“I will travel more” – a common addition to that list of well-meaning New Year resolutions. But why wait till the clock strikes twelve to get this plan into action? Instead, pack your suitcase and head off somewhere hot, or maybe somewhere cold – either way somewhere totally out of the ordinary, somewhere far-flung and unfamiliar to celebrate the New Year. Party under the stars in a traditional Bedouin camp in the heart of Wadi Rum, watch fireworks explode over the night sky in Red Square, surf in the waves in Essaouria, learn to salsa in lively Cuzco or pop the champange in Sri Lanka.
Get inspired with our pick of alternative places to start the New Year!
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1. Marvel at ice sculptures in China
Head north to the winter wonderland of Harbin for New Year’s Eve and see the ice creations of the world-famous Harbin Ice Sculpture Festival before it opens to the crowds. Talented ice sculptors from all over the world descend on this festival every year to construct sculptures on a massive scale, from exquisitely-detailed buildings of ice to models of world-famous monuments and enormous ice slides.
2. Sleep under the stars in Jordan
Count down to the New Year in the heart of Wadi Rum desert at a traditional Bedouin camp for a truly memorable start to 2014. Enjoy a lavish buffer dinner, fun party games, musical entertainment and a champagne toast while camping under a glorious star-lit sky. Add to this exploration of the hidden city of Petra, swimming in the Dead Sea and exploring ancient Roman ruins for the trip of a lifetime.
3. Watch fireworks in Russia
Make your New Year a memorable one and celebrate in Moscow’s Red Square. With an electric atmosphere and a spectacular firework show illuminating the distinctive turrets of St Basil’s Cathedral above the frosty square, this will be a party to remember. Explore Moscow, journey through Russia’s heartland for a steamy banya in Pskov and then head north to beautiful St Petersburg. Pack those winter woollies and prepare to party!
4. Spot the Big Five in Tanzania
This festive season head to the plains of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and go in search of the legendary Big Five. On New Year’s Eve cross the Serengeti to the Ngorongoro Crater and count down to the New Year under a spectacular star-lit sky. On the first morning of 2014 embark on a game drive to the crater floor, home to an abundance of wildlife – from elephant and rhino, to buffalo, hippo and even the majestic lion.
5. Surf the waves in Morocco
Escape to the sun and head to Morocco for the festive season. Snap up some bargains in Marrakech, spend Christmas day exploring the Atlas Mountains and go camel trekking in the Sahara, before ringing in the New Year by the beach in Essaouria, on Morocco’s stunning Atlantic coast. Kick back in this relaxed coastal town – the perfect location for a chilled out New Year’s Eve, enjoy delicious seafood and try your hand at surfing.
6. Learn to Salsa in Peru
Uncover the highlights of the Inca Empire in Peru this festive season and party till the early hours of the morning in the lively cobbled streets of Cuzco. Spend the day exploring colonial buildings, pretty churches and the Sacred Valley of the Incas and come nightfall follow the buzz and discover the city’s many bars and nightclubs. Learn to salsa and count down to the New Year cocktail in hand with new found friends.
7. Go trekking in the Himalayas
Dust off your hiking boots and wrap up warm for a New Year’s Eve quite unlike any other – for what could compare to witnessing the first sunrise of 2014 from 17,000 feet at the Everest Base Camp? Following in the footsteps of Sir Edmund Hillary, this challenging trek is well worth the climb, taking in friendly Sherpa villages, ancient monasteries, magnificent glaciers and the world’s most majestic mountain peaks along the way.
8. Explore Roman ruins in Turkey
Pop champagne in the pretty resort town of Kusadasi on Turkey’s beautiful Aegean coast for something a little different this New Year’s Eve. With lovely beaches and stunning views across the harbour, Kusadasi is a charming place to sit back and relax. The next morning head out to the ancient Ephesus for a first hand view of the finesse of Roman urban life, as you explore the ruins of the Mediterranean’s best-preserved ancient city.
9. Meet elephants in Sri Lanka
Step into a world of lush verdant jungle, cool mountains and ancient ruins this festive season and spend a week exploring the highlights of the Tear Drop isle. On the 31st December meet the residents at the Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawala and later ring in the New Year in the laid back hill city of Kandy. The next day venture into the heart of Sri Lanka’s tea country for a festive holiday with a difference.
10. Explore the highlights of Vietnam
Discover the spectacular sights, delectable cuisine and fun nightlife of Vietnam and Cambodia with this unique festive holiday. Ring in the New Year in the imperial city of Hue and stay up all night partying with the locals and fellow travellers until the sun comes up. The next day make your way to delightful Hoi An, and explore its cute shops, laid back restaurants and cool bars – the perfect place to kick back after a night on the town.