The best New Year's parties - in every time zone
Whether 2016 was your best year ever or one you'd rather forget, there's no better way to end it than with an over-the-top party.
No matter where you are this New Year's Eve — from New York City to Tokyo and everywhere in between — we've got the ultimate extravaganza for a fitting start to the new year. Read on for 24 time zones' worth of celebrations — and let the countdown begin!
New York City
No New Year's Eve celebration is more famous than Manhattan's Times Square event. Watch the ball drop high above the crowds at the Knickerbocker Hotel's exclusive St. Cloud rooftop party. The high-in-the-sky shindig takes place just 45 metres away from the iconic Waterford Crystal New Year's Eve ball.
The cocktail event will go into the wee hours with live entertainment from DJ Sam French, a full premium open bar, and passed hors d'oeuvres from chef Charlie Palmer. For an even more VIP experience, book one the rooftop's Sky Pods, where you can count down to midnight in the middle of it all with up to 18 of your closest friends. (theknickerbocker.com)
There's no shortage of swanky New Year's Eve events on Bermuda thanks to the island's two Fairmont hotels, both of which are serving up spectacular celebrations. At the Fairmont Southampton , the elegant Waterlot Inn is hosting a six-course gourmet dinner and wine pairing; afterward, head to the hotel's disco party to do the hustle right into 2017.
Across Hamilton Harbour, at the recently renovated Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, New York–based chef Marcus Samuelsson's restaurant Marcus' is also heating up the evening with a dinner celebration featuring Harlem's Nate Lucas All-Stars jazz and blues band. The party will continue come morning at Marcus' for a decadent New Year's Day brunch. (fairmont.com)
In Argentina's bustling capital city, Faena Hotel Buenos Aires remains a place to see and be seen. For dinner and a party (about $A870), guests grab a drink in the pool bar and cathedral, and another in the library lounge. Then they sit down to dinner at either El Mercado for traditional Argentinian dishes or the Philippe Starck–designed Bistro Sur for more contemporary courses.
All the while a Surrealist Ball will be going on with live performances throughout the hotel to capture the imagination. Join in the fun after midnight for about $A420. (faena.com)
South Georgia and Antarctica
Ring in the New Year with an epic dose of adventure on Quark Expeditions' Falklands, South Georgia, and Antarctica cruise, sailing from December 19 through January 7. The journey takes passengers through the remote Falkland Islands, the wildlife paradise of South Georgia, and the extraordinary landscapes of the Antarctic Peninsula.
Could there be anything more brag-worthy than spending New Year's Eve with a colony of penguins or a herd of elephant seals? The entire 20-day trip, priced from $US13,795 (about $A19,240) per person, takes place on the superyacht Ocean Diamond, where you'll spend New Year's Eve toasting the wild on a panoramic-view observation lounge. (quarkexpeditions.com)
Azores Islands, Portugal
Going incognito this New Year's Eve? Head to the little-known Azores, a cluster of nine islands in the Atlantic Ocean with hot mineral springs and top-notch whale-watching. The Portuguese territories are also home to a duo of Design Hotels promising plenty of New Year's fun.
At the trendy Azor Hotel on the island of São Miguel, the festivities include a special nine-course dinner, live entertainment in the Whale Watching Bar, and fireworks over Ponta Delgada.
On New Year's Eve at Bulgari London, dinner is a most decadent affair. On the menu (from about $A245 for four courses) are scallops served with watercress and Oscietra caviar, as well as blue lobster with purple artichoke and black truffle.
Richer still, seared Scottish Angus beef is plated with duck foie gras and Rossini sauce. Il Bar will host a glamorous celebration all evening with live music and a Champagne toast at when the clock strikes midnight. (bulgarihotels.com)
Nothing could be more romantic than New Year's Eve in the City of Light. For the ultimate lovebirds' celebration, the newly renovated Ritz Paris is offering an evening to remember at its La Table de L'Espadon restaurant, where acclaimed chef Nicolas Sale will serve a special eight-course meal honouring the best in French gastronomy and ingredients.
Dine on Imperial caviar, blue lobster, and roe deer with black diamond truffles before hitting the dance floor underneath a sparkling glass roof. Or, after dinner (which is priced at about $A3020 — that is, €2017), head to the legendary Ritz Bar, where a live DJ will ensure the New Year's celebration lasts long after midnight. (ritzparis.com)
Cape Town, South Africa
Remember 2016 with the rose-coloured vision of Lion's Head at sunset. The Ellerman House Art of Elegance Celebration kicks off with a toast in view of South Africa's Atlantic coastline.
Your last supper of the year will be six courses and a wine pairing, including poached crayfish, confit duck tourtière, and roasted beef fillet. Champagne, dancing, and live music will carry you into 2017. (ellermanhouse.com)
The Ritz-Carlton, Moscow is ending 2016 with a bang. In its O2 lounge — with up-close views of the Red Square and Kremlin — the hotel's top chef will put out a decadent six-course meal. Then the party goes until 3am with a Samba dance show and live music.
To accommodate for the late night, breakfast will be served the next day in the Club Lounge until 2pm and late checkout is granted until 6pm.
Toast to 2017 in the world's tallest atrium as the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah Elemental New Year's Eve party kicks off. Attendees then split up among five restaurants for dinner. Priced from about $A3040, the meals range from an Arabian feast to alfresco California cuisine.
Take your meal to another level with the hotel's Dining in the Air experience, which takes diners to the clouds in a dining room set 200 metres above the Arabian Gulf. After dinner, head to the dizzying new Burj Al Arab Terrace, where fire performers and a fireworks show will ring in the new year, followed by an after party in the ballroom. (burjalarab.com)
For the fortunate few with foresight to ring in 2017 on a Maldivian island, find fun for the whole family at Taj Exotica Resort & Spa Maldives. Children and adults can work up an appetite bowling on the beach with Maldivian coconuts.
The resort's Deep End restaurant will meanwhile be preparing a five-course Surf & Turf Gala Dinner. Afterward, the party ramps up in the 24 Degrees Lounge with fireworks and all-night dancing. (tajhotels.com)
Trade the usual holiday traditions for something more exotic. The 11-night Myanmar cruise aboard Belmond Orcaella (from about $A11,000 per person) spans the week between Christmas and New Year's with unusual delights panned for both occasions. Highlights include jaunts to serene pagodas among the Sagaing Hills and a private dinner at Min Hla Fort.
On New Year's Eve, in the ancient city of Bagan, see the Ananda Temple during sunset's golden hour. By nightfall, passengers follow the sound of live music to an intimate dinner on an Ayeyarwady River sandbank, then countdown to 2017 on the ship's Observation Deck New Year's party. (belmond.com)
Koh Samui, Thailand
A backpackers' haven in the 1970s, the Thai island of Koh Samui is better known today for its luxury resorts. Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui took over a picturesque hillside in 2007, cleverly constructing 70 ocean-view rooms yet barely disturbing surrounding palm trees.
Around the beachfront pool on New Year's Eve, guests can join the resort's Latin American Countdown Party. Dance and drink to live Latin music, and later to DJ-spun beats. Flutes of Champagne will be passed around just before the big countdown.
Pre-party at one of the resort's three restaurants, including Pla Pla serving a special five-course gala dinner that night. (fourseasons.com)
One night. One hotel. Three parties. Make reservations to spend New Year's with Peninsula Shanghai in any of three venues. The formal gala dinner in the lobby will be a five-course feast (about $A275).
In Yi Long Court, enjoy an eight-course Cantonese menu (about $A385). At Sir Elly's, the 1970s Cocktail Party will carry an aviation theme, celebrating the Concorde jet before sweeping views of the Shanghai skyline. (peninsula.com)
New Year's Eve in one of the world's most exciting cities is a guaranteed festive affair. Head to the Countdown Lounge at the Park Hyatt Tokyo's 41st-floor Peak Lounge & Bar for a truly unforgettable night.
Featuring some of Japan's most famous DJs, the party will last well into the wee hours with free-flowing Champagne, cocktails, and canapés.
Make the celebration even bigger with dinner at the Park Hyatt's legendary New York Grill & Bar, where the party will be fuelled by Krug Champagne, live jazz, and more spectacular views. (tokyo.park.hyatt.com)
The Australian Outback
Far from any coast, smack in the middle of the Australian continent, and deep in the wild Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park, Longitude 131° is a true taste of the outback.
It's also the perfect location for an epic New Year's Eve celebration where guests can glimpse the sacred red domes of Kata Tjuta and some of the world's largest monoliths in Ayers Rock.
Weather permitting, toast the new year with a four-course meal at the outdoor restaurant Table 131°, then skip the fireworks in favour of the brilliant Southerly constellations above. (longitude131.com.au)
Sydney is a favourite for New Year's Eve partiers. The Aussie city — which counts down the end of the year just as most of us are waking up on December 31st — brings more than a little sparkle to the celebration, blasting its gorgeous waterfront and iconic Sydney Opera House with one of the biggest fireworks shows of the holiday.
Take it all in from the waterfront Guest House at the Park Hyatt Sydney ($515) where Belvedere Vodka will be mixing the drinks and a DJ will be spinning into the early hours.
Grab a special someone and wander away from the party to the boardwalk, where between the Harbor Bridge and the Opera House, party-goers have exclusive access — and more amazing views — across the glittering waters for a night to remember. (sydney.park.hyatt.com)
The Great Barrier Reef, Australia
A diver's haven, the Great Barrier Reef is a bucket-list destination for anyone who loves the sand and the sea. It's also the perfect place for a low-key New Year's Eve full of crystalline waters and bubbling toasts. Our pick for the perfect tropical New Year's Eve celebration? Hamilton Island's Qualia resort.
The 60-pavilion retreat nestled among eucalyptus trees above the Coral Sea is the ultimate setting to watch the sunset — whether from your infinity-edge swimming pool, the resort's private beach, or the Robinson Crusoe–style Pebble Beach restaurant — on the last day of 2016.
Start 2017 off right with a snorkel, a dive, or a helicopter ride over the famous Heart Reef. (qualia.com.au)
Queenstown, New Zealand
New Year's Eve in one of the most picturesque destinations on earth should be done at one of the best lodges on earth.
New Zealand's Matakauri Lodge, located a short drive from Queenstown on sparkling Lake Wakatipu, is just the spot to ring in 2017, offering a five-course tasting menu, live entertainment, and dancing for the occasion.
Count down to midnight with free-flowing Champagne, and then retreat to your room — our favourite is the stunning four-bedroom Owner's Cottage — for late-night cocktails in your private hot tub. (matakaurilodge.com)
Big Island, Hawaii
Say Hau'oli Makahiki Hou (that is, "Happy New Year" in Hawaiian) with the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai's New Year's Eve Gala Under the Stars (about $A520 per person).
Guests of the hotel can begin their celebration with a poolside dinner buffet and end it with a beach dance party, a dessert buffet, and a fireworks show over the Pacific's crashing waves. (fourseasons.com)
Think you're brave enough to weather the New Year in the frigid Arctic? Make your expedition in style with Infinity Yacht Charters , which can take you past crackling glaciers, snow-covered mountains, and roving polar bears aboard the 22-metre superyacht Viaggio.
The crewed boat can host up to six passengers in three staterooms, and features all the toys you need for an intrepid northern exposure: kayaks, fishing gear, and a sport tender. It also features all the perks you'll want for a decadent New Year's Eve celebration: a personal chef, a saloon, and a lounge. (infinityyachts.com)
Beverly Hills, California
Party privately in Los Angeles this New Year's with Le Grande Expérience, Bonne Année 2017 at Viceroy L'Ermitage Beverly Hills. The package (about $A41,830 for up to 10 people) includes a night in the hotel's newly renovated presidential suite, equipped with a private theatre for watching the ball drop in Times Square.
Celebrate all night with vintage Champagne, Beluga caviar, oysters, lobster, langoustine tartare with blood orange and cucumber, and scallops with cauliflower purée. (viceroyhotelsandresorts.com)
The Little Nell's new Clicquot Cat experience makes for a luxurious evening, combining privacy, Champagne, and plenty of caviar. Priced from $US10,000 (about $A13,940) for up to 12 people, participants climb into their heated snowcat at the base of Ajax for a ride up the Little Nell run.
At the top, blankets are set on the snowy peak, and staff are on hand to pour Veuve Clicquot's La Grande Dam Champagne, spoon Royal Kaluga Caviar, and mix Schnapps-spiked hot chocolates.
The special December 31 experience can be booked for 8pm and midnight, timed with the night's two local fireworks shows over Aspen Mountain. (thelittlenell.com)
Punta Mita, Mexico
Heading south of the border for the new year? Make the beachfront village of Punta Mita your home base for a truly espectacular end to 2016.
At the Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, the fiesta starts with an authentic Mexican village festival at Las Cuevas Beach, complete with art exhibits and live Latin music.
The evening heats up further with a culinary feast of indigenous dishes and modern Mexican fare, following by dancing. End the evening with a margarita toast while watching a magnificent fireworks show light up the midnight sky. (fourseasons.com)