By Erika Hueneke
These NYE parties make global headlines for over-the-top pageantry.
More than a million people gather every year to witness Sydney’s New Year’s Eve celebrations, and the party starts early: Several free vantage points open as early as 8 a.m. The official festivities kick off at 6:50 p.m. with a display of spraying water courtesy of a fire-fighting tugboat, followed by a traditional Aboriginal welcome and an air show. For revelers with earlier bedtimes, a smaller fireworks show takes place at 9 p.m. The main event happens at the stroke of midnight, when eight tons of fireworks and 100,000 pyrotechnic effects light up the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House.
Stay: InterContinental Sydney’s Club InterContinental package includes three hours of drinks, canapés, and a cheese buffet, as well as panoramic views of the fireworks from the Club Lounge on the 31st floor.
Las Vegas, Nevada
You’d better believe the Entertainment Capital of the World goes all out for New Year’s Eve celebrations. On the big day, the entire Strip closes to traffic, and some 300,000 party-goers fill the street to watch the casinos launch a choreographed fireworks display. The best bet: Arrive early in the afternoon and reserve a spot at an elevated viewing location such as Delano Las Vegas’ Skyfall Lounge.
Stay: Cosmopolitan Las Vegas hosts several NYE events, including an exclusive VIP experience at The Ice Rink at Boulevard Pool that features a three-hour open bar, live entertainment, party favors, photo stations, small bites, and firework views.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Almost 3 million people — all wearing white — fill Copacabana Beach annually for Rio’s legendary Réveillon. Crowds begin to form early in the afternoon, but things really get swinging around 8 p.m., when Brazilian and international performers take to the four stages. When the calendar turns over, a 14-minute pyrotechnic show lights up the sky; then locals wade into the water making wishes for the coming year.
Stay: Enjoy a ballroom dinner, a premium open bar, and live music at Belmond Copacabana Palace, where access to the viewing balcony puts you just above the heart of the action.
New York, New York
People have welcomed the New Year in Times Square since 1904, and few sights are as iconic as the 11,875-pound Waterford Crystal ball dropping down the flagpole. Onlookers begin to gather in the late afternoon and line blocks along Broadway and Seventh Avenue.
Stay: Escape the crowds at The Peninsula New York, which offers prix-fixe dinner options and a rooftop party with the ball drop broadcasted inside the bar.
On Celebrity cruise ships, the NYE celebration takes place in every lounge on board. Bar-hop from the open-air Lawn Club to the adults-only Solarium pool, which transforms into a nightclub hosting for the last night of the year. Every guest receives party favors and a complimentary glass of champagne at midnight, so you can raise a glass to 2020 with 2,850 fellow passengers.
Stay: The seven-night Western Caribbean Holiday Cruise aboard Celebrity Equinox makes stops in Florida, Mexico, and Grand Cayman; the balmy weather means counting down on the pool deck with a live band, noise makers, and a group singalong to “Auld Lang Sine” under the stars.