What are the most popular New Year's Eve events in cities around the world?
The most popular events, like fireworks and the Times Square ball drop, cost next to nothing, but more luxe experiences can run you hundreds to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Cover Photo: Dina Litovsky/Redux
If there’s one holiday that could be considered universal, it’s New Year’s Eve. We took a look at where the masses will be on New Year's Eve in cities around the world—along with some of the pricier alternatives. The most popular events, like fireworks and the Times Square ball drop, cost next to nothing, but more luxe experiences can run you hundreds to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Here’s a look at the costs of some most popular (and delightfully basic) ways to ring in 2016.
New Year’s Eve Fireworks
Expected attendance: 1,500,000
Cost: $0 (Public transport: $3.50-$5.83)
Sydney rings in the new year with an over-the-top fireworks display. In recent years, more than a billion viewers worldwide tuned into the show, making it the most-watched New Year’s Eve celebration in the world, while 1.6 million gathered in person to see an impressive assortment of fireworks launched from the Sydney Opera House. This year, revelers will see a additional 2,400 fireworks shoot off from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, along with special effects to honor the bicentennial of the Royal Botanic Garden and the 100-year anniversary of the Taronga Zoo. The official Sydney New Year’s Eve website features a map of vantage points, many of which are free, but you’ll need to get there early to snag a spot. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that some revelers started camping out on Dec. 29 to claim their territory. Given the influx of people for the event, road closures and crazy crowds on public transportation are expected.
$364 – Botanic Gardens Restaurant Party
$215 – Midnight at the Oasis Party
$275 – Clark Island Garden Party
The Royal Botanic Garden is throwing its own 200th birthday/New Year’s Eve bash. The Botanic Gardens Restaurant is hosting a fête with a seven-course tasting menu and fireworks viewing party for $364 per adult. Tickets to the Midnight at the Oasis party go for $215 and include access to the Garden Oasis on the Harbour, a three-course gourmet meal, a cash bar, reserved table seating, and dancing. Or, head to the Clark Island Garden Party for a fireworks view, coursed dinner and live music for $275.
New York City
Times Square Ball Drop
Expected attendance: 1,000,000
Cost: $0 (Public Transportation: $5.50 round trip)
One of the world’s biggest New Year’s Eve parties is also one of the least expensive. Revelers have gathered in Times Square since 1904 to ring in the new year, in honor of the opening of the new headquarters of the New York Times. The cheers from the 200,000 attendees were heard from 30 miles away. The tradition of lowering a dazzling ball began in 1907 after the city banned fireworks from the celebration. Now more than a million partiers brave the frigid December weather starting at 10 AM to wait for the annual midnight descent. With sponsors distributing complimentary New Year’s Eve hats, balloons, and scarves, revelers only need to cover the cost of transportation—$5.50 for a round trip on the Subway, because, let’s face it: you’re not getting a cab.
$$70,000 - $110,000 –
Knickerbocker Hotel Skypod party
$400 – Olive Garden
The Times Square Ball Drop may look spectacular on TV, but from the ground, it can be an uncomfortable experience: there are no public restrooms, no alcohol is allowed, the crowds are oppressive, and it’s very cold.
Nearby establishments are offering alternative celebrations, allowing revelers to view the ball drop in style. You can rent one of three outdoor "skypods" from The Knickerbocker Hotel in Times Square, which fit 12 to 20 guests in a festive space with a corner view of Times Square. The $70,000-$110,00 price tag includes dinner and dancing at Charlie Palmer steakhouse, rooftop reception, reserved skypod seating, three nights accommodation, and a New Year’s Day brunch. Or, keep it low-key at the Olive Garden in Times Square. $400 gets you a ticket to their New Year’s Eve bash, with a DJ, open bar, and buffet dinner.
Brandenburg Gate street party
Expected attendance: 1,000,000
Cost: $0 (Public transportation: $5.89)
A massive open-air party is how Berliners celebrate New Years Eve. The event takes over a 2-kilometer stretch of Straße des 17. Juni between Brandenburg Gate and Victory Column. Revelers let off firecrackers on the streets, take in live music and laser light shows, rendezvous in party tents, and toast to 2016 with a fireworks display at midnight. Public transportation tariffs start at $5.89 for a round-trip. Like much in the city of techno, there’s no official ending time for this extravagant street party.
$162 – New Year’s Eve Berlin VIP ticket
$64 – Big High Class NYE Party at Haus Ungarn
$22 – Burg Schnabel + Birgit & Bier
A $162 ticket will grant you access to nine clubs and 26 dance floors with the New Year’s Eve Berlin VIP Ticket. The price includes rides via bus and boat to shuttle you to the open bars at the venues, such as Spreewerkstätten, Kino International, and Spreegalerie Alexanderplatz, along with a fireworks display, live bands, and lounge floors. Another option is the Big High Class NYE Party at Haus Ungarn, just a few meters from the famous Berlin television tower, with tickets starting at $64. It’s got a buffet of Berlin-style finger foods, like curry wurst, potato stew, mini meatballs, and sweet yeast dumplings. Electro-music lovers take over five dance floors at Burg Schnabel + Birgit & Bier for $22, with a line-up of more than two dozen artists.
New Year’s Eve Fireworks
Expected attendance: 500,000
Cost: $15 (Public transportation: $0)
Thousands of partiers line the Thames on Dec. 31 to catch a glimpse of the annual fireworks display at the London Eye. If you were lucky enough to purchase one of 113,000 tickets (now sold out) for $15 (£10) apiece, you’ll have access to the best vantage points, such as the Victoria Embankment, Westminster Bridge, or Waterloo Bridge. For those without tickets, the Evening Standard has broken down the best places to watch the show for free. Try Parliament Hill, Hampstead Heath, Primrose Hill, or Millennium Bridge. The Tube will have reduced timetables, but it’s offering free service from 11:45 PM-4:30 AM.
$222 – The Shard
$64 – London Sky Bar
$22 – Strongroom Bar
Celebrate on top of the world at The Shard, Western Europe’s tallest building, which is hosting a thrill-packed party for $222. Or you can shell out $667 for the VIP package at the London Sky Bar, which offers an ultimate view of the fireworks display, international food stalls, all-night dancing, drinks, and a champagne breakfast. For free fun, ring in 2016 like it’s 1999 at Strongroom Bar & Kitchen’s “A Nineties New Year” party. Dress code is crop tops and flannel shirts.
Victoria Harbour Fireworks
Expected attendance: 300,000
Cost: $0 (Public transportation: $.50 - $3.35)
Hong Kong’s annual New Year’s Eve fireworks show is world famous and free. For the best view, partiers set up shop along the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade and Avenue of the Stars, or the Hung Hom Bypass or West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade, and prepare to take in the approximately 8-minute-long pyro-musical spectacular. A “2016” display will illuminate the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre as fireworks and special effects shoot off from the waterfront and rooftops. The Hong Kong Tourism Board encourages partygoers to make a wish when they see shooting star effects from the rooftops around the harbour every 15 minutes, starting at 11 PM Transportation on the MTR range from $.50 to $3.35.
$101 – Alice in Wonderland party
$252 – Superstar Virgo party ship
$77 – Bauhinia ferry party
The Pawn Botanicals Bar transforms into the setting for Alice in Wonderland starting at 8 PM. You can jump down the booze-fueled rabbit hole for $101, which gets you access to the costume contest, free-flowing beverages, treats, rooftop games, and entertainment. If your favorite holiday is New Year’s Eve, you can celebrate it for 30 hours aboard the Superstar Virgo party ship for $252 and up. Bauhinia Ltd. offers a New Year’s Eve dinner cruise, where you can watch the fireworks display from a triple-decker ferry for $77.
Grand Park + The Music Center's N.Y.E.L.A.
Expected attendance: 50,000
Cost: $0 (Public Transportation: $0)
Grand Park and The Music Center invite Angelenos to a massive (free!) festival, including three stages of live music, a light show projected on two sides of City Hall, food vendors, festive photo booths, and more. You can get to and from the family-friendly event for free on the Metro Rail from 9 PM-2 AM (yes, LA has a subway).
$99 – Queen Mary
$30 – Bootie LA NYE 2016 Sh1t Show
$75 – Gatsby New Year’s Eve
As one of the biggest party cities in the US, Los Angeles is in its true form on New Year’s Eve. You can hop aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach for $99, which is celebrating the 80th anniversary of the ship’s christening with fireworks, a full buffet (add $79), and internationally-themed “ports” on the deck honoring seven destinations around the world. Revelers can also buy $30 advance tickets to the Bootie LA NYE 2016 Sh!t Show dance party at the Echoplex. For $75, A Gatsby New Year’s Eve Celebration at the Shade Hotel Manhattan Beach requires slightly more formal dress.