People often opt for glitz and glamour when they celebrate the New Year: Over-the-top parties, music, fireworks, festivals, light displays, champagne and good cheer bring the world together, across different time zones, on New Year's Eve. Many travelers will revel in new traditions at these six vacation hot spots:
When the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve in Spain, it's traditional for people to eat 12 grapes, one for each toll of the bell, to bring good luck during the coming year. Guests guests staying at the Hotel Arts will be able to join in this Spanish tradition. For dinner, they can enjoy the cooking of famed Spanish chef, Paco Perez, of the hotel's two-Michelin starred Enoteca restaurant, which overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. Alternatively, they can wind their way up to Arts 41, for a gourmet dinner in the sparkling event space on the 41st floor of the hotel.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
The Hotel Matilda's inspired New Year's Eve dinner and masquerade ball will have a Marie Antoinette theme, complete with gilded retro décor. A five-course gourmet dinner, created by famed Mexican chef Enrique Olvera, will be served at the hotel's Moxi restaurant. From there, guests will be transported via horse-drawn carriages to a private mansion (once a European ambassador's vacation home) in the historic center of the colonial town for music, dancing and other surprises. Since San Miguel typically attracts many American tourists and expats, it's not surprising that the DJ for the party will hail from New York City.
United Arab Emirates
Guests at this lavish resort, literally sited in the middle of the desert (about two-hours drive by car from Abu Dhabi), will celebrate the New Year by choosing among several options. On New Year's Eve, the resort's dining restaurant, Al Wahu, will feature a buffet with European, Arabic and Asian dishes, accompanied by live music from a four-piece band. The rooftop restaurant with views of the sand dunes will offer a six-course dinner, paired with wines and live jazz. All guests are invited to a celebration in the courtyard for a live DJ, traditional Ayala dancing, an African drummer and fire show, and fireworks at midnight to mark the New Year.
At Sea in Australia
Guests on the newly redesigned Crystal Symphony will be arriving at Sydney, Australia, one of the first cities in the world to be celebrating the New Year. Passengers on the luxury ship will board glass-walled catamarans to observe the spectacular fireworks display in Sydney Harbor, which also holds the Harbour of Light Parade with a flotilla of 60 illuminated vessels.
In Thailand, people celebrate the New Year by casting lanterns and lights into the sky at the stroke of midnight. Guests at the breathtaking Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve will be able to participate in this tradition, symbolically casting their own cares and worries away. The annual White Party held by the Reserve takes place at a spot overlooking the Andaman Sea. The countdown includes belly dancers, fire-eating, and traditional Tribal attire.
At this historic country house and spa in Hampshire, guests will enjoy tea and minced pies before the black-tie New Year's Eve extravaganza celebrating Hogmanay (the Scot's name for the last day of the year) with champagne and Auld Lang Syne (also Scottish, by the way) played by a traditional piper.
Feel like you will miss the big party?
You can be reborn at Rosewood, Mayakoba in Riviera Maya, Mexico. Until April, this stunning resort on the Yucatan Peninsula will be offering its "Rebirth and The Ultimate New Beginning" packages, to introduce guests to the mystique of the Mayan Prophecy and the richness of Mexican culture. Among a host of other activities and beauty rituals, Rosewood's "New Beginning's Eve" parties feature a beachfront fest of local delicacies, Mayan music and a traditional purification ceremony led by a Mayan Shaman priest.
Can't or don't want to leave home?
You can watch the December 31, 2013 webcast of festivities in New York's Times Square (Crossroads of the World) and other festivities around the world provided by EarthCam, either on computer or by downloading a $2.99 app for iPhone, iPod, or iPads.