Millions flock to well-known destinations like Times Square in New York, but if you’re after a New Year break to truly remember, you might want to consider one of the following unusual options.
1. Sao Paulo, Brazil
Sao Paolo is the place to be for those who want to party like a Brazilian. This is one of the biggest celebrations outside carnival time in a city that loves a good fiesta. You’ll find fireworks and massive street parties to dance your way around. However, one of the most peculiar local traditions is to wear specially designed, brightly coloured underpants to bring about good luck (red and yellow pants bring love and money) in the year to come. You’ll find these for sale on market stalls leading up to the big event.
2. Copenhagen, Denmark
Normally the Danes are thought of as a fairly sensible lot, but this all goes out the window on New Year’s Eve. Crockery smashing and jumping off chairs are just two of the traditions that you can take part in if you plan a New Year trip to Copenhagen. The locals stand on chairs and jump off of them at the stroke of midnight in unison, literally jumping forward into the New Year. This is supposed to banish evil spirits, who are left behind in the old year. Smashing up old plates, teacups, and other assorted tableware items is also a part of the festivities, meant to bring about good luck. As you wind your way through the city streets, you’ll have to dodge the broken crockery on the way to the party at Amalienborg Square.
3. New York, USA
Start the New Year off with a splash rather than a bang. The tradition of going for an ice-cold swim is upheld in places such as Edinburgh (well, South Queensferry to be precise), which has the ‘Loony Dook’ in the Firth of Forth, and New York, where the members of Brooklyn’s Polar Bear Club dive into the chilly Atlantic waters off Coney Island for an invigorating sense of renewal. Although club members swim in the ocean every Sunday throughout the winter, everyone is welcome to join them on the boardwalk each New Year’s Day to take this cold-as-heck challenge.
The Japanese do quirky better than just about anyone and the New Year is a fine time to shine. Throughout the evening a good percentage of the population watches a famous television musical battle featuring guest stars engaging in sing-offs. The winners are voted on by the audience at home, with past contenders including Paul Simon and Cyndi Lauper. At midnight, it’s traditional to slurp up extra-long soba noodles meant to symbolize longevity, as temple bells ring exactly 108 times in the distance.
If your favourite way to celebrate is with a good meal, as a lot of people’s is, try it in Tallinn. On New Year’s Eve, fireworks shoot through the quaint cobblestoned streets, and there’s no shortage of parties and discos. However, in Estonia you celebrate the occasion not by dancing but by eating. It’s traditional to eat seven times on NYE. Yes, SEVEN. Each meal gives you added strength for the New Year – that’s the theory. Enjoy traditional treats seven times over including sausages, sauerkraut, potato salads, and marzipan, washed down with plenty of bubbly of course.
6. Plymouth, Wisconsin, USA
The small Midwestern town of Plymouth, Wisconsin may be out of the way even for most Americans, but true cheese lovers will find the journey well worth it. Every New Year’s Eve they hold the Big Cheese Drop to help celebrate the dairy industry. A local artist creates an 80-pound chunk of Styrofoam cheese which is dropped from a height of 30 metres at the stroke of midnight. Naturally, you’ll find plenty of cheese-related refreshments, music, and games to fuel the lively atmosphere!
Bring in the New Year with a mini-break to one of these six city destinations – all with flights for less than £100.