Travel
4 min

10 great places to kick off 2014

From Cape Town to Mexico City, fireworks and revellers will ring in the new year

Options abound for parties and places to ring in the new year. Credit: Aefa Mulholland

“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right,” declared the wise Oprah, and while she was most likely talking about dreams, destiny or diet, her preaching can just as easily be applied to our travel plans.

As 2014 swings into sight, it’s another year and another opportunity to explore a raft of thrilling destinations, many of which are great spots to ring in the new year.

So pick your travelling companion, pack your bags and leave 2013 in the dust.

1.  Sydney
New Year's Eve: A stunning and sunny spot to start off 2014, Sydney boasts the largest natural harbour in the world and an impressive ability to celebrate. The iconic Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge are the perfect backdrops for photos, festivities, fireworks and frivolity. Pick a perch near Mrs McQuarie’s Chair at the Royal Botanic Gardens, around Circular Quay or choose one of the dozens of points and promontories of Sydney’s north shore and sit back and enjoy the show, with 1,000 fireworks shooting up from the Opera House and 16 kilometres of rope lights covering the Harbour Bridge.

Once the party is over . . . it starts right up again. Sydney’s gargantuan Lesbian and Gay Mardi Gras runs from Feb 7 until March 2.

2.  Edinburgh
New Year's Eve: “The beginning is the most important part,” Plato said, and the Scots have long been enthusiastic celebrators of the start of each new year. Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is set to be as riotous as ever, with up to a million revellers due to party along Princes Street below the gothic Edinburgh Castle.

Once the party is over . . . there’s a lot poised to begin in 2014 in the Scottish capital, which sees a referendum on Scottish independence on Sept 18.

3.  Rio
New Year's Eve: Rio is one of the best places to kick off 2014 in style, as two million partiers dressed in white take to the sands of Copacabana Beach for outdoor parties and a dip in the ocean at the stroke of midnight.

Once the party is over . . . Rio is another place where the party merely takes a breather before starting up again. There’s even more to celebrate in 2014, with the soccer World Cup taking place from June 12 to July 13.

4.  Vienna
New Year's Eve: Celebrate Old World–style at Vienna’s formal Kaiserball, at the Hofburg Palace, or at one of a slew of classical concerts scheduled throughout the city, courtesy of the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna Symphony.

Once the party is over . . . saunter the Austrian capital’s elegant streets, sampling sachertorte and other local delights at the myriad Viennese coffee houses, institutions so loved they’re officially listed as part of the country’s “Intangible Cultural Heritage.”

5.  Madeira
New Year's Eve: Shake off all the woes and worries of 2013 and sidle into 2014 on this laid-back Portuguese archipelago off the coast of North Africa. New Year’s Eve sees the beaches and streets become outdoor party spots, and fireworks light up the North Atlantic night.

Once the party is over . . . sample the islands’ namesake fortified wines while tucking into the local speciality, black swordfish.

6.  Goa
New Year's Eve: Rilke said, “And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.” If you go to Goa, those “things that have never been” could include kite surfing in the Arabian Sea, exploring a legendary Saturday-night market and watching the sunset from a trance club carved out of a cliff top. Chaotic, crammed New Year's parties will dot the beaches and hotels of this former Portuguese colonial city of 1.5 million.

Once the party is over . . . in Goa, the party is pretty much never over, particularly on famed Anjuna Beach. Things are more laid-back on the new age-y Arambol Beach and quiet and less crowded on Ashvem. Goa has a gay scene, but it’s discreet.

7.  Morocco
New Year's Eve: For something a little different, make for the souks, stunning coast and dramatic mountains of Morocco. Start the year in style on the beach at the hip Atlantic fishing town of Essaouira.

Once the party is over . . . set off on the "road of 1,000 kasbahs" and explore the gorgeous Dadès Gorge, meet Berbers in the dusty-red Todra Gorge, be astounded by the sculpted sand dunes of the Sahara, explore fortified cities, take in the snowcapped Atlas Mountains and visit the rambunctious, sprawling Djemaa el-Fna, the market area of Marrakesh.

8.  Las Vegas
New Year's Eve: Las Vegas becomes an enormous block party for the turning of the year as almost half a million people fill the neon strip, which is pedestrianized from 5pm on. Catch shows by Britney Spears, Maroon 5, Celine Dion, Bruno Mars, the Pointer Sisters or Loverboy, then jostle into position for the best view of the fireworks at midnight — try in front of Caesar’s Palace or up on the observation deck of the Stratosphere — before hitting the party at LGBT club Piranha.

Once the party is over . . . Vegas never stops, and there’s a constellation of LGBT bars scattered around the city if you don’t want to stop either.

9.  Cape Town
New Year's Eve: More than 80,000 South Africans and visitors flock to this southern city for a New Year’s carnival of food, music and shows. Fireworks are set off all over the city and jazz strikes up in bars and clubs.

Once the party is over . . . saunter along the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, a bustling working harbour area. Stop into shops, bars and restaurants and catch a movie at the open-air cinema.

10.  Mexico City
New Year's Eve: Mexico City — or DF, as its known — offers world-class nightlife and a clutch of quirky New Year's traditions (wear red underwear, run around the block with an empty suitcase and eat 12 grapes in quick succession, to name just a few). Join in the festivities in the Centro Historico; street parties abound all afternoon and evening and fireworks explode at midnight.

Once the party is over . . . the city of 20 million has a few neighbourhoods with particularly exuberant LGBT life. Head to the elegant, relaxed and family-friendly Condesa; hip, boho Roma; and the über-gay Zona Rosa strip to soak up the ambiance.