New York gets all the fuss for its Waterford crystal ball and its throngs of people, but elsewhere around the world, New Year's is celebrated in its own particular way. We've found five answers to the question that people will no doubt start asking you sometime soon. From the weird to the wild to the sacred, pagan and/or profane, we humans have some strange ways of shaking off the old and welcoming the new.
Edinburgh's Hogmanay (www.edinburghshogmanay.org) is a possibility if you're looking for a more unusual experience and you're feeling reckless about the dollar-to-pound conversion. Hogmanay is a Scottish word for the last day of the year, and its namesake is a ceilidh, or festival that historically involves singing, dancing and storytelling. This year's event takes place December 29 through January 1 and involves ample use of fire, a procession, three stages of entertainment, revelry and noisemaking; eight tons of fireworks are set to go off. Organizers estimate last year's crowd at 100,000, but say there is still plenty of availability in the city's hotels and inns. Events range in price from £5 to £60. The Hogmanay site provides links to book hotel and hostel rooms in the city, along with a package) that starts at £269 for a four-day hostel coach tour and £349 for a luxury hotel coach tour. There are other interpretations of the festival, such as the one in Stonehaven (www.stonehavenfireballs.co.uk), where the party centers around a procession that involves swinging fireballs. Sixty marchers wield the fireballs, which are then thrown into the sea; they're believed to ward off evil spirits.
For a party that emerges organically from the very nature of the city itself, New Orleans gives you plenty to enjoy. On New Year's Eve many of the city's restaurants and hotels offer special promotions, and on New Year's Day football enthusiasts head to the Sugar Bowl at the New Orleans Super Dome (tel. 504/828-2440; www.allstatesugarbowl.com). Book your packages through Big Easy (tel. 888/299-1997; www.bigeasy.com) which offers two and three-night packages, starting from a mere $310 per person if you're sharing a room with three other people, or $410 per person for double occupancy, for a two-night package. Hotel taxes and accommodations are included, along with a reserved game ticket, a two-hour riverboat cruise, and a Riverwalk shopping discount book with more than $250 in savings.
If you just want to head to the Crescent City for New Year's and don't have an interest in football, International House (tel. 504/553-9550; www.ihotel.com) has rooms available from $249 with a two-night minimum during this period. The boutique hotel has been recently renovated and is located two blocks from the French Quarter. The festivities for New Year's are centered on Jackson Square and start at 9pm; a lighted ball drops from above Jackson Brewery to ring in the New Year. Other events include "Pop a Cork" for City Park, a fundraising dinner, and special dinner at The Hunt Room at Hotel Monteleone, and Buddy Guy performs at House of Blues. You can find more about it at the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau site (tel. 800/672-6124; www.neworleanscvb.com).
In Brazil, on New Year's Eve, people flock to the beaches of Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon in order to pay homage to the goddess of the sea, Iemanja, for a festival called Umbanda. She's also the goddess of fleshly pleasures, and people dance, smoke, and indulge in other hedonistic acts to ritualistically curry favor with her. The whole thing starts at dusk; Copacabana is just south of Rio de Janeiro. Gate 1 Travel (tel. 800/682-3333; www.gate1travel.com) is offering an eight-day trip to Rio that departs December 27, starting from $1,479, based on flights from Miami and a three-star stay at Mar Ipanema Hotel Standard. Airline fuel surcharges, roundtrip airfare, seven nights, daily breakfast and arrival transfer are included. Reservations require a full, nonrefundable payment.
Pasadena's Tournament of Roses (tel. 877/793-9911; www.tournamentofroses.com/rosebowlgame) takes place at the Rose Bowl Stadium, and this year's New Year's Day game is the 94th, and will be broadcast on ABC and ESPN radio. It's been a sellout since 1947. At this point inclusive packages are available only through an outside partner, Prime Sport (tel. 800/591-9198; www.primesport.com), which bundles accommodations at the Hilton Los Angeles for three nights, reserved premium end zone tickets, rose parade ticket, pre-game hospitality, round-trip transfers from the hotel to Pasadena, on-site assistance, and all taxes and service charges, starting from $1,325 per person, based on four guests sharing one room.
If you just want to buy tickets to the parade, that activity is handled through Sharp Seating Company (tel. 626/795-4171; www.sharpseating.com). A limited number of tickets are released in December to the general public and can be purchased through Ticketmaster. If you're staying in Los Angeles on New Year's Eve, you may want to know about Giant Maximus NYE (tel. 323/464-7373; www.giantclub.com), a party full of music, deejays and artists. It will take place at an eight-acre site off 8th Street and Figueroa in downtown Los Angeles, with a circus theme. The party starts at 8pm and admission is $80; you can purchase tickets from a link right off the calendar of Giant's home page. For information on where to stay, investigate the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau (tel. 800/228-2452; www.discoverlosangeles.com) has links to all kinds of accommodations options.
If noise generally makes you turn inward rather than join the mayhem, New York's Jivamukti New Year Silence (tel. 212/353-0214; www.jivamuktiyoga.com) offers guests the opportunity to meditate, chant and drink hot chai to welcome in the New Year in a yogic tradition. Doors open at 9pm and practice rooms will be open. At midnight, the silence will be broken with a celebration that involves food and music. Don't live near New York but you like the idea? Chances are a yoga studio near you is putting together a similar event. Check out Yoga Journal magazine's website (www.yogajournal.com) and click on "classes" to find a studio near you, or for information about visiting New York, hit the official visitors site (tel. 212/484-1200; www.nycvisit.com)
One final note about planning for next year if you are a classical music enthusiast. It is impossible to get tickets now for the world's most famous concert, the New Year's Day in Vienna, courtesy of the Vienna Philharmonic (www.wienerphilharmoniker.at); there are 30,000 people on the waiting list. However, starting January 2, 2008 it will be possible to enter a lottery for tickets for next year's performance, which you register for via the Philharmonic's web site. This year's concert will feature debut of Georges Pretre -- the first French conductor to do so. The New Year's Day performance is the most celebrated and anticipated one, although there are concerts held for several evenings leading up to it as well.
What are you doing to welcome 2008? Share ideas with other travelers on our Frommer's Message Boards today.