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Top 10 Spots for New Year's Eve 2004

The Netherlands
: Dutch Impressionism

The "Venice of the North" is renowned for its relaxed attitude toward sex, drugs and rock 'n roll, so it's probably no surprise that this is also one of the best places to ring in the New Year. The city’s centerpiece, Dam Square, erupts with revelers from around the world, who set off noisemakers and fireworks (they're legal here), pop bottles of Champagne and swig beer. But hip Amsterdam has more to offer than debauchery. For those who prefer to mark the change of the year in a more serene manner, take in the Van Gogh museum (but note: it will be closed on New Year's Day), and then head over to the buzzing Jordaan District for a coffee or dinner.


South Africa
: Say "Tweedenuwejaarsdag!"

When the clock strikes twelve in Cape Town, the place to be is the Waterfront with its restaurants, cocktail lounges, wine bars, pubs and jazz clubs—there are few more dramatic backdrops for a party than the Atlantic Ocean and Table Mountain. For New Year's, this vibrant city goes all out with costumed dancers, painted faces, banjo players, marches, South African delicacies and the top draw: Tweedenuwejaarsdag and the raucous Cape Town Minstrel Carnival. The hedonistic "Coon Carnival" and parade draws more than 80,000 revelers on January 2. Some folks say this one blows Mardi Gras out of the water!


Wyoming, USA:
Ski by Torchlight

New Year’s Eve in this winter wonderland begins with a day of skiing, sled-dog touring, snowshoeing or countless other snow-kissed activities at one of the resorts sprinkled along the valley known as Jackson Hole. Among the highlights: Gather the family together in the late afternoon and join the children's torchlight parade down the slopes at one of the mountain resorts. Afterwards, sit back and watch a fireworks display, or hit another resort for some live music. Hot tubbing and Champagne at midnight? It's your call.


Nevada, USA
New Year's in Sin City
New Year's in Sin City is out of control. The whole desert oasis turns into one huge celebration with the Strip and downtown lit up by 200 light cannons and fireworks. This night also sees Vegas shining the spotlight on its A-list entertainers. You want magic? Check out David Copperfield's show. Something sexy? With French import La Femme you'll feel transported to the famed Parisian Crazy Horse. The Fremont Street Experience features a party with a historical video projected from the hotels and casinos. A roster of endless entertainment—shows, rock concerts, parties—will keep you going into the wee hours.


Florida, USA
Big Orange Crush

Unless you're a model, rock star or frat boy planning to descend on South Beach for an all-night-party like the one taking place on Club Deep's 2,000-gallon aquarium dance floor, your night will no doubt take place under the sign of the big orange. Some 250,000 local folks and international visitors watch Miami's tropical rendition of New York's famous ball drop—the 35-foot neon "Big Orange" descends from the InterContinental Miami, with a grand finale of the largest fireworks show south of Times Square at Bayfront Park. There'll also be musical entertainment, family activities and many ethnic foods to snack on.


Dancing Feet, Dancing Strings

Montreal really knows how to throw a bash to toast the New Year. Pre-parties start on the 29th and morph into a classic bar hop on the 30th that draws more than 17,000 revelers. Montreal's Ultimate New Year's Eve Celebration takes place at Blu Montreal, with ten DJs from 7 p.m. – 4 a.m. For the fifth consecutive year, Montrealers and visitors will usher in the New Year at Place Jacques-Cartier, with an outdoor show at 9 p.m. and fireworks at midnight. For a more cultured affair, on January 1, the city pays homage to the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra's annual Neujahrskonzert via the Salute to Vienna concert at Place-des-Arts with the participation of the Strauss Orchestra and members of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. For a quiet celebration: just have a tasteful dinner and celebrate the next day with a horse-carriage through Old Montreal.


New Providence, The Bahamas
Can You Junkanoo?

Get plenty of rest for this New Year's celebration: it begins at 2 a.m. on New Year's Day and continues until 9 a.m. Junkanoo, the Bahamian equivalent of the Tournament of Roses parade, is a wild and colorful street procession, where the corporate-funded participants compete for the most outlandish costumes and best musical and dance performances. There are two Junkanoo festivals in Nassau annually, on December 26 and January 1. For the best viewing, buy tickets, which can be purchased in advance by calling the international toll-free line 877-THE-RUSH. Then join the party between Bay Street and Shirley.


City of Lights Fantastic

The Champs Elysées and the neighborhoods all around the L'Arc de Triomphe transform into a glittering, Champagne-guzzling sea of people on New Year's. But of course, cheering with the masses isn’t the only way to celebrate in the City of Lights. Arrange for luxurious headquarters at some of Paris' top hotels, make reservations at your favorite restaurant (note: without exception you’ll have to book a special New Year's menu; you cannot get a table otherwise) and take perhaps a river cruise on the Seine enjoying the illuminated monuments of Paris.


St. Mark’s Merriment

Masks, Murano glass and mayhem in St. Mark's Square: welcome to New Year's Eve in Venice. The crowds gather in the historic piazza before midnight to celebrate the passage into 2005, which is marked by the ringing of the bell of St. Mark's campanile. Afterwards, a professional fireworks display goes off along the waterfront—view it from the small plaza adjoining the square. To sober up on New Year's Day, consider participating in the time-honored swim in the icy Adriatic Sea that begins at 11 a.m. Your reward: a hot bowl of the traditional Venetian New Year's meal, cotechino and lentils, prepared by the event organizers.


Marking Midnight by a Swiss Clock

Those who think of the Swiss as staid and serious haven't spend New Year's in Zurich. Some 200,000 spectators will party all the way up to the Stockerstrasse and on the Stadthausquai and the Limmatquai for the biggest New Year’s event in Switzerland. Enjoy bars and stands serving delicacies like Gluhwein, Chnoblibrot, Raclettes and other foods from all over the world, as well as live music and DJs. At 20 minutes past midnight, spectators gather at Seebecken for a gigantic firework display that will set the night sky sparkling. Drink all the Prosecco you want, because public transportation will run until 4 a.m., ferrying night owls safely back to their hotels. And best yet, until January 10 many pensions and luxury hotels in the area offer one night free with one paid night.

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Top 10 Spots for New Year's Eve 2003

(Updated: 10/29/08 KR)

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