Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

10 NYE parties you may not have considered

By Natasha Dragun, for CNN Travel
updated 9:34 AM EST, Fri December 27, 2013
Among the first places in Australia to see the sunrise, Byron Bay hosts one of the country's largest New Year's Eve parties. This year's Falls Music & Arts Festival (December 31 to January 3) features MGMT, Grizzly Bear, The Roots and Vampire Weekend. Among the first places in Australia to see the sunrise, Byron Bay hosts one of the country's largest New Year's Eve parties. This year's Falls Music & Arts Festival (December 31 to January 3) features MGMT, Grizzly Bear, The Roots and Vampire Weekend.
Byron Bay, Australia
Goa, India
Prague, Czech Republic
Harbin, China
Niagara Falls, Canada
Reykjavik, Iceland
Cruise ships, various
Whistler, British Columbia
Walt Disney World, Florida
Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Australia's Byron Bay hosts one of the country's largest parties on New Year's Eve
  • January 1 marks the day Czech Republic was created after the 1993 breakup of Czechoslovakia
  • Paper lanterns filled with wishes are released into the sky in Chiang Mai

(CNN) -- Seen the ball drop in New York's Times Square?

Caught the fireworks over Sydney Harbour?

There are plenty of other ways to ring in the New Year.

Byron Bay, Australia

Among the first places in Australia to see the sun rise, Byron Bay in New South Wales hosts one of the country's largest parties on New Year's Eve.

This year, for the first time, the three-day Falls Music & Arts Festival will take over the town from December 31 to January 3, which means tunes from MGMT, Grizzly Bear, The Roots and Vampire Weekend.

Away from the North Byron Parklands, festivities will feature family friendly activities from 9 p.m., plus an early morning event on Main Beach on the first day of the New Year.

If you don't have a ticket to Falls, aren't a local or don't have a hotel booked, you won't get in. The mayor is planning to "lock" everyone else out in order to "curb alcohol-fueled violence and destruction of property in the town."

Good times apparently await those who have prepared in advance.

The Falls Music & Arts Festival

Goa, India

Balmy weather, beaches, al fresco bars and restaurants -- India's smallest state is one of its biggest party centers.

Goan celebrations kick off on December 27 with the three-day Sunburn music festival -- headliners include Pete Tong, Markus Schultz and Afrojak, among other DJs.

Parties on New Year's Eve range from masquerade balls to beach raves.

If you don't mind crowds, Anjuna Beach has dance performances, Goan folk music and plenty of feni (a local liquor), while the sunset party at Querim Beach's nightclub Kitty Su takes things outdoors with some of the country's top music acts on the sand.

At the Hill Top event, near Vagator Beach, a globetrotting roster of trance musicians will entertain revelers well into New Year's Day.

Sunburn Goa

Hill Top Festival Goa

Prague, Czech Republic

In Prague, not all vantage points are created equal.
In Prague, not all vantage points are created equal.

Prague locals love their fireworks, so much so that many contribute their own to the New Year's Eve festivities around town.

The official show explodes over the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square at midnight; the best vantage points are from the Charles Bridge, Petřín Hill and near Prague Castle.

Vltava River cruises are free from crowds and provide Czech beer and live jazz.

January 1 is particularly poignant to Prague locals as it marks the day the Czech Republic was created after the breakup of Czechoslovakia in 1993.

A special fireworks display will be held at Letná Park on the day, kicking off at 6 p.m. to ensure that families with young children can attend.

Harbin, China

New Year's Eve festivities don't get much cooler than those held in the northern Chinese city of Harbin.

Not far from the Russian border, the city gets temperatures well below freezing in winter, perfect for the annual Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival.

Celebrating 30 years, the festival sees larger-than-life ice sculptures crafted around town, lit either by lasers or with traditional lanterns.

Visitors can walk on icy replicas of the Great Wall, check out St. Basil's Cathedral or stare at a replica Eiffel Tower before fireworks light up the night sky.

Another icy tradition takes place when swimmers jump into the city's Songhua River.

Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival

Niagara Falls, Canada

Billed as Canada's largest free New Year's Eve extravaganza, the December 31 concert at Queen Victoria Park in Niagara Falls is expected to draw more than 40,000 people.

Kicking off at 7.30 p.m. and held against the epic backdrop of Niagara Falls, which straddles the American and Canadian border, this year's event features music from the Sam Roberts Band and Serena Ryder, with Demi Lovato headlining.

The party includes food stalls, entertainers and two fireworks displays, at 8.45 p.m. and midnight.

You can continue the noise on the first day of 2014 with a Journey Behind the Falls tour, allowing you to stand in the mist where the mighty Horseshoe Falls tumbles from a height of 13 stories, traveling at 65 kilometers per hour.

Niagara Falls Festival

Reykjavik, Iceland

The area around Reykjavik\'s Hallgrimskirkja church will have bonfires and fireworks.
The area around Reykjavik's Hallgrimskirkja church will have bonfires and fireworks.

December 31 sees crowds converge on 10 bonfires lit around Iceland's capital before revelers make their way to Hallgrimskirkja church, a dramatic 73-meter-high building designed to resemble the country's lava flows.

Perlan (The Pearl), a hemispherical building atop Öskjuhlíð hill with a winter garden and dining areas, provides a more panoramic view of town.

Fireworks are sold throughout the city, which means that explosions can be heard from the moment the sky darkens.

The intensity builds toward midnight, when a spectacular choreographed display lights the city.

The festival of lights can often continue on New Year's Day when tourists head off in search of the aurora borealis.

MORE: 11 of Reykjavik's coolest bars

Cruise ship, Various

If you can't decide on one destination, a cruise offers a roster of ports.

All cruise lines ring in the New Year with pomp and ceremony, but a few go the extra mile.

Crystal Cruises hosts a balloon drop in the atrium of its two ships, followed by a ship-wide countdown at midnight, with champagne. On New Year's Day, celebrations continue with a boozy brunch.

On December 31, Crystal Symphony will be docked in Sydney Harbour, under the bridge, so you're guaranteed a dazzling introduction to 2014.

Norwegian Cruise Line ships will have fireworks and a captain's countdown from the bridge. "The Pride of America" is scheduled to arrive next to Hawaii's volcanoes on the first day of 2014.

Weather permitting, the Oceania Cruises' fleet will hold New Year's Eve soirees on their decks, as well as parties throughout the ships. Passengers can look forward to live music, noisemakers, party hats and plenty of bubbles.

Crystal Cruises

Norwegian Cruise Line

Oceania Cruises

Whistler, British Columbia

The Canadian winter sports resort town is hosting a Youth Dance and NYE kids' countdown in Millennium Place, with fire spinners, dancers, circus entertainers, live music and a giant bubble wrap stomp and balloon drop at 9 p.m.

At the Fire and Ice Show, Whistler's best skiers and riders jump through blazing rings of fire as guests dance into the New Year.

A dazzling display of lights and sounds will ring in the new year.

Fireworks are best viewed from Skier's Plaza located at the base of Whistler Mountain, or from the skating rink at Whistler Olympic Plaza.

Whistler New Year's Eve

Walt Disney World, Florida

Plenty of distractions keep you busy till midnight at Walt Disney World.
Plenty of distractions keep you busy till midnight at Walt Disney World.

Most evenings at Walt Disney World near Orlando go off with a bang, but the entertainment on New Year's Eve is particularly spectacular.

The attraction -- home to four theme parks, two water parks and 24 themed resorts -- fills up fast, so it's wise to arrive early.

Most of the theme parks welcome visitors an hour earlier than normal and stay open until 1 or 2 a.m. on New Year's Day.

The Magic Kingdom offerings include the Electrical Parade at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., the Holiday Wishes fireworks at 8:30 p.m. and Fantasy in the Sky fireworks at 11:50 p.m.

Epcot will have shows at 6:30 p.m. and 11:40 p.m., plus DJs throughout the evening at the Future World Fountain Stage. Hollywood Studios will showcase fireworks and special effects at midnight with the theme "Mulch, Sweat and Shears" -- a series of four concerts.

Walt Disney World

Chiang Mai, Thailand

The northern Thai city of Chiang Mai officially celebrates Loi Krathong (the Festival of Lights) in the 12th lunar month (this year, November), but the dazzling extravaganza is repeated in part on New Year's Eve.

Locals and visitors gather on Thapae Road (closed to traffic from dusk) around the Thapae Gate, where food stalls line the street and musicians and dancers entertain.

Even before the sun disappears, paper lanterns are released into the sky.

Things are more subdued, but equally illuminating, at the city's Buddhist temples.

Candle-lit shrines at Wat Phan Tao, among others, set the scene for more paper lanterns floating into the night sky, with fireworks at midnight.

At Ping River, visitors can also watch floating lanterns being released onto the waterway.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:01 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Photographer gives Hong Kong skyscrapers a radical new look.
updated 8:21 AM EDT, Sat August 16, 2014
A cage-free shark photographer gets up close and personal with the ocean's most feared predators.
updated 10:28 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Conde Nast Traveler reader survey praises antipodean cities but gives South Africa's biggest city a wide berth.
updated 9:22 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
After the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Canal, here are 10 other ways to fall in love with the country.
updated 11:49 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
In Taiwan, tourists pay to ride along in local cabs, letting fate -- and locals fares -- decide where they'll go.
updated 4:48 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
It's largely devoid of human life, dark, cold and subject to dangerous levels of geological volatility -- the Arctic is surely the worst possible destination for an arts festival.
Zurich, Switzerland
It may be Switzerland's banking capital, but Zurich's real wealth lies in the village-like charm of its cobbled streets and Alpine scenery.
updated 2:54 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
We've all wondered what it's like to die. Now an outfit in Shanghai says it can provide the experience.
updated 9:15 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Our special report details who, what and how much it takes to bring you the best in IFE (we'll explain).
updated 2:32 AM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
What pizza is to New York and the cheesesteak is to Philly, the food truck has become to Los Angeles -- essential
updated 5:03 AM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
If you've ever clicked on a list of forests to see before you die, chances are you've already seen a photo of this stunner.
updated 8:18 PM EDT, Thu August 7, 2014
The military coup in Thailand has led to a massive change in Phuket, weeding out decades of misuse and abuse at one of the world's most popular holiday destinations.
updated 5:56 AM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
With a mix of Indian, African, French and Chinese influences, Mauritius represents a cultural smorgasbord.
updated 8:44 AM EDT, Fri August 8, 2014
There's nothing like high drama on a beach.
updated 5:57 AM EDT, Mon August 11, 2014
Home to big game, sparkling beaches, and stunning sunsets, Malawi makes for an idyllic travel destination.