AS THE WORLD TURNS
World's Best New Year's Eve Parties
It's every city's favorite excuse for a party. Here are ten spectacular ways to ring in 2011.
Bangkok: A fresh tradition
If Times Square's light show doesn't cut it for you, head to the capital of Thailand, where a 69-foot-high Greeting Ball Tower signals the arrival of midnight. Outside of the giant CentralWorld shopping mall, about 300,000 revelers join hands to count down to the New Year. Throughout the evening, events include seven concert performances by Thai stars. Grab a glass of Chang beer from an outdoor garden for about $1.50. Details: handsbangkokcountdown.com or tourismthailand.org. Hot tip:Catch traditional Thai dance and folk music by heading to Sanam Luang, the city's historic parade ground. At midnight, fireworks explode over the banks of the Chao Phraya River. Photos: 1 of 1
Berlin: The best and the wurst
Despite temperatures of around the freezing point, Berliners host an open-air New Year's Eve bash, and the city claims that it is the largest such party in the world. Roughly one million merrymakers pack the nearly mile-and-a-quarter-long stretch between the Victory Column and the Brandenburg Gate. Colorful lasers illuminate the sky while music—mostly pop and dance—blares from giant speakers. Elsewhere in town, Germans are as law-abiding on Silvester (New Year's Eve) as always, lighting their private fireworks in designated spaces under the watch of "fire-workers". But they also cut loose with practical jokes, such as filling homemade doughnuts with mustard instead of the usual jelly.Details: silvester-berlin.de. Hot tip: If you need a breather, duck into one of the scattered party tents. Rest on free heated benches and munch on specialty sausages, such as bratwurst for around $4. Or else head to Unter den Linden Boulevard, which presents a clearer, less claustrophobic view of the fireworks. Photos: 1 of 1
Cape Town: Where the Second is best
Why does Cape Town save the best for the second of January? One theory is that a slave's only day off in 19th-century South Africa was on January 2, and so it's on Tweede Nuwe Jaar (Second New Year) that Cape Town parties the hardest. Up to 13,000 minstrels paint their faces a variety of colors and storm the streets for the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival. Expect crowds of more than 80,000. Clad in bright colors, participants carry instruments (such as whistles) and umbrellas while parading from Keizersgracht Street into Bree Street. South African wares and local delicacies are hawked in designated places along the route, and troupes compete for titles like Best Dressed. Details: tourismcapetown.co.za. Hot tip: Pop into a café along the cobblestone streets of the Bo Kaap residential neighborhood, where the Malay Choir Parade leaves on Dec. 30. Watch from indoors as minstrels perform patterned dances past brightly painted houses.
Edinburgh: Scottish night lights
The Scottish capital toasts every New Year with a four-day festival called Hogmanay (pronounced hog-muh-NAY). Two days before New Years 2010, a torchlight procession that passes Princes Street whisks a giant wicker effigy—this year's is a massive X, the Roman numeral equivalent of the number 10—to Calton Hill, where it's torched. Then on New Year's Eve, indie rockers like Richard Colburn of Scotland's Belle and Sebastian blast away in the streets, while other musicians perform at the West Princes Street Gardens. Nearby, there's a ceilidh, a traditional Scottish party where locals dance gigs and reels to a piper's beat. Details: edinburghshogmanay.org and visitscotland.com. Hot tip: Practice the traditional Scottish song "Auld Lang Syne" in advance. Everyone belts it out when the clock strikes 12. Photos: 1 of 2