It's time to say goodbye to 2013 and hello to 2014, a fresh new year full of promise and hope. And what better way than to do it than with a big bang?
From Winnipeg to Dubai, filling the midnight sky with fireworks is a time-honoured tradition travellers around the world love to witness. And while fireworks are now used all across the globe to ring in the new year, its origins date back to ancient China.
The Chinese, known for their invention of gunpowder, would plug bamboo tubes with the explosives and light them with a flame. The result? A spectacular burst of light and a loud noise thought to scare away evil spirits.
And really, there’s no better time to chase away bad energy than before the start of a new year -- lest your crops be ruined, your spouse runs away with your neighbour, or you’re replaced with a robot at your current job.
So, let’s bring on the noise, the spectacular colours, and the resulting "oohs" and "ahs", the indiscriminate hugs with strangers at midnight: 2014 is on doorstep. It's time to welcome 2014 with fireworks and a hearty party in a locale near or far.
Razzle Dazzle In Dubai
"Go big or go home" seems to be the unofficial motto of Dubai. The city is promising to break the Guinness World Record for the largest firework display, featuring more than 400,000 fireworks set off over two of its man-made islands -- The World and The Palm Jumeirah -- and choreographed to a special music soundtrack. It promises the most memorable six minutes of the year, witnessed by an expected crowd of just under two million people.
If you’re looking for a more intimate event, be <a href="http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/south-baltimore/bs-md-ci-new-years-eve-security-20131229,0,4389874.story" target="_hplink">among the 50,000 coming to downtown Baltimore</a> for the biggest fireworks show on the East Coast. It’s a huge draw for the city, pouring about seven million dollars into the local economy of “Charm City.” It may be a bit chillier than places like Dubai, but you can stick around afterwards for a feed of Maryland famous steamed blue crabs at a place like<a href="http://www.tripadvisor.ca/Restaurant_Review-g41133-d2259653-Reviews-Al_s_Seafood-Essex_Maryland.html" target="_hplink"> Al’s Seafood</a>.
With Edinburgh Castle as a majestic backdrop, the skies light up seven times during what’s called Hogmanay, a world famous event that sees travellers from over 60 countries on hand to bring in the New Year. It’s considered one of the best parties on the planet. By the numbers, it takes: two weeks for a team to fuse the fireworks properly, 40 hours to design, 20 tonnes of equipment, 13 kilometres of cables and wires, and 14 people to set up over six days.
High On Austria
Sporty types flock to Kitzbuehel, the home of some of the world’s gnarliest downhill skiing. Zip on your most fashionable ski gear and join over 30,000 spectators in a winter wonderland, punctuated by towering mountain peaks in every direction. New Year’s Eve events include a parade of torch-bearing skiiers, jumps over fire, and a fireworks’ display created by master pyrotechnician Armin Lukasser.
Partying In The ‘Peg
In Winnipeg, party central happens at the area known as The Forks. It has nothing to do with the number of restaurants in the area. The “Forks” refers to the junction of two rivers – the Assiniboine and the Red. It has been a meeting place for over 6,000 years and New Year’s Eve 2013 is no exception. Before the fireworks start at 10 p.m., Winnipeggers and out-of-towners can catch some boogie fever at a special dance party. If you go, don’t alienate the locals by referring to their beloved city as “Winter-peg.” They don’t like it!
An Icon Down Under
Most people can identify Sydney, Australia in a nano-second because of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It provides a dramatic backdrop for a fireworks display shown on television for more than a billion viewers worldwide. The bridge itself is gussied up with <a href="http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/sydney-new-years-eve-2013-our-guide-to-the-best-places-to-see-in-the-new-year/story-fni0cx12-1226791134363" target="_blank">16 kilometres of rope lighting</a>, stretching 12 storeys high and 72 metres high. Fireworks will also be launched from the Sydney Opera House to mark its 40th anniversary. With 1.5 million people expected to attend, it’s going to be a heck of a birthday party.
Viva Las Vegas
Glitz and glamour are no stranger to Las Vegas so it’s no surprise its firework display will be of a grand scale. The fireworks launch from seven rooftop locations around the city and will burst into the sky to a soundtrack featuring “Feel This Moment”, from Pitbull and Christina Aguilera. The bombastic display starts 10 seconds before midnight.
Dance Fever Hits Manchester
Manchester, England, is gunning for Sydney and New York City as the place with the grandest New Year’s Eve celebrations. Mancunians will flock to the city centre’s Piccadilly Gardens for party, which will include fireworks and an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the most people dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” “Billie Jean” and “Thriller.” Shake your groove thing and join in.
Grape Expectations In Mexico City
Locals head to the Zocalo, Mexico City’s main square to shout “Feliz año nuevo!” And when the clock strikes 12, they’ll pop a grape in their mouth at each chime and make a wish for each one. As they nibble, it gets noisy as fire crackers, sparklers and fireworks light up the night sky. Afterwards, energetic types head to the city’s night clubs and dance until dawn.
Brussels Sprouts A Party
The historic centre of Brussels jams up with families and couples waiting for the fireworks to start at midnight at Mont des Arts. As the sky lights up, attendees can spot the famous tower of Brussels City Hall in the Grand Place -- one of the city’s most stunning views. In surrounding neighbourhoods, locals set off their own fireworks and toast the New Year with champagne.
The New Year’s Eve festivities in Berlin are considering the best in Europe with more than one million people whooping it up as the countdown to midnight begins. The epicentre of the party is the famous Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column with DJs and international bands keeping the beat until the wee hours of the morning. Pick up some VIP tickets to one of the events held at restaurants and bars nearby for a good view away from the crowd.
Fired Up In Reykjavik
The capital city of Iceland gets into a party mood with fire in various forms. In neighbourhoods, giant bonfires draw together families for casual celebrations away from the throngs of partiers in the city centre. Meanwhile, other Icelanders head downtown to celebrate until the start of the fireworks at midnight. Those will energy left then they make their way into nightclubs that stay open until 5 a.m..
Brazil’s Epic Beach Party
The beach at Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro brings together almost one million people, turning it into one massive, energetic open-air party with live bands and a firework display made more spectacular with colourful explosions reflected on the water. This is considered one of the world’s best parties with a dress code dead simple: dress in white to bring you good luck for the New Year.
Seeing Red In Naples
Any ensemble worn for New Year’s Eve in Naples, Italy, has to start with red underwear. It ensures good luck for the year ahead (as long as you don’t launder them with white garments). Italians flock to the south to balmy Naples, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Its raucous event turns the waterfront into a giant nightclub with live music, DJs, hip hop and a dance floor big enough for you and every one of your Facebook friends and their friends. The madness also leads up to a fireworks display at midnight.
Oh La La Paris Or NYC
If fireworks leave your jumpy and start your hangover headache early, consider visiting a city that has a light show rather than fireworks displays. Paris is a favourite for its spectacular Eiffel Tour show where lights bathe the landmark in brilliant colourful hues. Or go for a tried-and-true favourite: New York City’s Time Square. No fireworks, but a ball drop that is broadcast around the world. Happy, happy, new year!
Up Next: Best Places In Canada For NYE Fireworks
St. John’s, Newfoundland
Be among the first people in North America to ring in the New Year at <a href="http://destinationstjohns.com/event/north-americas-first-new-year/" target="_blank">Quidi Vidi Lake in St. John’s, Newfoundland</a>. The party begins at <a href="http://www.stjohns.ca/media-release/new-years-eve-celebrations-and-fireworks" target="_blank">10:30 p.m</a> with a music broadcast and countdown by OZFM.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Visitors who find themselves in Halifax this New Year's Eve can be part of the city's <a href="http://www.halifax.ca/NewYearsEve/index.html" target="_blank">Party on the Parade</a>. The two-and-a-half hour concert features entertainers around the Maritimes and this year marks the celebration's 20th anniversary. Head down to Halifax’s Grand Parade to watch everything kick off at 9:30 p.m..
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
The island will be ringing in 2014 with outdoor celebrations including fireworks, performances by east-coast artists, ice sculptures and a children’s play area. Indoor entertainment will require tickets but also allow you to catch additional musical performances.
Saint John, New Brunswick
Those in New Brunswick looking for a New Year’s Eve party might want to check out Market Square. The annual family event is free and begins at 5 p.m. in the Market Square Atrium with activities for the kids. Events will continue throughout the evening with a midnight fireworks finale.
Head down to <a href="http://oldmontrealextravaganza.info/?p=49" target="_blank">Montreal's Old Port</a> to experience a fireworks display during the final countdown to 2014. Fireworks will be starting right at the ten-second countdown to midnight. Live bands will be playing on the Rickard’s stage from 10 p.m. until midnight.
Canada's capital will be hosting a free New Year’s party along <a href="http://www.sparksstreetmall.com/new_years_eve.html" target="_blank">Sparks Street</a> and includes the Maple Leaf Drop at 11:58 p.m., along with fireworks. There will also be a main stage at Elgin and Sparks St. with performances by Loon Choir, Cardboard Crowns, Mohrs, K-OS and 8barz.
Niagara Falls, Ontario
Head down to Clifton Hill to catch fireworks over the Falls and a concert in <a href="http://www.cliftonhill.com/events/niagara-falls-new-years" target="_blank">Queen Victoria Park featuring artists Serena Ryder, Demi Lovato and Sam Roberts Band</a>. For families with kids, there will be an early fireworks display at 8:45 p.m., as well as a second display at midnight.
The annual New Year’s Eve party at Canada's largest city will once again take place at <a href="http://wx.toronto.ca/festevents.nsf/71f045af752c4dc5852572fb00562e38/4e190c2ff4e3b0e685257c4400742598?OpenDocument&Highlight=0,*years*" target="_blank">Nathan Phillips Square</a>. The event is free and will include outdoor ice skating, an interactive curling experience, street food, musical performances, and of course, plenty of fireworks.
Travellers looking for a more private viewing of fireworks might want to consider the Elk Ridge Resort in Waskesiu, Saskatchewan. The lodge features the <a href="http://www.elkridgeresort.com/events/northern-lights-new-years-party.htm" target="_blank">Northern Lights New Year’s Party</a>, which is a full evening of indoor and outdoor activities on New Year’s Eve. Admission is $60 for adults, $35 if you’re 16-18, and $25 if you’re under 16. The resort will also have a fireworks display at 11 p.m.
Inside <a href="http://www.edmonton.ca/attractions_recreation/attractions/sir_winston_churchill_square/new-years-eve-downtown.aspx" target="_blank">Sir Winston Churchill Square</a> in downtown Edmonton, visitors can take part in the free, family-freindly events starting at 7 p.m. inside City Hall. The outdoor events kick off at 10 p.m. and include live music, ice skating, food concessions and fireworks at midnight. Photo Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/mastermaq/" target="_blank">mastermaq</a>
Downtown Banff holds an annual fireworks display at midnight, best viewed from the corner of <a href="http://www.banff.ca/Calendar.aspx?EID=1425&month=12&year=2013&day=26&calType=0" target="_blank">Banff Avenue and Caribou Street.</a> The event is free of admission.
Whistler, British Columbia
What was once home to the 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler Village will be a prime spot to ring in 2014. You can say goodbye to 2013 while watching a fireworks display best viewed from the Skier’s Plaza located at the base of the mountain. There are <a href="http://www.whistler.com/christmas/" target="_blank">no wristbands required</a> to see this event and it is an alcohol-free evening with both indoor and outdoor celebrations.
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