Times Square may be the most recognizable New Year’s Eve party in the world, but attending is a logistical nightmare. Security is tight within 20 blocks of Times Square, you have to camp out for hours to even get within eyeshot of the ball drop, and you can’t move for pretty much the whole night (forget going to the bathroom). There are so many great parties to celebrate the last night of the year that you owe it to yourself to be literally anywhere besides Times Square as you count down to midnight. If you’re looking for a killer rager on par with New York, check out one of these other New Year’s parties.
Island Hop to Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands, for Old Year’s Night
People boat in from all over the Caribbean to attend the Old Year’s Night party on Jost Van Dyke on December 31. The party always centers around Foxy’s Bar, the primary drinking hub on the tiny island, which hosts DJs and VIP dinners full of local lobster and plenty of Champagne. The festivities also spread to the yachts parked in the harbor nearby, making this a true seaside celebration. When the festivities wind down, many pooped partiers take advantage of weather in the mid-80s and simply sleep on the beach.
Dance With Fire at Hogmanay in Stonehaven, Scotland
Scotland isn't much warmer than New York in December, but at least in Stonehaven, you can warm yourself by the fire—a massive swinging fireball, to be precise. The Hogmanay festival—which basically replaces Christmas for Scots and comes with its own form of Eggnog called Auld Man’s Milk—is best celebrated in this northeastern city, where parade walkers swing 2-foot wide balls of flaming newspaper and chicken wire. The national party lasts from the evening of December 31 all the way through New Year’s Day until January 2, so you have plenty of time to check out events in Edinburgh or Glasgow as well. Just be sure to bring plenty of scotch for your host.
Catch Fireworks on the Beaches of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Dust off your white shorts, grab a beach-ready drink and head to the sands of the Copacabana in Rio for Réveillon. Partiers clad in all white crowd the beaches to catch one of the greatest fireworks shows on Earth while sipping on Caipirinhas. If you’re looking to ball out in Rio, consider the party at the Copacabana Palace, where the Champagne flows freely and balconies offer a stunning view of the fireworks show.
Wander Down Party Mile in Berlin, Germany
You and your million closest friends can pack the Party Mile, the stretch between the Brandenburg Gate and Victory Column, for a serious Berliner outdoor party. Bars spill out onto the street and mingle with pop-up vendors and live performances on several major stages. Wander from bar to beer hall down the entire mile before popping into a club, which will likely continue bumping until the following afternoon.
Get Fancy at the Grand Ball at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria
Rent yourself a tux or evening gown because the New Year’s wear at the Silvesterball at the Hofburg Palace requires black or white tie (or “national dress”). The royal gala kicks off with classical entertainment from opera singers, ballerinas and plenty of waltzing. As the night goes on, though, you’ll find yourself dancing to Austrian electropop in your formalwear. Be sure to load up on coffee at the traditional Viennese coffee houses because the ball doesn’t wrap up until 4 a.m.
Catch the Minstrel Carnival Parade in Cape Town, South Africa
Kaapse Klopse, an annual South African festival, goes back a few centuries, with a colorful parade that rivals the Mardi Gras floats of New Orleans. Troupes make sudden appearances during the midnight hours of nights leading up to New Year’s Eve, but the real party goes down between New Year’s Eve and January 2, as parade groups explode onto the streets with face paint, umbrellas, glitter and brass bands. The music and party spirit are pretty infectious, so don’t be surprised if someone passes you a bottle of witblits, the local moonshine. And definitely don’t be afraid to take a swig.