If fireworks, street parties and staying up until way past normal bedtime are your thing – it is one of the best nights in the diary.
But if New Year’s Eve is something that you always relish, why limit yourself to just a single annual dose of it?
Thanks to the peculiarities of boundaries and borders, it is wholly possible to witness the birth of the same bouncing 365-day baby more than once.
And if you fancy seeing 2020 open its eyes twice, these are the locations where you can enjoy a December 31 of merry “time travel”.
New Zealand and the Cook Islands
Cook Islands. Photo: Cook Islands Tourism
New Zealand is one of the first countries to witness the New Year. But the Cook Islands, which come under Wellington’s jurisdiction, are among the last parts of the planet to hear this decisive ticking of the clock – sitting in the South Pacific on the opposite side of the International Date Line.
The joy is that the flight time between the two places is just four hours. So you can spend December 31 in Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city (try the five-star Sky City Grand; skycityauckland.co.nz) and, after enjoying the evening, and the appearance of 2020, you can head to the airport in time to catch the 8:55am Air New Zealand (airnewzealand.co.uk) flight to Rarotonga. This lands at 1:45pm – on December 31. A quick drive around what is the biggest of the Cook Islands will have you at the Edgewater Resort & Spa (edgewater.co.ck), on the north-west coast, in time for sunset cocktails on the beach – and the chance to welcome 2020 all over again.
Sweden and Finland
The bridge to Finland in Karesuando, Sweden’s northernmost town on the border with Finland. Photo: iStock
Europe is riddled with meandering time boundaries. One of them runs along the border between Sweden and Finland – meaning that the two halves of one particular town in Lapland live an hour apart from each other.
Known as Karesuando on the Swedish side of the national line, and Karesuvanto on the other, this frosted outpost is a special – if cold – place to greet the New Year in duplicate. Finland is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, Sweden only one – meaning that visitors can say hello to 2020 on the east bank of the River Muonio, then stroll across the bridge into Sweden to relive the last hour of 2019 for a second time.
The Davvi Arctic Lodge is a cosy accommodation option in (Finnish) Karesuvanto.
Spain and Portugal
The border between the two Iberian siblings is another of Europe’s clock-tick lines in the sand. It is at its most accessible where the Spanish region of Extremadura abuts the Portuguese Alentejo.
The small city of Badajoz, in the former, is one of Spain’s hidden gems. Tucked 140 miles north-west of Seville, it has long been defined by its proximity to the neighbours – its 13th-century cathedral resembles a fortress as much as a church.
Not that old tensions matter on New Year’s Eve. Portugal, which operates an hour behind Spain, waits just beyond the west edge of town. You can say hello to 2020 in Badajoz’s Plaza Espana, then grab a taxi for the nine-mile, 20-minute journey west, across the River Guadiana and onto Portuguese soil – where you can repeat the merriment on Praca da Republica in the pretty town of Elvas. The four-star Hotel Zurbaran (granhotelzurbaranbadajoz.com), in Badajoz, is a decent option.
Apalachicola Photo: iStock
One of the globe’s most idiosyncratic time boundaries is the division between Eastern Standard Time (EST) and Central Standard Time (CST) where it slices through the north-west of Florida – cutting off the far corner of this holiday haven from the rest of the state.
This can make for New Year adventures within earshot of the sea. The clapboard town of Apalachicola, in Franklin County, is in the Eastern Time Zone. Whereas Port St Joe, the next town over, in Gulf County – a 23-mile, 25-minute drive west – is in the Central Time Zone. A New Year’s Eve on the beach in the former can finish with a one-hour repeat in the latter, and you can enjoy a little winter sun as part of the deal.
Try Coombs House Inn (coombshouseinn.com), a four-star hotel in Apalachicola.
Nevada and California
For truly intrepid chasers of the New Year, the ragged state line between Arizona, which lives under Mountain Standard Time (MST), and California (an hour back under the rules of Pacific Standard Time; PST) offers an opportunity doubly to salute the dawn of 2020 in a very much off-beat location.
You can say farewell to 2019 in Arizona Village, on the east bank of the Colorado River – then make haste across the water to bid your goodbyes for a second time in the small Californian town of Needles. Here, stay at The Days Inn & Suites (www.wyndhamhotels.com).
See also: Hong Kong cancels New Year’s Eve as visitor numbers plunge
See also: Alcohol at breakfast: 20 things you’ll only ever do holidays