It’s that time of year again, almost time to ring in the New Year. These are some of the best spots to welcome 2012, whether it’s with fireworks on a frosty night in London, or a lazy day on Bondi Beach on the other side of the world.
Few sounds are more symbolic than the bridge between the old and new year than Big Ben. New Year’s Eve is the night London Mayor Boris Johnson picks up the public transport tab so everyone can get home after midnight for free. You’ll want to head to Southbank, one of the best places to be just before the clock strikes twelve, and the general rule of thumb is that if you can see the London Eye you can see the fireworks.
There’s nowhere friendlier than an Irish pub to celebrate New Year’s Eve, and after a few drinks at the Temple Bar in Dublin, everyone heads up to Christ Church Cathedral to ring in the New Year in this historic city spot.
Ring in 2012 in style with the crowds as they gather along the Champs-Elysees for good views of the Eiffel Tower. Or head to Montmartre, another great spot from which to watch the action. We can almost guarantee some couples will be popping the question as Paris is dangerously romantic and a wonderful place to be on New Year’s Eve.
The Dutch call December 31st "Oudjaarsavond" (Old Year’s Eve) and they know how to throw a party. Dam Square, Rembrandtplein, and Nieuwmarkt are all popular gathering places in the pretty city centre or you could always escape the crowds and head for the bridges on Amsterdam’s main canals which are great vantage spots for firework watching.
Why is Madeira on our list? Because it made the Guinness Book of Records for Funchal’s largest firework display in the world some years ago. Fireworks are set off from about 50 posts, lighting up the skies over the capital for a good ten minutes – very possibly the “best value” firework display in the world?
The German name for New Year’s Eve is Sylvester (it’s the feast of Pope St. Sylvester) and if you’re in Berlin, chances are you’ll be celebrating at Brandenburg Gate. Berlin puts on mMusic, dancing, stage shows, and world-class, spectacular fireworks giving Times Square in New York a run for its money.
We’ve all seen the countdown on the news and there’s nothing quite like the atmosphere in nippy Times Square. One million people fill the square from early afternoon waiting for the giant glitter Ball to descend, with the best vantage points along Broadway (43rd Street to 50th Street), Seventh Avenue and north to 59th Street.
The Scottish capital, with its historic, illuminated castle and Christmas lights, rarely looks prettier than on the last night of the year when the Scots come out in force to celebrate Hogmanay. If you’re staying with friends you’ll know all about first-footing, which starts just after midnight. The first person to cross a friend or neighbour’s doorstep takes a gift such as a piece of coal, shortbread, whisky, black bun or a slice of rich fruit cake, which symbolises good luck for the occupants of the house for the coming year. Red-headed first-footers, however, are not considered lucky – ideally you’ll want a dark-haired, handsome Scotsman!
Last but not least, if you want to escape the UK winter and celebrate New Year’s Eve as the Aussies do, head for Sydney. The fireworks are nothing short of spectacular and you can spend the next day celebrating the arrival of 2012 on the beach!