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24 years of new year's celebrations around the globe

Updated: Jan 19

When the clock struck midnight on 1st January 2001, I was in Montreal, Canada and did not yet know that a tradition spanning at least two decades had begun.

For the past twenty-four years, I have spent New Year's Eve in a different city and/or country.

Moving slightly south from Canada, but sticking to North America, the first chunk of my New Year's Eve tour began in Texas.

2001-2002: Blanco, Texas. The night was spent in a barn, two-stepping to Tupac, eating BBQ and drinking cheap booze from an ice-filled horse trough. Does it get any more Texas than that?

2002-2003: Las Vegas, Nevada. Having just returned from a semester abroad in Sydney, it seemed appropriate to celebrate New Year's Eve with the boys from Australia's Thunder from Down Under.

2003-2004: Washington D.C. No politics were discussed and no fireworks were seen in my nation's capital, but a good time was had by all.

2004-2005: Boston, Massachusetts. We pahtied like only Bostonians do and had a 'wicked pissah!'

In 2005, I moved from the east coast to California and the next batch of celebrations took place in the great Golden State.

2005-2006: San Diego, California. A group of us rang in 2006 at the Big Night San Diego gala held at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront.

2006-2007: Lake Tahoe, California. It was a white New Year's Eve. There was skiing and broomball in the daytime. At night we warmed up by dancing and toasting to 2007.

2007-2008: San Francisco, California. On 30th December 2007, two of my best friends and I decided to head to Napa to buy some bubbles for the next night's festivities. On this innocent endeavor we ended up drinking more than we bought. New Year's Eve day was a bit of a struggle, but we managed to get out of bed and put on dresses. If I remember correctly, we all fell asleep well before the clock struck 12am.

2008-2009: Los Angeles, California. What a truly gnarly and rad party it was!

In 2009, I broadened my horizons, internationally, and have rung in the new year in a different country ever since (apart from during that wretched pandemic in 2020).

2009-2010: Derbyshire, England. This celebration was quintessentially British, celebrated in a traditional Victorian gastropub, in the historic village of Repton (which was basically Hogwarts).

2010-2011: Prague, Czech Republic. The evening was spent at a stylish cocktail venue, called Bugsy's Bar, adjacent to Prague's most renowned high-end shopping street. The mixologists were talented and the champagne was vintage.

2011-2012: Punta del Este, Uruguay. We wined and dined our way into 2012 at Boca Chica Carnes Asadas!

2012-2013: Cape Town, South Africa. The wind nearly blew us away, but we managed to hunker down for the countdown, at Zenzero, in Camps Bay.

2013-2014: Koh Phi Phi, Thailand. New beginnings were celebrated on a beach with fire jumping, neon body paint, buckets of booze, fireworks and non-stop music.

2014-2015: Madrid, Spain. The most famous Spanish New Year's tradition is to eat twelve grapes, one per second, for the first twelve strokes of the clock following midnight. This is meant to bring good luck for each of the upcoming year's months. *Top Tip: Choose grapes without seeds!

2015-2016: Valletta, Malta. Tucked between the bastion walls of Valletta was Rampila, the restaurant where we left 2015 and started 2016. After dinner, we took to the streets of Malta's capital to watch the display of pyrotechnics.

2016-2017: Kerala, India. In Kochi, Kerela, the Cochin Carnival takes place for ten days, ending on New Year's Day. It is famous for its colorful costumes, street parades, decorated elephants, music and dancing. On the night of 31st December, everyone heads to the beach. And I mean everyone. There were about 100,000 people there with me - probably 90% men and about 98% sober. At the stroke of midnight, the 37-foot Panaanji was lit on fire to resemble the end of the old year and birth of new (a 500-year-old tradition).

2017-2018: Porto, Potugal. Similar to Spain, in Portugal it is customary to eat twelve raisins, one by one, at midnight. Each raisin is said to bring you good luck for the months to come. I learned that raisins were less of a choking hazard and much easier to consume in quick succession than grapes.

2018-2019: Sal, Cape Verde. Unable to get a reservation, we arrived at PalmBeach Tropical Restaurant around 6pm to get a prime seat for sunset and fireworks. Celebrating the new year with your feet in the sand, seaside, with red wine and pizza was the way forward!

2019-2020: Vilnius, Lithuania. Slightly different to the previous year where there was warmth and sandy feet, this most recent New Year's was spent bundled up, as wet snow fell. After a hearty, delicious meal at Town Steakhouse, we popped outside, with our champagne in hand, to watch the fireworks over Cathedral Square.

2020-2021: Sutton, United Kingdom. COVID thwarted all international travel, so I got dressed up and celebrated at home, with my boyfriend. It wasn't a new country, but it was a new city for a NYE celebration, so my streak lived on.

2021-2022: Lanzorate, Canary Islands, Spain. Although COVID was still lurking, I managed to escape and meet one of my besties for an island getaway. New Year's wasn't a crazy celebration, but Lanzarote was a relaxing and fabulous start to a new year!

2022-2023: Muscat, Oman. Each year, New Year's Eve is celebrated with dancing, eating, drinking and watching fireworks on 31st December, per the Gregorian calendar. However, in Islamic countries this is not the case, as they follow the Muslim calendar. In Islamic Oman though, all the major hotels put on elaborate black-tie bashes, so the Westerners can party.

2023- 2024: Mexico City, Mexico. I ventured south of the US border to the tastiest destination in North America right now, to visit one of my dear friends from university, who also happens to be a very talented chef. On New Year's Eve, she prepared a six-course tasting menu for eighteen of us at a really cool space. What a tasty way to close out a year!

2023 - 2024: Belgrade, Serbia. In 2024, I celebrated two New Year's Eves, two weeks apart. The second, Old New Year AKA Orthodox New Year was celebrated on 13th January, in Belgrade, Serbia.

Cheers to a new year, everyone...And wishes for many more New Year's celebrations around the globe!


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