Christmas is here, and it's time to wrap up your New Year plans. Read on for our top destinations to ring in 2008.

Frolic with the fairies in Reykjavík

Bonfires, northern lights, steaming drinks, fireworks and little folk: there's an additional magic in the air on New Year's Eve (Gamlarskrold) in Iceland. Trolls, fairies and elves are said to join revellers in their celebrations around chains of communal bonfires. Folk songs are sung, candles are waved and at midnight the skies explode in firework displays (the best being in Reykjavík). The subsequent dancing and partying lasts until sunrise - which in Iceland's midwinter is about midday! 

With luck, fireworks won't be the only aerial illuminations: Iceland's upper latitudes are ideal for viewing the aurora borealis (northern lights) from October to March.

To find out more, contact the Icelandic Tourist Board (website:

World's biggest firework blitz, Madeira

Size matters - especially when it comes to firework displays. Nations compete to claim the largest, the longest and the most spectacular lightshows in the world at New Year. And on 1 January 2007 it became official: Funchal's annual fireworks show was confirmed as the world's biggest. 

Each year the capital's bay transforms into a fiery crucible with white lights sugaring the hillsides, 250,000 electric lights colouring the waterside and over 600,000 fireworks fizzing through the air when the clock strikes 12. The semicircular bay is naturally shaped like an amphitheatre, so everybody is guaranteed a superb view. 

Madeira Islands Tourism (website: can provide information on travel and accommodation.

Reach 2008 first in the Chatham Islands

If you've had your fill of fireworks, more mulled wine than you care to admit and simply can't face another crowded celebration, how about shunning the usual parties and heading for the isolated and sparsely populated Chatham Islands, 1,000km (621 miles) east of New Zealand. Why here? This Pacific Ocean chain lays claim to Kahuitara Point on Pitt Island - the world's first populated place to see the sun rise on 2008.  

The Chathams are home to just 600 islanders, leaving the long sandy beaches and gently rolling scenery largely empty of people. They have excellent fishing, hearty food and unique wildlife, making this destination the perfect antidote to New Year's party fatigue.

You can read more online at Chatham Islands Tourism (website: or

Party on the beach in Rio

Who says you have to be cold to celebrate New Year? Why not join the hoards of revellers that pile onto Rio's balmy Copacabana Beach to samba in the sand. An incredible 2 million white-clad Brazilians amass here annually in a party second only to carnival in scale; it sees live music from some of Brazil's top bands, a huge offshore fireworks display and celebrations that last until dawn.

Wear white for luck and peace, but don't don your best: sparking wine is shaken in all directions at midnight. White flowers are also cast into the sea.

More information can be found at the Brazil Tourism Office (website:

Waltz into 2008 in Vienna

Can there be a more elegant way to see in the New Year than this? When Austria's clocks reach 12, the Blue Danube Waltz strikes up, and a nation swishes and glides its way into New Year's Day. At the heart of the celebrations is Vienna's centuries-old New Year's Imperial Ball, which sees rustling white ball gowns and sleek black jackets whirl amid the imperial majesty of the Hapsburg Empire of old accompanied by the finest musicians in the country.

But if you can't secure tickets to the ball, Vienna is awash with other concerts and events.  On 31 December, street celebrations start in the early afternoon with music, sparkling wine, food and fireworks along a New Year trail.

There is more information online courtesy of the Vienna Tourist Board (website:

Have a ball in New York

You've watched with the world as the famous Times Square Ball Drop (website: takes place on the stroke of midnight. Now you want to experience the dazzling lights and brimming energy of the New York celebrations first hand. But you needn't pitch your spot for a four- or five-hour freezing wait below if you plan ahead; you can witness the festivities from up high by booking a place in the surrounding buildings. These include Novotel New York Hotel and the Marriott Hotel - which even has the city's only revolving restaurant if the celebrations don't leave you giddy enough.

Alternatively, join thousands of New Yorkers for the fireworks display above Central Park or book a spot on the Annual Brooklyn Bridge Walk (website: and reach the top in time to see fireworks in five boroughs.

You can find more ideas and information online (website:

The best of the rest

We've cherry picked our favourite New Year destinations, but there are plenty more unforgettable parties to join in around the globe. Why not witness the spectacular Sydney Harbour Bridge fireworks display up close on a dinner and drinks cruise? Or step into a winter wonderland where the waterways freeze and the glorious museums stay open in St Petersburg? Alternatively, wrap up warm, join the street party and bellow Auld Lang Syne in Edinburgh's famous Hogmanay celebrations.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.