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Top Ten Cities to Celebrate New Year's Eve

29/12/2015 10:22 GMT | Updated 22/12/2016 10:12 GMT

The year's end is soon upon us, and millions of revellers from around the world will be taking to the streets on December 31 to celebrate the end of 2015 and herald the beginning of 2016. But how do people celebrate the New Year around the world? We've picked 10 of the best cities to celebrate in - from Tokyo shrines to the beaches of Rio de Janeiro...

1. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Source: PortoBay Events, Flickr

In Brazil and South America, New Year's Eve comes during the heart of summer and is considered a time of renewal. Brazilians dress head-to-toe in white clothing, often never previously worn, as this is believed to bring good luck. Some people cleanse themselves in the ocean waters and toss flowers or small mementos into the sea as a gift to Yemanjá, goddess of the seas. The big event, however, is on Copacabana Beach, as more than two million people cram onto the two-and-a-half mile stretch of sand for the world's largest and wildest NYE party. DJs and bands begin playing the onshore stages from around 7pm, before a 20-minute midnight firework display rings in 2016.

2. Edinburgh, Scotland

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Source: Paul Williams, Flickr

Hogmanay is Scotland's world-famous New Year festival with three days of events, including live bands and a spectacular firework display. Things kick off on December 30 with a torchlight procession through the city, culminating in a firework finale. New Year's Eve itself is when the party really starts, with a host of street parties and outdoor concerts, including an open-air Kelidh (traditional Celtic party). Then, as the clock strikes midnight, 4.5 tons of fireworks explode over Edinburgh Castle while the streets ring out to Auld Lang Syne. Finally, New Year's Day brings competitive dog sledding across Holyrood Park, and daredevils leap into the ice-cold water of the River Forth. There are also some parades and festivals to round off the event.

3. Sydney, Australia

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Source: Bodie Strain, Flickr

Because of its location, Sydney is one of the first major cities in the world where the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve. The fireworks show over Sydney Harbour is the largest in the world, and over a billion viewers tune in worldwide to witness the celebrations. More than a million people attend the waterfront show, which features aerial acrobatics, an Aboriginal smoking ceremony to cleanse bad spirits, and the Harbour of Light Parade - a flotilla of up to 60 illuminated boats. Sydney Habour is the largest natural harbour in the world and makes a spectacular reflective backdrop to the two firework displays - one at 9pm and another at midnight. Each year the event has an overarching theme, and 2015's is "City of Colour", a tribute to Sydney's beaches, parks and vibrant city streets, as well as its diversity and rich cultural history.

4. London, England

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Source: Giggling Gigi, Flickr

More than 250,000 revellers flock to the banks of the Thames on New Year's Eve to witness a display of stunning pyrotechnics set to the chiming of Big Ben. Sites like the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament and the Shard provide the perfect backdrop as the London sky is lit up for miles around. Demand is so high that the Westminster event is ticketed due to prevent overcrowding, and tickets cost £10. The basic rule applies that if you can see the London Eye, you'll be able to see the show, and the best views are from Embankment, Westminster Bridge and Waterloo Bridge.

5. New York City, USA

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Source: Amit Gupta, Flickr

Around a million people gather in Times Square on New Year's Eve to witness the drop of the sparkling Waterford Crystal Ball and subsequent fireworks. Visitors are advised to arrive by 1pm to secure a prime viewing location, and the area is closed to traffic from 3pm. The Ball itself is 12 feet in diameter, weighs 11,875 pounds and can display more than 16 million colours, as well as billions of patterns. The festivities begin in earnest at 6pm, when the Ball rises to the top of the flagpole. Hourly countdowns and live entertainment then begin, with artists like Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus all having played past countdowns. Finally at 11:59pm the lighted Ball descends 70 feet in 60 seconds and onlookers are showered in confetti when the clock strikes midnight.

6. Berlin, Germany

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Source: Stefan Haubold, Flickr

One of Europe's biggest New Year's Eve street parties is celebrated on the two-kilometer stretch between the Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column in Berlin. Together, about one million people celebrate NYE (known as "Silvester" in Germany) with a huge open air party featuring live bands, DJs, as well as light and laser shows. For visitors requiring a bite to eat, there are also a large number of food stalls featuring cuisine from all over the world. This completely free event culminates in a midnight fireworks display, before the party kicks off at 00:30am - and in true Berlin style, there is no official closing time. Watch out for the thousands of locals who take to the streets at midnight to light their own fireworks - getting home might be hazardous!

7. Paris, France

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Source: Lili Rahmati, Flickr

Those lucky enough to be in Paris to usher in the New Year will find that The City of Light is one of the most colourful and exciting places to celebrate New Year's Eve. The options are wide and varied: from clubbing the night away, to enjoying a fancy meal, or joining the large gathering along the Champs-Élysées from 9pm. Although Paris does not have an officially-sanctioned fireworks display, when midnight strikes in the French capital, the Eiffel Tower displays a sparkling dance of light. The celebrations continue on January 1, when a festive New Year's Day parade proceeds down the Champs-Élysées, starting at around 2pm.

8. Vienna, Austria

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Source: Moritz Schmaltz, Flickr

Each year Vienna's Hofburg Palace opens its doors to host a grand New Year's Eve ball to mark the beginning of another year. The evening commences with a drinks reception in the main entrance hall, where a Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place, and the Emperor and Empress of the evening welcome guests. Ball-goers then proceed up the Grand Staircase to the magnificent Ceremonial Hall for a gala banquet. With its glittering chandeliers and rich golden baroque décor, this is the most beautiful ballroom in the Palace. A series of orchestras and bands play throughout the evening, enabling attendees to waltz between courses and into the early hours of the New Year.

9. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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Source: Gia Vasilevska

Traditionally on New Year's Eve (and throughout December, for that matter), the Dutch enjoy sweet treats called "oliebollen". These are delicious round doughnuts coated with icing sugar, and can be found at stands across Amsterdam. The capital's compact city centre is easy to navigate, and lends itself particularly well to impromptu street parties featuring people from all over the world. The Oosterdok is the location for the city's official celebrations, with the VOC Ship and the Scheepvaartmuseum forming the backdrop for a spectacular New Year's Eve event and dazzling fireworks display. Elsewhere in the city, fireworks traditionally illuminate the night sky above the Amstel.

10. Tokyo, Japan

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Source: Dick Thomas Johnson, Flickr

December 31 is considered a very important day in Japan, and many people stay up all night. Traditionally New Year's Eve is a low-key affair, with many people choosing to spend time with their families before heading to their local Shinto shrine to obey the ritual of Hatsumode (the first visit of the year). That's not to say Tokyo is short of countdown parties, firework shows, however. Streets and restaurants teem with people, and many eat buckwheat noodles to ensure health and happiness in the New Year. Temples ring bells as a countdown to midnight, and this adds a dreamy quality to the celebration. Visitors staying in Tokyo through to January 2 can even visit Tokyo Imperial Palace - one of only two days it opens its doors to the public.