Guest post by Sarah Hendricks.
Around the world, the New Year is seen in with a range of interesting and unique celebrations. This means that the arrival of 2014 is a great time to take a trip. It might seem a little late to be planning a trip abroad for the New Year, but last minute deals can make this the most affordable time to think about booking. The four most interesting places to go for the arrival of 2014 are:
Australia is one of the first countries in the world to celebrate New Year, and also houses some of the best celebrations. In particular, the fireworks in Sydney Harbour are a fantastic way to celebrate the arrival of another 1st of January. Celebrations start with a "smoking ceremony", an aboriginal practice traditionally intended to ward off evil spirits, along with family fireworks in the early evening and a full-on firework display when midnight arrives. The harbour itself is packed with all kinds of boats including fascinating antique vessels. For a fee, some of these will let you board to watch the celebrations. Though there are plenty of vantage points on land, nothing beats the view from the boats when the fireworks start.
Synonymous with sun, Spain is one of the most popular holiday destinations throughout the year, and as a result is home to some great holiday deals and last-minute bargains. In the capital Madrid, the New Year is welcomed with all-night celebrations and intriguing local customs. You will want to bring a dozen grapes, as at midnight the city gathers around the clock tower and everybody eats a grape for each chime of the clock. Once the chiming is done, the partying begins. Don't expect much sleep, because celebrations don't stop until after eight in the morning. At this point, the partying is traditionally finished with "chocolate con churros." This pairing of Churros and hot chocolate will help you to finally unwind after the long but unforgettable night of partying, and leave you free to settle down for some much-needed sleep.
The prime New Year's destination in the USA is undoubtedly New York. Times Square is home to possibly the most famous New Year Celebration in the world, where people watch the new year ushered in by the dropping of a six ton illuminated ball. Thousands turn out to see it in person and over a billion more watch on TV. Afterwards, there is a concert with live performances from top celebrities to provide the soundtrack for partying into the small hours. All-in all, the celebrations are a fantastic way to see in the New Year and an unforgettable experience.
Japan is the perfect destination for those looking to make the most of their trip and fit in as much celebration time as possible. If you head to the Japanese capital Tokyo, you will get an experience unlike any other. Regular tourist attractions will usually be closed, but a host of alternatives will be opened up in their place. Celebrations last from 29th December right through until 4th January, with fireworks and a traditional New Year noodle dish called Toshikoshi. At the arrival of the New Year itself, Buddhist temples will strike their gongs 108 times. Perhaps the most compelling reason to seek a New Year's holiday deal in Japan, though, is the Imperial Palace. This impressive building is open to the public only on the 1st and 2nd of January each year.
This guest post was by Sarah Hendricks, who is a freelance travel writer with a goal to bag as many international festivals and events as she can manage in the space of her year-long backpacking trip.
Images by Herry Lawford and Borkur Sigurbjornsson, used under Creative Commons license.