7 Underrated Cities That Throw a Hell of a New Year's Party

By Noah Kaufman |

A fireworks display at Hogmanay in Edinburgh © nagelestock.com / Alamy

It seems like the same places get all the play on New Year’s Eve. From the ball dropping in New York to the fireworks over the Sydney Opera House to the nonstop fête in New Orleans, the major New Year’s celebrations are well-trod territory. But there are cities around the world that deserve more love when it comes to ringing in the new year. Here, seven surprising places that will be living it up on New Year's.

1. Savannah, Georgia

If you wish you could be drinking in the streets of New Orleans without the insanity of Bourbon Street, you could find a happy home in Savannah. Regularly recognized as one of the most beautiful cities in the South, it also has no open container laws. So get those to-go cups and paper horns ready.

2, Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands

We’d be willing to bet you haven’t heard of the tiny island of Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands. So you probably also haven’t heard of the destination's raucous, two-day New Year’s celebration called Old Year's Night. It’s not the easiest place to get to—you’ll probably have to ferry in from surrounding islands like Tortola or St. Thomas—but during the festivities they run boats every half hour to pick up as many revelers as possible.

3. Quito, Ecuador

In Quito, they carry out one of the best “out with the old, in with the new” celebrations anywhere in the world. All over the city, people create effigies to symbolize anything bad that happened in the last year. Then, just before midnight, they are piled up and lit on fire, letting everyone start with a clean slate in the new year. 

4. Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh barely cracks the top 10 for the biggest cities in the UK, but the city's annual Hogmanay festival over New Year's is something to behold. It features three days of partying, music, drinking and kissing. Lots of kissing. This year in particular is the culmination of a yearlong series of events called Homecoming Scotland, so it will be even bigger than usual.  

5. Seattle, Washington

When it comes to New Year's fireworks celebrations, few American cities can compete with the gorgeous explosions shooting off from 75 locations on or around the Space Needle. The Seattle area also boasts some of the best beer in America for New Year's drinking—and some of the best public transit, so you don’t have to do any New Year's driving.

6. Reykjavik, Iceland

Not only do locals put together their own fireworks displays, Reykjavik is also the most northern capital city in the world, making it one of the best metro areas to see the aurora borealis. Ringing in the new year with the northern lights should be on everyone’s bucket list.

7. Cape Town, South Africa

Huge parades and street festivals make the city feel like a moving party during New Year's. But Cape Town is one of those great cities that boasts something for everyone—if you want a traditional New Year's of eating and drinking, there are bars aplenty; if you want to spend the first moments of 2015 on the beach, you can find beautiful sand at Camps Bay; and if you fancy something a bit more adventurous, you can join the rest of the outdoorsy types climbing Table Mountain.

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