Hey, you – congratulations! You’ve successfully survived the bulk of the holiday season. You stuck to your gifting budget, refrained from that third helping of pie, and pulled off small talk with even your most distant of relatives. It’s pretty safe to say that you completely “sleigh”-ed the game during the most wonderful – and oftentimes, most stressful – time of the year.
Now, reward yourself with a larger-than-life New Year’s Eve experience! Whether you’re looking for party inspiration or want to plan an awesome evening out on the town with friends, this list of America’s most over-the-top NYE celebrations will definitely encourage you to “go big or go home” when it comes to welcoming the new year. From Disney World magic to epic, all-night dance parties, uCribs sets the NYE standard with our round up of the best destinations across the country to get in that midnight toast – and maybe even a New Year’s kiss!
The Big Ball Drop in New York City
Leading our list is one of the largest NYE celebrations in the United States – nay, the world! With roughly one million people regularly in attendance, witnessing the Big Ball Drop in Times Square is not just New Yorkers’ favorite way to ring in the new year, but also a major bucket list item for many people worldwide. In addition to in-person spectators, this annual event draws billions of television and Internet viewers from every nook and cranny of the globe.
The Big Apple energy, flashing lights, and fireworks are one thing, but let’s not forget the real star of the show: the New Year’s Eve Ball. This year’s Ball is 12-feet in diameter and weighs just under 12,000 pounds. It’s also completely covered in Waterford Crystals (2,688 to be exact) and over 30,000 LED lights. How about that for some holiday opulence? If you’re cool with staking out the perfect spot amongst a sea of spectators, be sure to check out the Ball in NYC this NYE!
Endless Disney Fun at Walt Disney World
If you ask us, Florida’s Walt Disney World is an awesome entertainment destination any time of year, but the festivities reach a whole new level on New Year’s Eve. Dance parties, character interactions, and live music are the norm for the Most Magical Place on Earth—not to mention, special multi-course dinners and ritzy cocktail parties for older guests still seeking signature Disney fun.
Of course, New Year’s Eve is all about awesome fireworks, and you better believe that Mickey and friends do it to the nines. With various displays planned for different areas of the park, you can pick and choose which light show will put you in the most festive mood – or hatch a very strategic plan to catch them all! This year, Hollywood Studios will host a classic holiday show, a Fantasia-themed display, and an intergalactic Star Wars Spectacular. Epcot will begin an epic countdown to the new year with some killer, globally-themed parties. Finally, Magic Kingdom will deliver its signature Fantasy in the Sky display over Cinderella Castle. No matter which you choose to watch, you can bet there’s a Disney experience perfect for ushering in your new year!
Beachside Fireworks in Honolulu
Say “aloha” to the new year when you spend the holiday in a Hawaiian paradise! Aside from being set in one of the world’s most beautiful locations, the beachside fireworks at Waikiki Beach in Honolulu provide spectators with a first-row seat to one of the island’s coolest traditions. The fireworks themselves are something straight out of a movie. And by that we mean that they’re not just regular fireworks, they’re cool fireworks shaped like palm trees, sparkling fans, and falling leaves. Better yet? They’re choreographed to music broadcasted over local radio stations. Yeah, that’s right—choreographed.
In fact, this fireworks display is so massive, it can be seen from any point along Waikiki Beach, including its many resorts, restaurants, bars, and – of course – white, sandy beaches. Produced in part by the world-famous Fireworks by Grucci, a top-notch firework company with its hands in the business since 1850, it’s no wonder why Honolulu’s display attracts over 100,000 onlookers each year! Plus, where else can you sing Auld Lang Syne in shorts and a t-shirt?
Fremont Street Festivities in Downtown Las Vegas
Las Vegas is known for its world-class party scene, so it’s no surprise that Sin City hosts one heck of a New Year’s Eve celebration! While you can certainly get your kicks at a number of resorts, clubs, and casinos, the city’s most eagerly anticipated event happens along Downtown’s Fremont Street. Enjoy an authentic Vegas experience when you party down along the original Las Vegas Strip, which is as old as the city itself.
During Fremont Street’s New Year’s Eve party, seven blocks shut down to accommodate huge crowds of revelers seeking good times, great music, and perhaps a lucky win or two. Twelve bands will perform on four stages, and the Ball Drop in Times Square will be aired live on the world’s largest video screen. The area’s historic casinos, bars, and entertainment venues will remain open for business throughout the evening, and you’ll likely catch a glimpse of Mayor Carolyn Goodman as she toasts the crowd. Oh, and the jaw-dropping pyrotechnics show at the stroke of midnight is sure to make for an envy-inducing social media post or two.
Bayfront Park’s Dance Party in Miami
Sure, New York’s New Year’s Eve Ball Drop resembles something straight out of a disco fairytale, but we bet you haven’t seen quite anything like Miami’s Big Orange. Yep, every year on December 31st, the Big Orange prepares for its ascent to the top of the InterContinental Miami at Bayfront Park’s New Year’s Eve bash. This 35-foot neon orange with sunglasses has quickly become one of the city’s most beloved icons and serves up a uniquely Floridian custom with a smile.
Witnessing the Big Orange isn’t the only reason to partake in Bayfront Park’s massive dance party. Billed as the largest free party in South Florida, the bash holds titles by USA Today and MSN as one of the best places in the world to ring in the new year. The event has been hosted by the city’s very own Pitbull in past years, so you never know who will show up to get the party started. Hey, given this party’s free admission, we think it’s worth it to find out.
Nighttime Fun at Navy Pier in Chicago
While there are plenty of places to perform a proper midnight toast in Chicago, few destinations evoke the spirit of the city quite like the New Year’s Eve Block Party at Navy Pier. The popular locale for both Chicagoans and tourists is extra enchanting on December 31st when the pier stays open until midnight for an annual fireworks display over Lake Michigan, set to a catalogue of cheery tunes.
If you’re not into packed clubs, Navy Pier is an excellent alternative destination for anyone hoping to keep their holiday festivities on the tamer side. This doesn’t mean the famous address is a snooze, though. Leading up to the main event, you can indulge in any of the awesome attractions stationed along the pier, including the 200-foot Centennial Wheel and numerous art installations. Grab a bite to eat at one of the quick-service restaurants on-site and enjoy amazing views of the Windy City without worry of busy traffic or expensive reservations. With so much to offer in terms of a traditional Midwestern experience, it’s no wonder that Navy Pier is Chicago’s best place to usher in 2019!