MAKING PLANS for the last day of the year can be a challenge, but at these places, “party” is the ultimate understatement. Whether you’re tossing beads in the French Quarter or dancing the night away on Spain’s most rowdy island, these vivacious venues will help you stumble into the new year in style.
THE PARTY: If you can get in, go to Pat O’Brien’s pub. Arrive before 9 p.m., order a hurricane and sing a drunken rendition of Auld Lang Syne. You’ll have the best time on the back patio. patobriens.com
THE TRADITION: The ball drops in Jackson Square, in front of the 167-year-old cathedral and across from the Mississippi River. Leave Bourbon Street for a few minutes to cheer and hear some live street music, then head back to the party. The bars never close in the Big Easy.
WHO WOULD GO: Recovering villain Adam Newman (Michael Muhney) from The Young and the Restless. He got a taste of the city’s finer aspects when the crew visited there in the fall of 2010.
THE PARTY: Dance till dawn at the Fontainebleau hotel’s Liv nightclub—18,000 square feet of lounge and dance space in a palace of modern architecture. Deejays spin a mix of rock and house music, and VIPs can spend the night in a private skybox that overlooks the entire venue. fontainebleau.com
THE TRADITION: While Miami doesn’t have many New Year’s Eve-specific customs, the trademark mix of dancing, celebrities and exposed skin runs strong.
WHO WOULD GO: We’re pretty sure CSI: Miami’s Eric Delko (Adam Rodriguez) has been going every year since Liv opened in 2008.
THE PARTY: Reveillon! About 2 million people flock to the Copacabana area every Dec. 31, where live music and dance performances start in the early evening, followed by fireworks at midnight.
THE TRADITION: The festival joins all levels of Brazilian and international society, from high-flying socialites to professional transvestites. Everyone wears white, although you can accentuate with any color you wish. Bring flowers to throw into the sea before midnight as an offering to Yemaja, the goddess of the ocean and motherhood.
WHO WOULD GO: Billion-heiress Caroline Channing (Beth Behrs) from 2 Broke Girls would have partied at Reveillon—before her finances went south.
THE PARTY: Make a beeline for Nasa club. The dance floor is the size of a basketball court, and the live music and brilliantly lit video screens add to the party atmosphere. Plus, since this city is the northernmost capital in the world, the night almost never ends—literally. nasa.is
THE TRADITION: According to Icelandic law, it’s legal to buy and set off fireworks in the days around the new year, a loophole that people take full advantage of.
WHO WOULD GO: The Vampire Diaries’ Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder) could never resist the beautiful people and perpetual darkness. If he’s lucky, Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev) might join him.
THE PARTY: Pacha, which can host 3,500 guests, is one of the most renowned clubs in the world. With five cavernous rooms featuring the music of different deejays, there’s simply no other celebration that compares. pacha.com/ibiza
THE TRADITION: In addition to attracting the best deejays, Pacha gives a nod to its Spanish roots. In the club’s restaurant, revelers eat 12 grapes as midnight strikes–a national custom started about 100 years ago in the wine-producing region of Alicante.
WHO WOULD GO: Gossip Girl’s Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick). This international fiesta, complete with skin-baring beach babes, is totally his scene.
THE PARTY: While mainland China celebrates a different, lunar new year, certain cities honor the Western New Year’s Eve. In Hong Kong, it’s marked by high-end fetes at all the international hotels. See if you can get a reservation at Café Gray at the Upper House for a six-course tasting menu you’ll never forget. cafegrayhk.com
THE TRADITION: There’s a countdown in Hong Kong’s Times Square, which gets packed with revelers early in the evening. The best plan: Find a good view of Victoria Harbor to watch the fireworks, which begin the moment the calendar changes year.
WHO WOULD GO: In the old city of Hong Kong, How I Met Your Mother’s legen—wait for it—dary lothario Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) would know just the right dens of sin where he could ring in the new year.
THE PARTY: All eyes turn to the water at the stroke of midnight in Sydney, one of the first world capitals to greet the new year. So it’s only natural that the best parties are the floating kind. If you reserve early enough, you can snag a berth on the Sydney Showboat for less than $1,000. It includes an open bar, titillating cabaret show and the best view at midnight. newyearsevesydney.com
THE TRADITION: The Sydney Harbour Bridge hosts two spectacular fireworks displays—the first at 9 p.m. for families and early retirees. The second performance, at midnight, is rivaled by none other in the world.
WHO WOULD GO: Rookie cop Kono Kalakaua (Grace Park) from Hawaii Five-O. She could be riding the waves at surfer’s paradise Byron Bay by Jan. 2.
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