The world’s biggest combined party is New Year’s Eve.
It starts in Australia – Sydney is a good place to enjoy it – 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 2023 (actually it’s 2021 but some incorrectly refer to it as the incoming year) is on a Saturday. It is traditionally the biggest party event of the year, the time when the whole world celebrates, either in private house parties, at bars or clubs or massive citywide celebration that attract tens and even hundreds of thousands of people.
The party pros of PubClub.com focus on the latter, the huge free-to-the-public events featuring block parties, fireworks celebrations and people dancing and drinking in the streets.
PUBCLUB.COM’S TOP 10 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 2022 Sugar Bowl is Jan. 2, at 7:45 p.m. It features Baylor and Ole Miss – can you say Hottie Toddy!
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.
Links: New Orleans New Year’s Eve Party Guide Review.
• Sugar Bowl Party Guide Review
• #2 – 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 for NYE? The fireworks end at 12:15 but the celebrations last until dawn.
Top Tip: Get to the Opera Bar early, like before sunset. This awesome bar is right below the Opera House and is a prime mingling place. If that’s too crowded, anyplace in the Rocks (which is behind Sydney Harbor’s Circular Quay) will get you views of the fireworks and lots of people at play. You can also try your luck at actually standing on the Harbor Bridge; there’s a free pedestrian walkway.
Weather: It’s summer so pretty warm, but have a light jacket handy.
• #3 – BERLIN. A massive block party at the Brandenburg Gate with bands, DJs, entertainment (and cocktails, and in Germany you can bring your own and consume alcohol in the streets). Nearly a million people fill up an area between Brandenburg Gate and Victory Column in one of the biggest NYE parties in Europe.
After the fireworks, people hang around because, well, there’s no official closing time of the event. You stay as long as you want to stay, and that’s worth celebrating.
Top Tip: Go early, as early at 8 p.m.
Weather: Chilly so dress accordingly.
• #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. One year (2011), it even snowed. PubClub was there for it.
Links: The Strip Vs. Fremont Street
• #5 – NEW YORK CITY. If nothing else, this is a one-time “okay I did it” New Year’s Eve experience. It’s cold, it’s crowded, you’ve got to get there about four hours before midnight and it’s also tough to get a drink within the Times Square area. But it’s also a point of pride to say you’ve been at the world’s most famous NYE celebration. For at least one time, it’s one heck of a place to end one year and begin another. Link: NYE on NYE Party Tips, Arrival Times & Complete Guide
Top Tip: These days, there’s a lot – lots – of security, so plan for it by what you take as well as mentally. It’s all done to protect you so roll with it.
Weather: Usually in the low 30s. Dress warmly.
• #6 – 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.
• #7 – KEY WEST, FL. 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.
• #8 – 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.
Link: Foxy’s Bar NYE Party
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.
• #9 – 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. So better make it going out with two bottles of champagne!
• #10 – 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.