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Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa
Catch the first sunrise from the roof of Africa
At nearly 6000m above sea level, Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest freestanding peak in Africa and an excellent spot to witness the first sunrise of the year. You set off from base camp at midnight, and after six hours of trekking, exhausted and freezing with temperatures falling below minus 20, you may start to wish you never came. But once you reach the snowy Uhuru summit just before sunrise, you’ll forget about the relentless uphill climb and revel in the unparalleled feeling of accomplishment. Standing on the roof of Africa, gazing out at the glowing sun creeping over a blanket of clouds, this is one spectacular way to start off your new year.
A graveyard excursion for the whole family
It was New Year’s Eve 1979 when the Opazo Albornoz family bravely scaled the walls of their local cemetery so that they could celebrate in the company of their recently deceased father and husband. Little did they know that this clandestine act of love would become a tradition for thousands of families who flock to the now open cemetery each year and toast the New Year with the deceased. Far from the macabre images that come to mind, hundreds of visitors gather around artfully decorated graves, exchange gifts, and joyfully sing and pray together by candlelight.
Zojoji Temple, Tokyo
Cast your resolutions into the sky in an ancient Japanese tradition
To celebrate, on the eve of the 31st of December, Tokyoites holding balloons hurry to the Zojoji Temple to join a jostling sea of excited people eagerly awaiting the countdown to the coming year. Each person attaches a small note to the tail of his or her balloon asking the gods for wealth, health, and prosperity. As the gong strikes midnight, the crowds that fill the lantern-lit courtyard simultaneously release their balloons, sending their wishes into the heavens.
Junkanoo Festival, Bahamas
Dance in the New Year at this colorful costume carnival
Junkanoo first began during the three-day Christmas holiday that Caribbean slaves were granted under British colonial rule. Dressed up in hand-made costumes, they would take to the streets and lose themselves in the rhythm of the drums, copper bells, and mouth whistles. Today, as part of Bahamian heritage, the festival is a celebration of freedom. Held on the 1st of January (as well as the 26th of December) each year, there is now fierce competition between different groups for the most elaborate costumes and flamboyant headdresses. Starting at 2am, the ‘rush’--as the parade is known--continues in a frenzy of color and energy until the sun rises.
An explosive feast for the eyes in Iceland’s dreamy capital
With its dramatic landscape of volcanoes, glaciers, geysers, and waterfalls, Reykjavik has its fair share of admirers. But few know that the ‘smoky bay’ hosts arguably the most impressive New Year’s fireworks display in the world. The most awe-inspiring views can be seen from the top of the imposing Hallgrimskirkja Church. Take a flask of Brennivin to warm your stomach as you gawk at the beauty of the blazes and eruptions that illuminate the cobalt blue, cyan, and rust colors of the city roofs below. Later, head to the city and join the locals for an unforgettable all night party.
Fairytale cities, mulled wine, and sparkling lights - these Christmas markets will inspire and enchant.
Three writers share their Yuletide memories from surfing Santas to smuggling stockings.
Avoid the common and cliched for this New Year's Eve, and consider one of these celebrations instead.
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