What to do to celebrate New Year’s Eve in South America


Saying goodbye to the year in any country in South America is a ritual that begins the first days of December and almost ends in February. From day 1 of the last month of the year you can feel the festive atmosphere and until February 2nd there will be people locked in the “Happy New Years hug” even after the first month has already passed. The traditions of each country are as diverse and peculiar as its people, but there is a common denominator that synthesizes the spirit of these days: partying and more partying, until dawn. Get excited about the energy and discover what to do to celebrate New Year’s Eve in South America.

Dance samba in Copacabana

RíoSpending the New Year in Copacabana is an experience that you have to live once in your life / Source

When it comes to choosing the best destinations in the world to spend New Year’s Eve, Rio de Janeiro always appears among the top spots on the lists. Copacabana is the epicenter of the great party on December 31st; its extensive beach with all its energy receives the Cariocas and foreigners dressed in white and with offerings in their hands to honor Yemanjá, the goddess of the sea of the orishas.

Many New Year’s Eve parties are usually organized in Copacabana, such as the Bukowski bar and in Lagoa, but what you definitely have to do, at least once in your life, is to join the two million souls that come out to the sea to watch the fireworks, dance a lot of samba and have fun until dawn.

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Enjoy a tango show in Buenos Aires

Buenos AiresNew Year’s Eve tango shows in Buenos Aires do not disappoint viewers / Photo by Daytours4u

Another South American classic to celebrate New Year’s Eve is the dazzling tango shows in Buenos Aires. These shows are planned well in advance and always culminate a full house for events that contemplate all aspects of logistics so that the assistant does not have to worry about anything: transfers included, an exquisite dinner, tango show, dance floor, fireworks and champagne for the toast.

Travel Tip: Another option in Buenos Aires are the exclusive dinners in first class restaurants such as the New Year’s Eve Dinner in Puerto Madero, ideal to attend with the whole family. The younger crowd will find private parties in Palermo, Recoleta and the Costanera Norte and those who decide on a more relaxed party, for free and held outdoors can go to Puerto Madero where, in recent years, a fun celebration with music and beer is put on.

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Going to party in Punta del Este

Punta del EstePunta del Este is the ideal destination for youngsters celebrating New Year’s Eve / Source: Flurmagazine

The New Year’s Eve parties in Punta del Este, Uruguay, have become very popular. They are already an important representation of the continent and it is common to see listings in other parts of the world that include them. One of the most emblematic is BOX in Punta del Este, which starts right at 11:55 pm and is the favorite among the young crowd especially for its bar that’s open all night. For its part, the most classic is the party at Moby Dick -one of the most important bars in the city- which includes dinner and starts at 9:00 p.m.

Travelers who prefer something less ostentatious will find along the coastline the locals with their beach chairs heading out to the shore to enjoy the fireworks show after midnight and taking advantage of the music from the nightclubs and restaurants in the surrounding area. Dance for free until the sun comes up.

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Watch the sky of Valparaíso for 25 minutes

ValparaísoThe fireworks show in Valparaíso is the second longest in South America / Source

“That’s how you’ll end up, Mr. Bell, If you let yourself love a wild thing. You’ll end up looking at the sky.” These words from the beautiful Holly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Truman Capote) describes how visitors and natives of Valparaiso, Chile, spend the night of December 31, but not exactly because they give their hearts to wild beings, but because of the spectacular display of fireworks that lasts approximately 25 minutes, the second longest in South America, after Rio de Janeiro.

Starting at 6:00 p.m. the people come to Plaza Sotomayor to see the show over the Pacific Ocean. There are travelers who rent apartments with balconies to witness the show with family and others book romantic dinners on yachts to enjoy the show from the sea. Fireworks are seen in both Valparaíso and Viña del Mar, so if you are in these cities, you can also enjoy the show.

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Burn the old year in Cartagena

ColombiaThe dolls that are burned for the New Year usually represent political characters / Photo: Juan Pablo Rueda, El Tiempo

One of the most fun things to do in Cartagena on the last night of the year is to burn the old year with the locals. The creativity of Cartagena is reflected in perfectly designed dolls that allude to national and international personalities, generally associated with politics. Presidents, ministers, mayors and other characters are made with rags and easily combusted materials that are burned on December 31st at night.

This is one of the ways to celebrate New Years in Colombia and in other countries in South America such as Venezuela, so travelers will find dozens of dolls to be burned in Cali, Medellín, Barranquilla and other cities. Particularly in Cartagena it is worth watching this show and then heading over to the walled city to enjoy the party that fires up at midnight, where strangers become family in seconds.

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To take into account

– The large hotel and restaurant chains of these cities usually organize dinners and exclusive parties for New Year’s Eve celebrations. If you wish to select this option, it is important to make the reservation in advance to guarantee your spot.

– With the exception of dinners and tango shows in Buenos Aires, the travel agencies and operators of tours and activities in the countries mentioned tend to provide their services until December 31 at noon and resume their activity on January 2nd. In the case that you want to book excursions for those dates, verify availability in advance.

By: Keilma Rojas, Venezuelan journalist, specialized in culture and actuality. Editor in Spanish for Daytours4u