Best Cities to Celebrate New Year’s Eve in South America
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Best Cities to Celebrate New Year’s Eve in South America

8 min read

Nov 1, 2018

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By Margo Lynott

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Last updated on October 16th, 2020 at 01:54 pm

Celebrate New Year’s in South America

If you are looking for an exciting and adventurous way to ring in the New Year, travel to one of our recommended destinations in South America. From Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, and Colombia, each country has its unique New Year’s Eve traditions and festivities, perfect for any traveler. A New Year’s Eve in South America will be a celebration you’ll never forget. Read below for the top-rated cities to celebrate New Year’s Eve in South America.

1. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio during sunset

No list of Best Cities to Celebrate New Year’s would be complete without including Rio de Janeiro, this is a city known for having the best parties in South America. From the annual Carnival to hosting the World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics – Rio de Janeiro knows how to celebrate. During New Year’s, Rio is dotted with locals and tourists as they take to the waterfront and the streets to celebrate. Along the waterfront, enjoy live music and concerts featuring traditional Brazilian music. Along Avenida Atlântica, dance and sip on sweet caipirinhas or champagne while ringing in the New Year.

The busiest place is usually in front of the Copacabana Palace Hotel since that is where there is a stage set up and the concerts take place. There are also other stages set up on different Brazil beaches, such as Leme and Ipanema. People start gathering in the late afternoon, and the celebrations officially begin at 8 pm and can last until the sun rises the next day. When the clock strikes midnight, the firework show illuminates the sky and lights up the harbor.

If you choose to visit Rio de Janeiro for one of the world’s leading events, we recommend staying in a hotel near Copacabana beach. Sit and relax on the balcony of your hotel room and enjoy unobstructed views of the firework show.

New Year’s Eve Traditions in Brazil

Brazilians are big on tradition. You’ll need to follow the proper dress code and wear white on New Year’s Eve. Wearing white will bring you luck and peace in the upcoming year. Other party-goers will add some accent colors to their outfit to get different kinds of luck, red is for romance, yellow is for money, green is for good health, and purple is for inspiration. Throw in a few other colors with your outfit, but stay away from wearing black. Black means you will be doomed throughout the upcoming year. Locals also bring flowers to the sea and toss them into the ocean, paying tribute to Lemanja, the goddess of the waters.

Read more about our Brazil Vacation Packages, which can be combined with other sample itineraries, for one memorable Rio New Year’s Eve in South America. We also have our Rio New Year & Brazil Gold Route Tour, which perfectly incorporates the best of New Year celebrations in Brazil.

2. Punta del Este, Uruguay

aerial over punta and waterfront during sunset

Punta del Este is Uruguay’s most important beach resort and is among one of the best places to spend New Year’s for people from Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil. If you’re looking for fewer crowds than Rio, but still want a fabulous party, this is the place for you.

Punta del Este sits on a peninsula surrounded by beach and the Atlantic Ocean, making it one of the few places in South America’s Atlantic coast where you can watch the sun setting over the ocean, a perfect start of the evening on New Year’s Eve.

This is a glamorous and glitzy destination, perfect for tourists that enjoy traveling in luxury and style. There are plenty of things to do in Punta del Este, including exclusive parties, from thousands of people gathering to dance to the world’s most famous DJs, to smaller dinner parties in boutique hotels and restaurants. We usually recommend booking in advance, since parties and hotel rooms get booked months in advance, due to how popular this destination is during New Year.

If you want a more relaxing New Year’s celebration, sit at the beach, watch the sunset and at midnight, enjoy a fabulous firework display. Also, most Punta Del Este hotels will offer an especial New Years’ Eve dinner, usually mandatory for all guests.

New Year’s Eve Traditions in Uruguay

Uruguayan’s ring in the New Year by exchanging gifts and having a feast with their family and loved ones. Enjoy delicious lamb, pork, beef, and chicken, along with cakes, pastries, puddings, and a variety of salads. We recommend partaking in a little bit of everything while in Uruguay – sit back and relax at your luxurious hotel, enjoy an excellent meal and head out for a night of dancing at one of the nightclubs in town and celebrate the New Year in style. Read more about our Punta del Este and Uruguay Tours.

3. Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires downtown

If you’re looking for something a bit more relaxed, Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires is the place to be. Although most local people choose to spend New Years’ Eve at home gatherings with family members, there are also a large number of good restaurants and hotels that offer dinner parties and private celebrations, available for hotel guests as well as locals. If you are a music enthusiast, many Tango venues offer special events during New Year’s Eve, combining a great Argentine meal and some of the city’s best dancers and musicians.

For those interested in partying late at night, there are many private and public parties throughout the city after midnight, and some street celebrations in the Palermo and Recoleta neighborhoods, where most bars and nightclubs stay open till the break of dawn.

It is also customary for Argentines to light fireworks in every house and street corner, so if you’d like to see that, head to your hotel’s rooftop or the Puerto Madero area, where the best firework shows will be held.

New Year’s Eve Traditions in Argentina

If you’re celebrating the New Year in Buenos Aires, I hope you received a pair of pink underwear for Christmas. Tradition has it; you must wear a pair of gifted pink underwear to bring you good luck in the upcoming year. Also, pick up a traditional Pan Dulce from one of the many bakeries (PanaderíA) in the city. This is a typical sweet bread with different dry fruits.

Read more about our Argentina Tours and plan your New Year’s celebration in Buenos Aires.

4. Cartagena, Colombia

View of colonial fort and city in background in Cartagena

New Year’s is a time where Colombians and international travelers flock to the cobble stoned-picturesque streets of Cartagena. Enjoy the Caribbean breeze, visit with friendly Colombians, relax at the beach, eat delicious food, and take in the classic Colombian salsa tunes – this makes for an unforgettable New Year’s celebration.

The weather in Colombia is perfect for celebrating outside, and local people set up tables and chairs and occupy the streets with their loved ones. The main street celebrations occur at the Parque de la Marina and Muelle de Los Pegasos, where you can enjoy a firework show over the water.

We recommend staying within Cartagena’s historic center (and booking well in advance as they get fully booked). Most hotels throw fantastic parties for their guests and offer optimal viewing for the firework show. After midnight, make sure to visit one of the nightclubs in town to break a move until dawn.

New Year’s Eve Traditions in Colombia

On New Year’s day, be sure to grab your suitcase and run around the block as fast as possible. This may be a silly tradition, but it ensures you will travel in the upcoming year. So pack your bags and head to Cartagena for an unforgettable New Year’s celebration. Read more about our Cartagena and Colombia Tours.

5. Valparaíso, Chile

scenic city street and balconies in valpo

Just two hours from Santiago, we find the picturesque city of Valparaíso, a beautiful UNESCO site in Chile. This historic port town is one of the most visited places in central Chile. The perfect place for a couple of nights stay all year round, but most specifically during New Years’, as Valparaíso is said to have the biggest New Year’s Eve firework show in Latin America. This is a 20-minute show along the harbor with fireworks launching up the coast from Valparaíso to Vina del Mar (Chile’s biggest and most popular beach resort).

The festivities start on the 28th of December, about 1 million tourists and Chileans flock to the beach to ring in the New Year. Enjoy live music, wander through the streets filled with confetti, sip on a pisco sour, and admire the dedication they have for New Year’s Eve.

As with the rest of the destinations listed here, we recommend booking your accommodation in advance. Most preferably a hotel with an outdoor space that would give you panoramic views of the harbor, perfect for watching the firework show.

New Year’s Eve Traditions in Chile

If you find yourself in Valparaíso for New Year’s, be sure to wear yellow underwear and put a 1,000 peso bill in your shoe to bring good luck in the upcoming year. Read more about our Valparaíso and Chile Tours.

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Last updated on October 16th, 2020 at 01:54 pm

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