Clara Barciela here, and believe me, no one puts on a party like us Latinos! The celebrations that take place to ring in the New Year are the biggest on the Latin American calendar (outside Carnival). The festivities are wild and colourful. New Year’s Eve in South America brings not only good times but also a peek into the culture here as in many cases these festivities are really significant to us.
Here is our pick of places to spend New Year’s Eve in South America – Maria and I have rung in the New Year ourselves in many of these places. You can’t beat personal recommendations!
5. Ushuaia, Patagonia (Argentina)
Ringing in the New Year from the End of the World – Ushuaia – is a once-in-a-lifetime-experience. No big parties, no city vibes, just mountains and the happy feeling of being in a place that seems to transcend time. So, what can you expect here on New Year’s Eve?
A really long day as the sun doesn’t set till after 11.30pm and plenty of places to enjoy great food, wine and a country party feel – the locals are really a fabulous bunch to hang out with.
4. Punta del Este, Uruguay
For New Year at its glitzy best, head to Punta de Este, a seaside hamlet of Punta del Este in Uruguay. According to the New York Magazine Punta del Este “vies with Rio for the sexiest seaside playground in South America,” and you can rest assured New Year’s Eve is the absolute biggest party of the season.
The millionaires and glitterati party in the seaside mansions here (invitation-only soirees) while other merry-makers head to the city’s trendy clubs. Fireworks are at the Our Lady of Candelaria harbour. After midnight the crowds quickly disperse from here, headed back to La Barra, which is renowned for its 24-hour casinos, or one of the luxurious hotels in the city that sell out months in advance.
3. Cusco, Peru
It’s not Lima but Cusco where you should be headed when looking for THE place in Peru to ring in the New Year. A few hundred thousand people gather at the city’s main square (Plaza de Armas) to celebrate and the atmosphere in the former Inca capital is positively infectious. The colour of the day is yellow – considered lucky since the day of the Incas by the people of Cusco.
2. Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The Argentinian capital is renowned for its party vibe. You can get a party started here anytime, anywhere. Even though many locals head out Punta del Este or Cartagena at this time of the year, New Year’s Eve in Buenos Aires is stunning and a very relaxed affair.
There are a number of hotels and closed door restaurants that offer themed dinners. Enjoy delicious Latin food, wine and tango (of course!) before heading to party central – Palermo club district. Before midnight slip out of the club and head to nearby Planetario to enjoy the fireworks. If you want to skip party central, head to one of the city’s many vantage points for the fireworks display.
1. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio is said to put on the best New Year’s Eve party in the world, certainly in all of South America. The event called Revellion by locals rivals the Carnival in splendour and atmosphere. As you can expect, the party spills on to the streets of Rio pretty quickly and on the famed golden sands of Copacabana Beach. The fireworks display at Copacabana is the main event, and millions of locals and tourists gather on the beach to watch the midnight show and revel until the early hours of the morning. Many Brazilians light candles for the Afro-American goddess of the sea, Yemanja, and place them in the sand, as they make wishes for the coming year. You’ll also probably see more than a handful of people participating in the tradition of jumping seven waves while making seven wishes (this can be fun once people have really started partying).
The party carries on till well beyond the wee hours and before sunrise – but that is something we expect of any good party in South America!
Clara Barciela Co-Founder at Across SouthAmerica