Travel Picks: Top 10 places to usher in the New Year

SYDNEY Fri Dec 26, 2008 8:30am EST

1 of 3. Fireworks explode above Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro January 1, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Bruno Domingos

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Food, fireworks or freezing. Cities around the world have different ways of celebrating New Year's Eve and seeing in the new year.

Travel website VirtualTourist.com (www.virtualtourist.com) has come up with a list of the top 10 places to usher in the New Year. This list is not endorsed by Reuters.

"When it comes to New Years, most people seem to either love it or absolutely hate it, so we decided to offer choices that will both excite the optimist and at the very least, amuse the pessimist," said general manager Giampiero Ambrosi.

1. Coney Island; Brooklyn, New York

Although most people associate New York with the ball dropping in Times Square, an even crazier celebration takes place on January 1. The Coney Island Polar Bear Club uses the day to take a dip in the freezing waters of the Atlantic.

2. Sydney, Australia

Few cities can compete with the fireworks displays in Sydney. Not only are revelers treated to seeing the iconic harbor light up the night, but boats passing through are also illuminated in stunning light displays. Plus, it's fun to know you're experiencing the new year far ahead of much of the world.

3. Copacabana Beach; Rio de Janiero, Brazil

Wearing white to symbolize good luck, partiers flock to the beach to offer gifts to the sea goddess and drink champagne. Revelers arrive to watch the spectacular fireworks display, dance, and plant candles in the sand.

4. Mummers Parade; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Over 100 years old, the Mummers Parade is as much a part of Philadelphia history as the Liberty Bell and cheese steaks. With thousands of dollars in prize money at stake, it's no wonder participants take a full year to design costumes and choreograph routines, both of which are incredibly elaborate.

5. Ecuador

For those who have been chomping at the bit to express their dissatisfaction with world leaders, New Years in Ecuador is the place to do it. Partiers burn effigies of politicians that are pre-stuffed with flammable material like sawdust and firecrackers.

6. Tournament of Roses Parade; Pasadena, California

The Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California, started in 1890 and, according to the event's website, each of the 50 or so floats that wind their way down Colorado Boulevard uses "more flowers than the average florist will use in five years."

7. Japan

Head to Japan to attend a traditional bonenkai party. Held at the end of December, these get-togethers are literally "year-forgetting parties," held so that in January the celebrant's psyche is free and clear of whatever misfortunes may have occurred in the previous 12 months.

8. Rhine River Boat Tour; Germany

Known for its summer fireworks festivals, towns along the Rhine River use New Years Eve for a little winter night sparkle and observers say the effect is enchanting. Towns like Cologne are great stopping-off points for on-the-ground sightseeing.

9. Spain

If starting off the New Year with food is your thing, Spain is the perfect place. The tradition of eating 12 grapes in the 12 seconds before midnight is taken so seriously that supermarkets sell cans of exactly 12 grapes, as do local street vendors.

10. Venezuela

In Venezuela, those hoping to travel in the new year, carry a suitcase around the house on New Years Eve. Those with serious wanderlust will even take a walk around the neighborhood with it. (Editing by Miral Fahmy)

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