Ideas for a unique New Year’s Day and original ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve | Magazine PONANT

Celebrate like never before!

With friends or family? Outside or inside? At theirs or at yours? Black tie or sequins?… We all know the story. Every year it’s the same as 31 December looms. What if for once you asked yourself the only really good questions: Hot or cold climate? Vibrant city or wild nature? Beach or icefield? Northern or Southern hemisphere? On land or in the air? Treat yourself to the best New Year’s Eve ever and experience something new.

Be the first to celebrate the New Year over Milford Sound – New Zealand

From Queenstown on the South Island, take to the skies in a light aircraft or helicopter. Destination: Milford Sound, arguably one of the most beautiful fjords in New Zealand and the eighth wonder of the world, according to Rudyard Kipling. From high in the air, be among the first to enter the New Year, by virtue of the time zone, above breathtaking landscapes shaped by a succession of glaciations, between cliffs, mountainous peaks touching the sky and dizzying waterfalls hundreds of metres high…

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Dress in white in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro – Brazil

In Rio de Janeiro, starting in the morning of 31 December, mingle with the Cariocas who head to Copacabana beach dressed in white for good luck, to deliver offerings to Iemanjá, the pale-skinned, black-haired goddess of the sea. Brazilians come to place petals, jewellery, mirrors, perfumes and other personal items in small home-made boats. The long, uninterrupted parade takes place against a backdrop of prayers and music until the final 12 chimes of midnight that herald a spectacular firework display. The tradition then is that you jump over a wave 7 times and make a wish each time.

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Immerse yourself in Coon Carnival fervour in Cape Town – South Africa

How about celebrating the New Year… on 2 January?  In Cape Town, the party reaches its peak at the traditional and intense Coon Carnival, this “black carnival”, also known as the Tweede Nuwe Jaar, or the “second New Year”. Why on 2 January? The date is a tribute to the black slaves who were not allowed to participate in New Year’s Day festivities, which were for white people only, and who therefore had to wait until the next day to be allowed to celebrate the New Year. On the programme: banjo playing, Negro spiritual songs, black-painted faces, extravagant costumes, wild parades, a plethora of concerts and street festivals…

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Take a dip in Vancouver – Canada

Spend New Year’s Eve in Vancouver, the Venice of Canada, and join in a distinctly Canadian New Year’s Day tradition, dating back to 1920: the polar bear swim. Dressed in your finest swimwear – all eccentricities are permitted – treat yourself to a truly invigorating swim in the refreshing icy waters of English Bay. Tens of thousands of courageous people come every year to take part. And even if you’re not brave enough to swim, it’s a spectacle definitely worth watching!

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Be astounded at Saint Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum – Russia

Cloaked in its elegant winter coat, the city of Tsars and the former capital of Russia is strangely splendid with its unique blend of Slavic and European cultures. After strolling down the Nevsky Prospekt, dive into the friendly crowd gathered in Palace Square, on the banks of the Neva, to ring in the New Year around the town’s Christmas tree. On this same square stands the prestigious Hermitage, once an imperial residence, now one of the most beautiful museums in the world. Imagine some 60,000 works of art exhibited in a series of rooms each more dazzling than the last. From the ceremonial halls to paintings by the greatest Russian and European masters, you won’t know where to look first. And why not complete your New Year’s Eve on Russian soil with a troika ride, like Doctor Jhivago, in the grounds of Pavlovsk Palace?

original new year

Navigate the ice of the White Continent in a kayak– Antarctica

From Ushuaia, on the edge of the Tierra del Fuego, take the legendary Drake Passage to the White Continent. Put on a full-body dry suit and life jacket, grab your double paddle and learn how to kayak in the Antarctic. Paddle quietly alongside this incredible and beautiful white landscape, as close as you can get to polar ice, accompanied by qualified professional guides. A magical experience amidst all-powerful nature, at once secret and grandiose, like a return to the origins of life.

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Release paper lanterns in Chiang Mai – Thailand

Another atmosphere, another magical New Year, this time in the heart of the Northern Rose, the nonchalant Chiang Mai. You are bound to fall in love with the natural beauty of the former capital of the Lan Na Kingdom. On the evening of 31 December, illuminated lanterns rise up from every corner of the northern city in a heavenly sight that creates a truly magical atmosphere. On each lantern are inscribed its sender’s wishes for the new year… This ceremony is the Christian version of the equally well-known and popular Loi Krathong, an impressive festival of lights and lanterns that takes place across the country during the full moon of the twelfth month of the traditional Thai lunar calendar (in November).

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