Join the ultimate beach party in Rio de Janeiro, where everyone's decked out in white, partygoers toss flowers into the ocean at midnight, and the cachaça is flowing. The spectacular fireworks at midnight are best seen on Copacabana Beach (it's summer in Brazil), and don't forget to eat 12 grapes at midnight, per tradition.
Find week-long celebrations in Tokyo, where a New Year's Eve bell rings 108 times at the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31 to reap prosperity in the New Year. The Tokyo Tower is the Japanese equivalent to Times Square, with huge crowds of revelers. Don't miss the chance to eat special New Year's Eve soba noodles, which symbolize long life.
As you might expect in Italy, Venice's celebrations are huge, multi-course feasts (of cotechino con lenticchie) with flowing wine that kick off late in the evening and go all night. Fireworks in St. Mark's Square are paired with a traditional big group kiss at the stroke of midnight as well as a champagne toast.
Hogmanay is arguably Edinburgh's most famous and anticipated festival, with thousands of torch-carrying partiers gathered to celebrate in the streets with Edinburgh Castle in the background. Live music, fireworks, and whiskey round out the night, with fruit and oat cakes on hand to sustain the celebrations.
Ah, Times Square — loathed by "true New Yorkers," but adored on New Year's Eve for it's iconic status as the ultimate countdown. The city that doesn't sleep is made for New Year's, with plentiful restaurants and bars hosting celebrations, some with great views of the ball drop in Times Square like the Ava Lounge at the Dream Hotel.
With the vista of Table Mountain on one side and the cool Victoria and Alfred Waterfront on the other, Cape Town is home to a fabulously laid-back New Year's Eve celebration. Dine on the day's freshest catch at the Waterfront or by Cape's Bay before joining in a midnight champagne toast.
For hard-partying on the beach to ring in the new year, look no further than Thailand's famous Koh Phangan, where throngs of revelers hit the beach for a wild party that lasts into the new year. Right on the sand, you'll find booths and stalls selling strong, tropical cocktails and delicious Thai bites.
Few places offer the delicate balance of wild debauchery, celeb-spotting, and fine dining the way Las Vegas does. The Strip is home to glitzy bars and raucous nightclubs from the Chandelier Bar to Tryst, mouthwatering restaurants like BARMASA and Bartolotta, and day-after beach parties, all lit up by miles of neon.
Sydney is beat only by the tiny island of Kiribati and a few cities in New Zealand (including Auckland) as the first places to ring in the new year, but Sydney throws the best party of them all. Start the night at Harry's Café de Wheels to try its famous meat pies, followed by a trip to the harbor for midnight fireworks.