Discover where 2018 will start first (and last) and the parties that celebrate the New Year around the world
It’s already New Year in Oceania! The countries in the South Pacific kick off the New Year’s Eve celebrations. Officially, Kiribati is the first in the world to ring in the New Year, but in Australia the parties are more expressive: at least 1.5 million people are expected every year to see the fireworks display over the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The Japanese New Year, or shogatsu, represents a moment of relaxation and reflection. In the Eastern tradition, it’s common to celebrate among family and set aside some time for the hatsumode, which is the first visit of the year to Shinto shrines. As part of the celebrations, Buddhist temples ring their bells 108 times, replacing fireworks displays.
Red Square is the main venue for the celebrations, which include a fireworks display over St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin. A fun fact: on this night, the spirit of Ded Moroz, a kind of Russian Santa Claus, inspires people to exchange gifts.
The complex of V&A Waterfront is the main setting for ringing in the New Year in South Africa. There are outdoor events with dance and music performances. Anyone who wants to escape the hustle and bustle and see the fireworks display away from the city center can head to Table Mountain or Milnerton Beach, two natural attractions in the region.
Before going to the party at Puerta del Sol, Madrileños have a plentiful dinner with family and friends. As soon as the clock strikes midnight, you have to eat 12 grapes, one for each month of the year, symbolizing luck and prosperity.
The Greenwich Meridian, an imaginary line that divides the world in half and helps to establish time zones, is located on the outskirts of London. Technically, the planet’s “midnight” is there. By the banks of the Thames, a fireworks display has been held since 2014 – 100,000 tickets go on sale several weeks before the party.
Copacabana Beach welcomed 2 million people for last year’s New Year’s Eve event, in a great party with stages and big screens set up on the sand. In Brazil, people traditionally wear white and tourists and locals jump seven waves at the beach, a Brazilian custom inherited from African religions.
From Valparaíso to Concón, the coast is invaded by tourists because of the impressive pyrotechnic display. Last year, 35,500 shells exploded into the sky during a 23-minute show.
The star of the night on New Year’s Eve in New York is the Times Square Ball, a huge illuminated crystal ball that has been dropped from One Times Square at the last minute of the year since 1907.
One of the last places to welcome the New Year is Tahiti, where the parties and dance performances are held at the beach in Papeete. During the first weeks of the new year, Tahitians prepare the Tere Fa'ati, a guided tour of the city that stops by its main tourist attractions, like the Vaipahi Gardens, the waterfalls in Tiarei, and the islands in Punaauia. Not far from there, the uninhabited American islands of Baker and Howland ring in the New Year shortly after.