We know what you’re thinking: If you’ve seen one group of inebriated revelers sing “Auld Lang Syne,” you’ve seen them all. Well, that’s not quite the case. There are places around the world that ring in the new year with sword dancing. Others do it over grand six-course meals. Our editors scoured the New Year’s Eve scene from Scotland to Sydney and found five cities that make their countdowns truly special.
The Royal Horseguards, London
The Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Royal Horseguards in London aims to welcome 2013 in a classic, sophisticated style. Guests of this soiree will be greeted by a roaring fire and a Champagne cocktail, and then seated in the Gladstone Library, a stunning Victorian room with tiled pillars and 30,000 replica books lining the floor-to-ceiling shelves. A six-course banquet, including Scottish salmon with lobster terrine and caramelized Casterbridge filet of beef, is on the menu and after, guests retire to the hotel’s private terrace for some bubbly. The chimes of Big Ben, along with views of famous landmarks such as the London Eye and House of Parliament will set the stage as a flurry of fireworks erupt at the stroke of midnight.
Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas
Foodies: Look no further than the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas’ “Ultimate Presidential New Year’s Eve” package. Over a three-night’s stay in Sin City, you and yours will enjoy the New Year’s Eve Gala dinner with wine pairings from around the world at Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Twist by Pierre Gagnaire, who will be on-hand to cook the six-course meal. (You’ll also get a face-to-face with Gagnaire during a special meet-and-greet the French master chef will attend.) Complimentary pre-party primping at the salon is included, as is a couple’s treatment at the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star spa. Count down to 2013 with a bottle of Champagne at Mandarin Bar—your table for two will be ready at midnight. And when you’re all set to face the new year, head down to MOzen Bistro for a “hangover brunch” to refuel.
Luna Hotel Baglioni, Venice
Luna Hotel Baglioni, located in heart of Venice, is primed to provide an evening filled with dancing, drinks and dazzling décor. After a welcome cocktail—think Bellinis and Rossinis—in the hotel’s Fireplace Room, the New Year’s Eve Gala is the main event. It takes place in the Marco Polo Ballroom, an opulently decorated room with glittering chandeliers, flowing crimson drapes and, literally topping it all off, jaw-dropping frescoes by the School of Tiepolo. Live music of Italian melodies fused with international hits will get toes tapping while Latin American dancers perform. A DJ will also be spinning hits from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, providing shy, would-be dancers a familiar soundtrack so they too can hit the floor.
The Balmoral, Edinburgh, Scotland
The Balmoral in Edinburgh will usher in 2013 with its annual Hogmanay Gala Ball. The ball, which honors Hogmanay, the Scottish New Year’s celebration, will include performances by the Pipes and Drums of the Royal Burgh of Stirling and crooner trio Le Swing. Some of the best Highland dancers in the world will perform the Sword Dance and Highland Fling with instructions, meaning guests can join in on the traditional fun, too. When the clock strikes midnight—after cocktails, bubbly and a four-course meal by executive chef Jeff Bland—the musicians will ring in the new year with a traditional rendition of “Auld Land Syne” before the resident DJ carries the party into the wee hours.
The Sebel Pier One, Sydney
Dining at The Sebel Pier One’s recently renovated Water @ Pier One will get you about as close to Sydney Harbour’s world-renowned New Year’s Eve fireworks display as possible without cause for alarm. The restaurant is serving up a full spread of seafood delights at its New Year’s Eve event where you can dine on everything from Sydney rock oysters to blue swimmer crabs. Veuve Clicquot is the Champagne of choice at the party, which also includes premium beer and wine and a band playing dance numbers all night long. But this spot should be booked for the views—massive windows overlook Sydney Harbour and you’ll have ringside seats for Sydney’s dazzling display of fireworks.
Photos Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and The Royal Horseguards