there's a big cheer and people share drinks from their bottles. This being Amsterdam, there is also a Hooker's Ball in the Red Light District.
Top Tip: Go out with a bottle of champagne.
Weather: Cold. Rain is a possibility.
Hot Links: PubClub's Nightlife Guide to Amsterdam. Amsterdam's Red Light District.
• Honolulu. What could be more cool than fireworks over Waikiki Beach? There are dozens of professional shows here as well as in Palolo Valley, Pauoa Valley and Kalihi Valley. There are also lots of amateurs firing off fireworks with varying degrees of ability. This lasts from from about 11-2. The advantage of Waikiki, of course, is the ocean and the proximity to a number of bars in the area. Honolulu is the last major city to celebrate NYE, by the way. Aloha Towers has a block party with seven stages & 20 DJs ($15) or hang at Rumfire (Sheraton) on Waikiki Beach, inside the open-air bar and poolside; it has two DJs and Go-Go dancers ($40). Or be on the water with the a three-level party cruise ($55). Note to would-be revelers: State law requires a $25 permit to purchase any kind of fireworks (firecrackers included).
Top Tip: Don't get too carried away early in the day with the Mai Tais at the Royal Hawaiian – the strongest on the island. Do so and you might be seeing another kind of fireworks well before midnight.
Weather: What, are you kidding?
Hot Links: PubClub's Bar Guide to Honolulu.
No need to worry about a bar reservation in Key West, just go to Duval Street.
• Key West. Take your pick between a conch shell drop, a pirate "wench" drop from a 110-foot sailboat mast or a Red High Heel Drop featuring a drag queen. The conch shell drops at Sloppy Joe's bar, the wench at Schooner Wharf Bar and the high heel at Bourbon St. Pub/New Orleans House. Fireworks are at the end of White Street Pier over Key West Harbor. Admission and minimum charges apply to Sloppy Joe's and Bourbon Street Pub (upper Duval Street in the 700-800 block). Sloppy Joe's is at the end of Duval Street (201 Duval) and The Schooner Wharf is at 200 Seaport Harbor walk (202 William Street). Key West is mainly a fun couples and friends kind of place but for singles, the odds of mixing it up go up for certain events like New Year's, Spring Break (especially) and Halloween.
Top Tip: Fly into Miami, rent a convertible and leisurely cruise down the Keys, timing your arrival to sunset at Mallory Square.
Weather: Expect 60s, 70s, or even 80s. (F) low humidity – a rarity for these parts.
More Events Info: 305-296-2388, ext. 21, regarding conch-shell drop; 305-293-9800 for the high-heel drop; 305-292-3302regarding "wench" drop.
Hot Links: PubClub's Full NYE Party Guide to Key West. PubClub's Bar Guide to Key West. PubClub's Florida Keys Travel Guide.
• London. There is no official event but officials estimate that about 400,000 people will be SOMEWHERE in central London because there are free Underground rides until 0430 in the morning (tubes; trains will run to 0500. Free service begins at midnight). There are fireworks over the Thames and a tremendous photo opportunity is to frame the show with Big Ben in the foreground. Trafalgar Square is one hot destination. Another destination is the London Eye which in the past has has put on laser shows. Officials estimate 700,000 people are on the streets of London on New Year's Eve. And remember, this is NYE leading into the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.
Top Tip: Dress for the weather.
Weather: Cold, rain very possible.
Hot Links: PubClub's Pubs Guide to London.
• Miami/South Beach. Much like its varied culture, variety is the spice of Miami life for New Year's Eve. We'll start with the ever-popular South Beach. Models, artists, and "regular" revelers make up the thousands waking the streets, crowding the bars and attending swanky affairs. College students and alumni from the Orange Bowl teams are around the area, though this year's game is a potential dog with Northern Illinois of the mid-major MAC facing Florida State. Still, some of those small schools can really party and if the Seminole fans care enough to go, then they will be fun. The game is not until Jan. 1, at 8:30 p.m. On the 31st, the fireworks show over the ocean is a prized attraction. South Beach doesn't come cheap – even "inexpensive" rooms away from Ocean Ave., go for $150 or so a night. Ask for water and it's the bottled variety, usually at $3.50 a clip. There will be some wild parties. Just be prepared to pay. The lobby of the Delano hotel is always crowded, mainly with non-guests. For the several famous high-end hotel pool scenes, one has to be a guest.
There is, of course, much more to Miami than South Beach. Bayfront Park is having a free fireworks show over the bay with bands and entertainment. Gates open at 7 with the show starting at 8 (Bayfront Park Amphitheater 301 N. Biscayne Blvd.; 305/358-7550). In the same area, the Big Orange Festival drops a 35-foot orange ball orange from the adjacent The Hotel Inter-Continental at Chopin Plaza. The ball starts to rise at 6 p.m., to a laser show and fireworks. It's all free and there are plenty of watering holes in the indoor/outdoor Bayshore mall. DJs start cranking at 5 to set the party atmosphere and the "Big Orange" starts its decent at 9 p.m. (Hotel InterContinental Miami, 100 Chopin Plaza, 305/539-3000.
There is also a "Downtown Countdown" in Ft. Lauderdale in association with the Orange Bowl. It's intended to be family oriented, so adult partiers are advised to go to SW 2nd Street for live music and a ball drop.
The Orange Bowl is always a pretty big deal and it takes place at Sun Life Stadium, which is much closer to Ft. Lauderdale than it is to South Beach. There is a Budweiser tailgate party at in the afternoon (Gate G, 1:30-7:30 p.m). There is no parade; this was a Miami tradition for years.Finally, there are other choices away from most tourists. Coconut Grove is a locals' hangout near the University of Miami and party cruise ships offer one- and two-night excursions to Bermuda.
Top Tip: In South Beach, make the maximum ATM withdrawal and don't check the credit card receipts until you return home.
Weather: Bring suntan lotion. Solid 70s, likely sunny, slight humidity.
Hot Link: Orange Bowl Web site.
• Paris. Crowds pack around the Eiffel Tower and the Champs Elysses. The Metro is free (up until 12:05 anyway) and be warned they are PACKED. People bring and shoot off fireworks; it's crazy. But fun and harmless.
Top Tip: Avoid the Metro after, say 1800.
Hot Links: PubClub's Bar Guide to Paris.
• Whistler, B.C. It's a party in the snow. Good beer, great people. Actually, great beer and great people. This awesome ski resort in the Canadian Rockies that hosted most events for the 2010 Winter Olumpics yes, you can ski the very run where Lindsey Vonn won her downhill gold – is good enough anytime and on New Year's it reaches the summit. The Village is buzzing (if you catch our snow drift). Police do check backpacks and purses for alcohol so get your drinks at the bars. The big drag is that most bars charge $50-150, so arrive a couple of days early and find your NYE party spot.Another great time to go to Whistler is a few weeks later for Australia Day, always on Jan. 26.
Top Tip: Arrive two days early to scout out your NYE location.
Weather: 20s on the hill, 30s in town (F) unless a sudden unexpected chill hits. This year, Whistler got an early snowfall and the going is great on the slopes.
Hot Links: PubClub's New Year's Eve Guide to Whistler. PubClub's Resort Guide to Whistler. The bars of Whister nightlife guide.
– WHERE NOT TO SPEND NEW YEAR'S EVE –
Give LA this; it does have the Rose Bowl.
• New York City. We'll give it this – it's the most famous and recognized celebration in the world. But our comments come directly from locals, people who have grown up in and around the Big Apple. One flat out told us, in typical New York style: "I would NEVER recommend New York for New Year's. Times Square is way too crowded, it's always the coldest day of the year so it's @&*$-ing Freezing!, and there's no place to pee." Then there's this: Several bars offer "free drinks" as part of a NYE package (for a healthy $100-200 charge) but it often takes 15-20 minutes to get that drink and the "specials" may expire before midnight. Still, hundreds of thousands will be celebrating in Times Square (One Times Square at 42nd Street). But then again, it IS New York and Time's Square, so if you go, take a party attitude!
Top Tip: Dress warmly and don't be put off by huge crowds everywhere.
Weather: Er, see above.
Hot Links: Times Square New Year's Eve.
• Los Angeles. We like LA. Luv it, in fact. But other than the Rose Bowl, there's not a lot going on here. The city – actually the 85 mini-cities which really make up "L.A." – are too spread out to hold one big, central celebration. Some cities do have events but they are mainly too family-oriented to recommend (remember, we're here to party!). House parties, restaurants and bars (minimum charge $50) have events, so promoter parties are where it's happening. For those wanting to see the Rose Bowl Parade, there's two ways to do it. One is to get up really early and be there no later than 6 a.m. (and who wants to do that after NYE!?) and the other is to camp out a couple of days in advance to get a prime spot along the parade route. The parade is at 8 a.m. (Pacific Time), with the game between Stanford and Wisconsin at 2 p.m.
Top Tip: Hit the beach cities. Manhattan/Hermosa and Huntington/Newport are the best party spots. Manhattan Beach is always happening and neighboring Hermosa Beach has a gathering at the Pier with bands (not fireworks, though) that will attract several hundred people. There are a half-dozen bars on and around the Pier, but many are small are are sure to have lines by 10 p.m.
Weather: Cool at night, perhaps even some drops of rain leading to NYE. But once New Year's Day and the Rose Bowl rolls around, it will be sunny and in the low '70s. As locals know, that means another 50,000 freezing Midwesterners will see this and move to Southern California.
Hot Links: PubClub's Best Bars and Best of L.A. Nightlife guide to Hermosa Beach.
– COMMENTS FROM THE BAR STOOL –
• I am disappointed that you didn't include Edinburgh, Scotland on your
top New Year's eve destinations. I've been to quite a few of the places
you mentioned (this year Key West), but the Hogmanay celebration that
they have in Scotland is the best. Over a quarter of a million people
on Princess street, fireworks from atop the castle overlooking the
city... lots of booze and tons of attractive women.
• Was just reading something on your site about 'best places to spend new year' and I really think a good suggestion is Verbier, Switzerland.
Hope you consider it ;) Thanks!
• The Haad Rin Beach on Koh Phangan Island in Thailand features the greatest parties ever... Even on New Year's Eve...