Once again, Rio de Janeiro is gearing up to host one of the biggest New Year’s Eve parties on the planet. The city’s New Year’s celebrations are second only to carnival in terms of sheer unadulterated revelry, with the focal point of the celebrations being the legendary party on Copacabana beach.
Each year, December 31 sees up to three million people descend on Copacabana Beach, for a night of fun, fireworks and live music. Tradition dictates that revelers heading here should be dressed all in white (in honor of the candomble religion whose white-clad followers leave New Year’s gifts in the sea for Yemanja, the Candomble goddess of the sea) and the shops are already full of white dresses as the city’s image-conscious females start their party preparations early.
Parties are held at other Rio de Janeiro beaches on December 31, but the festivities at Copacabana beach are the biggest, and arguably the best. DJs and live bands entertain the masses (this year, as every year, Madonna is rumored to appear and I would hazard a guess that this year, as every year, the rumors will prove to be unfounded) until the strike of midnight, when some seriously spectacular fireworks are set off.
Truly, there can be few better places on Earth to see in the New Year than on Copacabana Beach, among millions of festive locals and tourists, as beautiful fireworks explode overhead. This is the culmination of months of planning and vast spending, with last year’s fireworks at Copacabana lasting for a record 20 minutes.
If you’re thinking of joining in the festivities, now is the time to book accommodation, as rooms get booked up well in advance of the celebrations. Many hotels and hostels will require a minimum three or four night stay and prices shoot up, so be prepared to shop around online to get the best price deals.
It costs nothing to attend the celebrations on the beach, although there is plenty of opportunity to blow cash at the many ticket-only parties taking place at hotels and nightclubs across the city.