New Years Eve is traditionally a time to spend with friends and family at a party, gathering or out at a bar. I have spent the majority of the last 10 years on holiday over New Years Eve, celebrating the new year with my family and thousands of other people in a variety of different cities around the world.
Every Christmas and New Year for the last 10 years me, my mum, dad and two sisters have always taken a three week holiday, which normally ends on the 2nd or 3rd January. Both my parents are self-employed and the only time they can leave to go on holiday is over Christmas, so it was our one holiday a year.
We have travelled to a large number of places: Australia, America, the Caribbean, around Europe and Mexico. It never mattered where we travelled I just loved that I got to spend three weeks with my family. At home on New Years Eve, my family would all be in different places with friends, whereas when we were on holiday we spent three weeks together-no one had to work or see friends/ boyfriends, we were just in our own little world.
Yes, I admit that this is far from normal and most people would be horrified at the idea of going on holiday over Christmas and New Year but I believe it’s a great idea.
Every country does New Years Eve differently and it’s a cultural experience to be in a different country and see what traditions and norms they have. Here are a few places I have spent New Years Eve and what I thought was different about them:
1. Australia – Here’s the big one! Sydney for New Years Eve, what an experience! It’s one of the first big cities in the world to bring in the new year and what a fantastic way they do it too. Sydney just goes all out. We spent 3 days in Sydney before new years eve and then we had to move hotels on new years eve because there wasn’t any availability for that night in the whole of the city. It didn’t matter though, we booked a hotel on the outside of the city and caught a train into Sydney on New Years Eve morning. We debated where to go to watch the fireworks- we researched, asked around and decided that the Royal Botanical Gardens would be the best place to watch from. We heard that you needed to go there early to get a good spot, which we did. Apparently not early enough though, we spent all day in a big long line waiting for the park to open. When it finally opened we went inside, found our spot of grass to watch from and then waited for the new year to come. It was an amazing experience, being surrounded by millions of people and the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge providing a breath-taking backdrop to spectacular fireworks. Sydney is 100% a must do New Years Eve bucket list experience.
2. America – I have spent New Years Eve in a number of different cities in America including Loon Mountain NH, L.A., Orlando FL, Chicago IL and San Francisco. Many things were the same throughout the states-on New Years Eve and day everything is closed, people everywhere celebrate with hats, beads, glasses and they love fireworks. I have spent New Years Eve watching fireworks set off from a snow ski mountain, at Disneyland in California, from a pier in San Francisco and at a country club in Chicago. Each state is very different and there isn’t really a normal thing to do on New Years Eve but every major city has there own unique events and most include fireworks and parades.
3. I spent New Years Eve on an aeroplane once, which was a very interesting experience-it turned midnight about 6 times during the flight! We flew from Orlando to Atlanta and then Atlanta to London, we took off at 7pm American time and landed in London at 8am New Years Day.
4. Europe – I have spent New Years Eve snow skiing in France a few times. New Years Eve didn’t seem to be big in France-we just went about our normal day snow skiing. We had a nice dinner and they had fireworks on the mountain that we watched from our balcony, they also had a parade down the mountain where people skied down in a line whilst holding lanterns.
5. Colombia – Colombia on New Years Eve was the biggest culture shock mainly because I was immersed in a Colombian family environment. However, having said that it was still amazing. In Colombia they celebrate New Years Eve with a big family meal in the evening and fireworks at midnight. We were staying on the Caribbean coast of Colombia over New Years Eve and we started the day like any other, then had a big evening meal and made a fire on the beach. In Colombia many families have bonfires and fireworks and traditionally, in small towns or villages, they make scarecrows. They fill the scarecrows with fireworks so it explodes when they put it on the bonfire, burning away the previous year.
6. England – In England (at home) on New Years Eve people just continue as if it’s a normal day and then in the evenings many people either go to party at a friend’s house, throw a party or go to bars and clubs. Some of the big cities have firework displays, London has a very big firework display and fireworks are set off around all the major London landmarks. At midnight in England it’s a tradition to sing a song called “Auld Lang Syne” and everyone stands around together and crosses their arms in front of them and holds their neighbours hand and so on.
7. Jamaica – I spent New Years Eve in a resort in Jamaica where they had a live band playing and everyone was dancing. They had a huge buffet evening meal with lots of foods from different countries and carved fruit (such as water melons shaped like flowers and other fruits). They had an ice sculpture of the year numbers and everyone was given beads and other accessories. At midnight they gave everyone champagne for a toast and then fireworks were set off from the beach. The resort definitely put in a lot of effort to ensure that the guests had a great time in a traditional Jamaica style.
I have learned that the main thing that all these places have in common is that New Years celebrations make people happy, create a good atmosphere and create hopes for the future, no matter where you may be in the world.