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10 waterfront destinations to ring in 2012

By Emily Smith, CNN
updated 12:54 PM EST, Fri December 30, 2011
Party with the Brazilians on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro. Party with the Brazilians on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro.
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Copacabana Beach
The Bosporus
Sydney Harbor
Koh Phangan
River Seine
Niagara Falls
River Thames
Victoria Harbor
Kiribati, The Pacific
Victoria and Alfred Waterfront
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Waterfronts across the world are the focal point for many NYE celebrations
  • Revelers will need to brave the cold to watch fireworks on the River Seine and Thames
  • Party goers who prefer the warmer weather can head to the beaches in Brazil and Thailand

(CNN) -- In the lead up to every New Year's Eve the inevitable question of how to celebrate arises. For most, waterfronts become the focal point of the celebrations.

It's hard not to see why with the amazing firework displays looking even more dazzling reflected in the water.

So jump in a boat or head to the foreshore for our the top 10 places to countdown to 2012.

River Seine, Paris

See Paris, the 'City of Light', be lit with fireworks while cruising down the River Seine on the last day of the year. The Eiffel Tower is the centerpiece for the festivities and from some parts of the river you can get a magnificent uninterrupted view of the famous structure.

Sydney Harbor

Sydney prides itself on holding what it claims to be the most spectacular New Year's Eve celebrations in the world. Thousands of boats anchor in the harbor and millions of people hit the foreshore to witness the firework display with the 'Sydney Opera House' and Harbor Bridge used as the backdrop.

The shores of Kiribati, Pacific Ocean

Leave your worries and the rest of the world behind in 2011 in this tiny Pacific nation. Kiribati is the first place in the world to ring in 2012. Kiribati prides itself on being the first nation to celebrate the New Year, even changing the name of one of its islands before 2000 to Millennium Island to mark the fact it would be the first country to enter the third millennium.

Niagara Falls, Ontario

This is no ordinary waterfront, but with the spectacular backdrop of the Niagara Falls, it's hard to go past Queen Victoria Park in Ontario. The freezing weather does not deter the tens of thousands of people who hit the park to count down to the New Year. Revelers can listen to live music while watching an amazing fireworks display over the world famous waterfall.

Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janerio

Brazilians are renowned for their outstanding parties and New Year's Eve is no different. It is one of the greatest celebrations in the South American nation, second only to the Carnival. Millions hit the sands of the famous Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro to watch the firework display over the Atlantic Ocean.

The Bosporus, Istanbul

Celebrate 2012 across two continents on the Bosporus in Istanbul -- the strait that divides Europe and Asia. A fireworks display lights up the Bosporus Bridge while beautiful mosques and other ancient Turkish are illuminated, giving those on the water a stunning view.

Koh Phangan Beach, Thailand

If you want to escape the cold on New Year's Eve then there is no better place to do it than on the beach in Thailand. Koh Phangan is home to Thailand's famous moon parties and on New Year's Eve the celebrations continue. The beach is packed mostly with tourists keen to party well into New Year's Day.

Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong

The vast harbor is lit up when the clock strikes 12 in Hong Kong. Fireworks are set off from the buildings which line the foreshore, using the high-rises as a part of the lighting show and giving the audience a dazzling display.

River Thames, London

If you're willing to brave the chilly winds, a cruise on the River Thames will provide spectacular views. Watch the fireworks with London's iconic new and old buildings in the background such as Big Ben, Westminster and the London Eye.

Victoria and Albert Waterfront, Cape Town

The fantastic sound of African drums beat out at this New Year's celebration in Cape Town. Revelers enjoy a warm summer's evening on the water here, with firework displays and street performers for those onshore.

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