Posted Wednesday, Dec. 05, 2012
All the world's a party on New Year's Eve, but only some soirees warrant a trip. Whether your celebratory style is a formal Viennese ball or an informal Aussie chow-down, we've rounded up the top spots to be when the clock strikes midnight Dec. 31.
The affair: In the Austrian capital, Le Grand Bal kicks off the ball season that spans 450 balls and 5,500 dancers. Held at the Hofburg Palace, the New Year's Eve ball, like most, is a formal affair marked not just by gowns and tuxedos but a traditional program that begins with a post-dinner procession of debutantes and ball organizers. Dances begin with those who have been schooled for the affair and continue with soloists from the Vienna State Ballet before mere mortals join in. At midnight, when the St. Stephen's Cathedral bell rings in the new year, the orchestra strikes up Johann Strauss' Blue Danube, though the dancing continues into the wee hours.
How to do it: Tickets to the ball range from 590 euros for the entire evening, including dinner, to 145 euros for admission to the dance only. A number of hotel packages include a night at the classic Hotel Sacher for 378 euros (www.legrandbal.at/english).
New York City
The affair: The nation's biggest New Year's Eve celebration takes place in Manhattan's Times Square, where an illuminated 12-foot-diameter ball drops 70 feet in the last minute of the old year. What began in 1904 at rooftop parties expanded to the ball drop three years later and has been growing ever since; roughly 1 million people jam into Times Square each year. There's a schedule of concerts throughout the evening (still to be determined at press time, but Justin Bieber performed last year), and festivities culminate in confetti and fireworks at midnight.
How to do it: The event draws revelers who line up as early as 3 p.m. in an area with no concessions or bathrooms. But those in the know buy tickets to the party at R Lounge, overlooking the square in the Renaissance New York Times Square Hotel. Packages of four tickets start at $7,500 and include meals catered by the popular sushi purveyor Blue Ribbon. Rooms at the hotel cost $649 (www.rloungetimessquare.com/newyearseve).
Rio de Janeiro
The affair: In Rio they call it Réveillon, and it draws an estimated 2 million New Year's celebrants to landmark Copacabana Beach. The ultimate beach party, Réveillon features a lineup of Brazilian and international acts that keeps the crowd dancing. At midnight, a massive fireworks display marks the new year. While the event is free to the public, numerous hotels in the area, including the Sofitel, JW Marriott Hotel Rio de Janeiro and Hotel Fasano, sponsor their own, more glamorous parties.
How to do it: Directly on Copacabana Beach, the newly refurbished Copacabana Palace offers an overview of the beach party while keeping its own celebration upscale. The evening includes a buffet dinner, live band and, of course, fireworks for about $1,115 per person. Rooms start at $728 (www.copacabanapalace.com).
The affair: The Scottish have a name for the last day of the year, hogmanay. As a proper noun, Hogmanay has come to mean a week's worth of carnival-style revels. The centerpiece of the event is the Torchlight Parade that takes place Dec. 30 and draws 25,000 torch holders in procession from the historic Royal Mile to Calton Hill, culminating in a fireworks finale, an event inspired by an ancient Highlander victory over the Vikings. On New Year's Eve, some 80,000 revelers gather before Edinburgh Castle for a street party, and surrounding events include a triathlon, carnival rides, traditional Scottish dances and a New Year's Day swim in the River Forth called the Loony Dook.
How to do it: The Hotel Balmoral will hold its own party on New Year's Eve with a traditional pipe and drum concert and multi-course meal at a cost of 235 pounds per person, or with rooms from 605 pounds per person (www.thebalmoralhotel.com). Or let luxury outfitter Cox & Kings organize your five-day stay at Hogmanay from $1,695 per person, double occupancy (coxand
The affair: Two distinct features propel Australia to the front of the New Year's pack: one, it's summer Down Under; and two, the Taste Festival in the capital of Tasmania. The island has a highly regarded food scene, and the annual seven-day event, Dec. 28-Jan. 3, highlights local oysters, cheese, beer, wine and the paddock-to-plate journey of its livestock. Visitors can sign up for food tours around the island, or stick around to taste, shop, learn and, of course, dine. Bands and dual fireworks displays -- the first at a family-friendly 9:30 p.m. -- mark the new year.
How to do it: Dec. 31 tickets to the Taste Festival cost $50-$150 AUD, depending on seating (www.tastefestival.com.au). See the fireworks from your waterfront room at the Henry Jones Art Hotel (from $340 AUD, www.thehenryjones.com).
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