What's first on your NYE bucket list - the Scottish capital with Vikings-style revelries or the Big Apple with the ball drop? Our experts help you decide.
By Amy Cooper
Full disclosure: I was born in Scotland, so my bias is as innate as the whisky running through my veins. Where I come from, New Year - or Hogmanay - is a bigger deal than Christmas.
December 31 tops the Scottish calendar largely thanks to the Vikings. Our earliest invaders celebrated winter solstice by marauding, raging and torching with a ferocity that still sets the tone today, and Scots have been partying like it's 999 every New Year since.
Nowhere else does it in such full-blooded fashion: drummers, pipers, flames, swords and the traditional ceilidh - a whirling, flinging, whooping dance party that makes your average rave look like a peace vigil.
You'll find a hearty Hogmanay anywhere from the border right up to the Highlands, but the nexus of New Year is Edinburgh.
No stranger to a shenanigan, the festival city culminates its packed event line-up with the best of them all: Edinburgh's Hogmanay, a no-holds-barred, four-day blitz of parties, concerts, parades and fairs across the capital. And this year's 30th anniversary promises celebrations seismic enough to make Braveheart beg for a Berocca.
This year's 30th anniversary promises celebrations seismic enough to make Braveheart beg for a Berocca.
The Hogmanay Street Party on NYE sees 40,000 fun-seekers cavorting across a Tartan Zone of Scottish live bands, the Disco Zone's three decades of boogie anthems, and a kaleidoscope of street theatre, funfair rides, food and general merriment.
Brit band Pulp headlines a mega-concert with Edinburgh castle as backdrop, before the magnificent medieval monument unleashes the mother of all pyrotechnic displays for the Midnight Moment. At this point, all of Scotland bursts into Auld Lang Syne - and if you're a strict traditionalist, you do not link arms until the last verse (clue: it begins "there's a hand").
You can get lit at the Torchlight Procession, a re-creation of the ancient Norse fire festival and as pagan a parade as you'll ever see this side of the 11th century: 20,000 people bearing flaming torches down Edinburgh's Royal Mile, accompanied by fire-jugglers, flame wheels, drummers and pipers, and led by a Jarl Squad - a hair-raising band of Vikings in full armour, with shields, axes and winged helmets. It's a flaming gala. Such parades would customarily end with the burning of a longship, but in a nod to modern preferences, the Vikings will be raising money for charity instead.
More benevolence awaits those still standing on January 1, 2024, with free events including Sprogmanay, a fun afternoon for the kids at the National Museum, and the First Footin' series of live gigs across the city.
The only ball for me on NYE is the one I'd like to be having back in my high-spirited homeland. As for the drop - make mine a 21-year-old single malt, please.
NEW YORK CITY
By Mal Chenu
Start spreadin' the booze!
It's no surprise that the world's biggest party happens in the city that never sleeps. New York City on New Year's Eve is where - and when - the Times Square ball drops, the Ghostbusters defeat the slime and Harry gets Sally. New York is the king of the party hill; top of the new year's heap.
The Big Apple is home to the iconic (and wonderfully ridiculous) New Year's Eve spectacle - the 60-second descent of the Times Square ball, which has been a fixture in the city since 1908, and on TV screens around the world since 1972.
Of course, there are older tributes to the ticking over of the Gregorian calendar. Some even pre-date Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve. Hogmanay in Scotland, for example, "celebrates" with black buns, screeching bagpipes and festive haggis. They seem to believe this is a party but you can't put lipstick on a hog.
Pound for pound, party for party, hot dog for haggis, NYC is a better place to do NYE, so let's pull on our vagabond shoes, melt those little Scottish town blues away and return to Times Square.
Like many Manhattanites, the Times Square ball has had a few cosmetic updates over the years, and is currently comprised of 2688 Waterford crystal panels lit by 32,256 LED lamps.
The ball (actually an icosahedral geodesic sphere, since you asked) begins its drop at 11:59 pm and a minute later a million people scream and cheer as they are showered in one-and-a-half tonnes of confetti and fireworks blaze above.
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Partying in Times Square can be for the stout-of-heart and sturdy-of-bladder, so if you want more convenience, a rooftop bar is another option to watch the colourful bombs bursting in air over the rim of Manhattan.
The sparklers also rocket into life over Central Park, Battery Park, Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn and Coney Island, to name but a few more iconic vantage points, while party cruisers on New York Harbour witness an unforgettable pyrotechnic panorama crowning the Statue of Liberty.
The whole of New York is a bustling, thronging, thrilling hive of action and excitement on New Year's Eve. Before and after the ball, the city's hotels, bars, restaurants, diners, clubs and speakeasies eat, drink, sing and dance the night away.
Rock, techno, classical, jazz, comedy and burlesque shows are in full swing, nightclubs host 24-hour dance parties, ice-skating rinks glide until dawn and there are concerts at Madison Square Garden, Brooklyn Bowl and Radio City Music Hall, among many others.
Meanwhile, in Edinburgh, Hogmanay is underway. Shortbread is gnawed and Auld Lang Syne is sung with the correct pronunciation. But is this enough to beat New York City on New Year's Eve? It's a nay from me.