As the holiday season winds down, New Year’s celebrations offer a festive end to the year and put the spotlight on our aspirations for the new year to come. The built environment plays an important role in these celebrations in cities around the world—from backdrops for stunning fireworks displays to venues for all-night gatherings.
Here are six New Year’s celebrations from around the world that incorporate the built environment in magnificent and sometimes unexpected ways.
1. Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Upwards of 2 million people flock to Brazil’s famed Copacabana Beach to party into the early hours of the New Year. Festivities include live music and fireworks. While the party can get a bit wet (celebrators are not shy about dousing one another with plenty of champagne or rushing in the ocean at midnight), it is customary to wear all white as the color is said to bring good luck in the New Year.
2. Taipei 101, Taipei, Taiwan
Taipei 101 is one of the tallest structures in the world and, on New Year’s Eve, it’s also one of the most dazzling. Once the clock strikes midnight, 30,000 rounds of fireworks are set off from all over the building, creating a magnificent spectacle of lights. Though this show is admired by spectators worldwide, this year’s fireworks display may be the building’s last. Reportedly, starting in 2017, the building’s owners will replace the fireworks with a light show using newly installed LED lights.
3. Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney, Australia
Australians ring in the New Year with a beach party by the iconic Sydney Opera House as they watch an elaborate fireworks shoot off from the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
4. Brandenburg Gate and Victory Column, Berlin, Germany
The Brandenburg Gate is one of Germany’s most recognizable landmarks. When the clock strikes twelve on New Year’s Eve, the 18th century triumphal arch sets the stage for an eye-catching fireworks display. If fireworks aren’t your thing, there’s the Berliner Silvesterlauf, a run through the city where costumes and appetites are welcome (there’s a jelly donut waiting for each racer at the finish line).
5. Tokyo Tower, Tokyo, Japan
In Japan, New Year’s Eve is known as Ōmisoka, or the “last great day” of the year. To commemorate the year’s passing, people listen to the “joya-no-kane,” the sound of temple bells being rung. At Tokyo Tower, people also gather to release balloons filled with their New Year wishes into the air.
6. Times Square, New York, U.S.
Perhaps the most iconic of all New Year’s traditions, the ball atop 1 Times Square has been dropping at midnight since 1907. Since its inaugural descent, the ball—and the spectacle below—has evolved. The 2016 version of the ball is built by Waterford and weighs in at more than five tons, including a whopping 32,256 LED lights. An estimated 1 million people brave the cold and crowds in Times Square every year, while billions around the world watch the spectacle on television.