New Year’s Eve break ideas

If your client’s idea of a great new year break is seeing in 2008 before anyone else, there’s only one place to be: Christmas Island.

The Pacific island, the largest constituent of the Republic of Kiribati, will enter the new year before anywhere else.

There’s just one problem – the islanders tend to celebrate New Year’s Eve at home. So if it’s a party your clients want, Sydney, Edinburgh or New York might be a better bet.

We look at what these four destinations have planned for the new year, and what holidaymakers can do once the party’s over.



Kiribati is a group of tiny islands about 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii. The locals see in the new year at home, at a maneaba (traditional meeting house) or at one of the few drinking establishments.

Festivities focus around communal eating, speeches, singing and traditional dancing.

After new year: With 33 atolls to choose from a beach is never far away. But island hopping is not easy, as they are spread over an area about a third of the size of Europe. Locals spend New Year’s Day picnicking and partying, and popular activities include snorkelling, diving, birdwatching and fishing.

Sample product: Frontiers Travel offers seven nights’ full-board at the Captain Cook Hotel on Christmas Island, including return flights from Honolulu for $2,022 per person twin-share. A week’s fishing costs $1,000.



Sydney’s new year celebrations take place along the shoreline of Sydney Harbour.

The fun gets underway at 1pm with the firing of the cannon on Fort Denison, and culminates in a 12-minute midnight firework display.

A family display takes place at 9pm.

After new year: Enjoy one of the city’s 40 beaches or try a harbour cruise. Take a walk around the historic Rocks district, where the first settlers landed,  climb the Harbour Bridge, or visit the iconic Sydney Opera House – with the extensive Botanical Gardens next door.

For shopping and dining head to Darling Harbour, home to the Sydney Aquarium. The best city views can be had from the top of the Sydney Tower in the city centre.

Sample product:Abercrombie and Kent offers seven nights at the Four Seasons Sydney over New Year 2008 from £2,299 per person, including British Airways flights.



New year’s eve is Hogmanay here, and the focus is Princes Street and the adjoining gardens. Up to 100,000 revellers pay £5 each to enter the designated zone, with tickets for the Concert in the Park and the Ceilidh in the Gardens extra.

There’s no charge to watch the eight-tonne firework barrage that lights up the sky and the night would not be complete without singing Auld Lang Syne. Be warned: bad weather intervened in 2003 and 2006 causing part of the event to be cancelled.

After new year: Scotland’s capital city is full of sights and monuments, including the Royal Museum, National Gallery and Royal Botanic Gardens. Fitter visitors can clamber up Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano, while the foolish can join locals for a new year swim in Loony Dook in the Firth of Forth.

Sample product:Golden Tours offers return train travel from London, three-star overnight accommodation and sightseeing tour from £195 per person.


New York

In New York, New Year’s Eve means Times Square. Get there early, wrap up warm and leave the booze at home as drinking in public is illegal.

At midnight an illuminated ball descends the flagpole of the former headquarters of the New York Times. The tradition, which takes its cue from the time ball at London’s Royal Observatory, began in 1907 when the city banned the previous year’s firework display.

After new year: Go up the Empire State Building for a view of Manhattan’s skyline, take the ferry to Ellis Island’s Museum of Immigration and the Statue of Liberty, or opt for a horse and carriage ride through Central Park.

Shop till you drop along Fifth Avenue, or catch a show on Broadway. New York is full of museums, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Tenement Museum. Go ice skating at Rockefeller Center or catch a game at Madison Square Garden.

Sample product:Premier Holidays offers three nights’ accommodation at the three-star Moderne Hotel with  Virgin Atlantic flights for £799 per person departing on December 30.

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