3,2,'s who celebrates the New Year first to last across the globe

Recently updated on March 31st, 2022 at 03:22 pm

Happy (almost) New Year! December 31st is fast approaching, and with it a brand new decade. But of course, around the world we all celebrate the final stroke of midnight at completely different times. If you’ve ever wondered who has new year’s first (and last), let’s take a look…

1. Tonga

Tonga is one of the first countries to welcome in the New Year. Boasting white sandy beaches, azure waters and tropical temperatures in December, we wouldn’t mind getting the party started here.

2. New Zealand

Counting down to midnight on New Year’s Eve in New Zealand is an experience not to be missed. December marks the middle of summer in New Zealand and with almost everyone on their holidays, there are no shortage of parties, fireworks and events.

3. Australia

New Year Eve's Fireworks in Sydney Harbour (Sydney, Australia).

Sydney Harbour’s fireworks display is watched by over one million people along the waterfront and over a billion people worldwide! Its deservedly earned the accolade for being one of the best fireworks displays on the planet.

GET INSPIRED: Highlights of Australia and New Zealand

4. Japan

Japan, and in particular Tokyo, is a great destination to celebrate the arrival of 2020. New Year is a family festival where people spend time with their loved ones and engage in traditional customs and rites.

5. Philippines

In the Philippines, many gather with family and friends to celebrate during a midnight meal known as Media Noche. They then stay awake to greet the coming of the New Year. On New Year’s Day, fireworks are lit and cheering away the evil spirits is a common practice!  

6. Cambodia

Although Khmer New Year falls in April, celebrations take place on December 31st in many of the country’s biggest cities, full of colourful fireworks and lively festivities.

7. Thailand

Temple in Bangkok, Thailand.

Many locals travel to the Takien Temple outside of Bangkok to mark the New Year. Worshippers climb into coffins while monks cover them with pink sheets and perform funeral rites. This is to symbolize rising from the dead, getting rid of bad luck and a fresh start.

GET INSPIRED: Temples of Thailand

8. Myanmar

Yangon is one of Myanmar’s busiest cities for the holidays and is where most of the action takes place on New Year’s Eve.

9. Russia

Whether you’re in Moscow or Saint Petersburg, there’s plenty of activity to help you celebrate the changing of years in Russia, from festivals, to fairs and other celebrations. Be on the lookout for decorated trees throughout major cities – they’re a spectacular sight.

10. Georgia

Thinking of travelling to Georgia for New Year’s Eve? Well, you’re in luck and get to celebrate twice! In Georgia, New Year’s Eve is celebrated on both January 1st (traditional New Year) and January 14th (old New Year). Georgians believe that you should greet the New Year with generosity, so rich and mouth-watering dishes are always served.

RELATED CONTENT: 13 things to do in Georgia, 2020’s hottest travel destination.

11. South Africa

New Year’s Eve festivities in South Africa are pretty special. During the day many people spend time with families and loved ones and at night food, drinks, dancing and music fill the air.

12. Spain

Green Grapes on Vine.

Did you know that New Year’s Eve celebrations in Spain are amongst the greatest in the world? During the twelve seconds leading up to the stroke of midnight, people gather to eat twelve grapes (one per second) to ensure luck for the year ahead.

13. United Kingdom

New Year's Eve Fireworks near London Eye (London, England).

A dazzling riverside fireworks display fills up the London skyline at the largest annual fireworks display in Europe, to celebrate the arrival of the New Year. Don’t miss your chance to see this spectacular celebration.

14. Brazil

There are many different customs and traditions when it comes to counting down the New Year in Brazil. In some areas, candles are placed in the sand on the beach as it is believed to bring money, peace and love in the future. In Rio, New Year celebrations are the most important in the country with 2 million people filling Copacabana Beach to countdown.  

GET INSPIRED: South American Landscapes

15. Argentina

There is no shortage of options when it comes to ringing in the New Year in Argentina! On the last day of the year, people shred old documents and paper to symbolize leaving the past behind and around noon the papers are thrown from the windows to cover the cities with confetti.

16. Canada

New Year's Eve Fireworks in Ottawa, Canada.

New Year’s Eve in Canada is one of the biggest celebrations of the year! Ice skating, concerts, dancing, food trucks, and good old family fun can be experienced by all across the country including the nation’s capital, Ottawa.

GET INSPIRED: Best of Eastern Canada

17. New York, USA

One of the most famous New Year’s Eve traditions witnessed by over a billion people nationwide is the ball drop at Times Square, followed by a blizzard of colourful confetti. Be sure to arrive early to snag the best spot.

18. Alaska, USA

Northern Lights in Alaska, USA.

Bundle up! Alaska is another incredible USA destination that is the perfect winter getaway for celebrating the New Year. From parades to fireworks, and even train rides into the northern lights, there’s a reason for everyone to stay awake until midnight. 

19. Hawaii

The Aloha State is one of the last places to ring in the New Year, and if you want somewhere super special to celebrate, this place has it all.

GET INSPIRED: Hawaii Four Island Adventure

20. Baker Island and Howland

Last but not least…Baker Island and Howland. Located just barely north of the Equator, Baker Island and Howland are both uninhabited and the last place on earth to ring in the new year. 

How will you be celebrating New Year’s Eve 2020? Let us know in the comments below…

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