Where in the World Will You Celebrate NYE?Where will you be on December 31? If this is your year to think outside the box and do something different, here are some intriguing options:
Fogo Island, Canada
Fogo Island Inn sits on an island, off an island, off one of the four corners of the earth. To get there, guests fly to Gander, Newfoundland and take a ferry to Fogo Island. If “Gander” sounds familiar, it’s because flights headed to JFK on 9-11 were diverted to this airport — a story that was beautifully recently re-told in the La Jolla Playhouse production of Come From Away.
The Inn opened in 2013 and almost immediately made Travel & Leisure’s “It List” of best hotels around the globe. It is renowned for its stunning contemporary architecture — every one of the 29 one-of-a-kind guest suites has dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows that open onto the wildest and most powerful ocean on the planet. Equally impressive is the commitment to the economic well-being of the local community. (www.fogoislandinn.ca)
By the time the ball drops in Times Square, 2016 celebrations will be well underway at Fogo Island Inn. Newfoundlanders are the very first in North America to welcome in the New Year. Guests at Fogo Island Inn will indulge in island traditions of music, poetry, fireworks and a “Seven-Season Supper” paired with wines by Norman Hardie, a winemaker at the forefront of the Canadian craft wine industry. This auspicious start to 2016 begins on Thursday, December 31, 2015 and runs through to January 2, 2016.
In Suzhou, locals and visitors literally ring in the New Year at the Hanshan Temple Bell Ringing Festival. Why? Because legend has it that each layman has 108 kinds of annoyances per year, and each bell tolling can help people dispel one kind of annoyance. A person who listens to all 108 bells toll on New Year’s Eve will have good luck and happiness in the coming year.
A New Year’s Eve feast with performances of lion dancers and performers on stilts takes place before the bell ringing. The ancient halls are lit by colorful dragon lanterns and decked with decorations evoking wishes for an auspicious New Year. From the main temple come the sounds of the assembled monks chanting Buddhist sutras, wreathed in thick, fragrant clouds of incense smoke. As midnight approaches, a lull of reverent silence falls over the crowds. Everyone listens respectfully as the bell is rung 108 times. As the echoes of the last stoke fades, the New Year begins amidst the lively crackle of countless firecrackers. Where to stay? Tonino Lamborghini Boutique Hotel is a good choice.
Eat, Drink, and Be Merri(on)
There’s lots happening in Dublin, Ireland over the holidays — including several days of horse racing at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival — and the elegant Merrion Hotel extends a warm Irish welcome. The four restored Georgian townhouses that comprise the hotel are decorated lavishly with trees, garlands, wreaths, and twinkling lights. Crackling log fires burn in the drawing rooms — a perfect place to enjoy a glass of mulled wine. Horse-drawn carriages await guests outside and historic Grafton Street shopping district is just a short stroll away.
The hotel’s Race to Dublin package December 26-29 includes lodging and top level tickets for the renowned Leopardstown Race Festival, one of the highlights of the Irish horse racing calendar. Then stay on and enjoy New Year’s Eve in the hotel’s Cellar Restaurant or Patrick Guilbaud, Ireland’s only two-star Michelin restaurant. (www.leopardstown.com, www.merrionhotel.com)
SYD – NYE
Fireworks on New Year’s Eve? Sydney, Australia, has the best display. They boom and bloom over the harbor, which is always beautiful, but even more so on the last night of the year. Locals pick their favorite spot — Opera House and Harbour Bridge views are best — and start looking for a good “possie” (position) early. (www.sydneynewyearseve.com)
For most of the world, December 31 is New Year’s Eve, but in Scotland, the last day of the calendar kicks off the biggest holiday on the calendar: a three-day national celebration known as “Hogmanay.”
In addition to general merriment and celebration, Scots observe a number of traditions associated with Hogmanay, the most popular of which is “first-footing.” Starting immediately after midnight, the “first-footer” is the first person to cross the threshold of a friend or neighbor’s home, usually bearing symbolic gifts (shortbread, fruit cake, or sometimes whisky) intended to bring different kinds of luck to the householder. A dark-haired man is said to bring the very best luck. Some celebrate Hogmanay with a ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee), a traditional Gaelic gathering involving folk music and dancing. Other Hogmanay traditions include massive fireworks displays, bonfire ceremonies, torchlight processions, bagpipes, and the singing of “Auld Lang Syne,” which was written by Scottish poet Robert Burns.
Visitors can choose between ringing in 2016 at a quiet Scottish country inn or joining the “biggest party of the year” in Edinburgh. At the Airds Hotel in the Highlands near Oban, the Hogmanay House Party is a festive four-day affair. Traditions include a freshly laid fire (to bring good luck) built with sprigs of juniper (to ward off evil spirits), music by a local bagpiper and ceilidh for dancing (with a caller to guide those unfamiliar with Scottish reeling).
The Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa in St. Andrews hosts a two-day Hogmanay celebration, including fireworks at midnight with a glass of bubbly, a Hogmanay tasting menu in the award-winning Road Hole Restaurant, full access to the world-class Kohler Waters Spa, and full Scottish breakfasts overlooking the Old Course.
Cheers! ELIZABETH HANSEN
Fogo Island iceburg: Photo by Paddy Barry courtesy of Fogo Island Inn All other Fogo Island: Photography courtesy of Fogo Island Inn China: Photography courtesy of Suzhou Tourism Ireland: Photography courtesy of Merrion Hotel Sydney: photo courtesy of ADAMS HANSEN STOCK PHOTOS Scotland: Photography courtesy of Connoisseurs Scotland