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Where’s the party? New Year’s Eve celebrations around the world

From Sydney’s fireworks extravaganza to London’s all-nighter and Rio’s beach party … Guardian writers on the big bashes and local traditions of New Year’s Eve in cities across the globe

The best known New Year’s Eve attraction in New York City is at Times Square: it’s the “ball drop”. A big, brightly lit sphere is hoisted to the top of a pole and drops as the clock strikes 12. Officially, you can’t drink on the streets in New York. But you might notice people with beer cans in brown paper bags, cocktails secreted in McDonald’s cups and booze in hip flasks. As you can imagine, Times Square gets pretty busy. And touristy. Brooklyn is a good alternative. There are fireworks and live music at Grand Army plaza, at the north end of Prospect Park, from 11pm. But there’s more to do than watch fireworks explode and balls drop. If, like me, you don’t mind being a hipster stereotype, there’s a number of warehouse parties around Brooklyn’s Bushwick and Williamsburg areas. My plan is to go to one until as late as possible. Then, on New Year’s Day, engage in a different type of New York tradition: the Coney Island Polar Bear club New Year’s Day swim. It’s a swim in the Atlantic, first thing in the morning. I think it will be cold.
Adam Gabbatt is a writer-presenter for the Guardian, based in New York

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Great Barrier Reef, Queensland: where to dive, snorkel and stay

As David Attenborough’s new three-part reef documentary begins, here’s our guide to exploring the world’s largest living structure and its Australian coast, from scuba diving trips to rainforest excursions – plus the best places to stay

The Unesco world heritage-listed natural wonder is a ribbon of blinding blues and greens, a constellation of islands and reefs, running parallel with the Queensland shoreline from the tip of Cape York in the north 1,600 miles south to Bundaberg. At the reef’s southernmost end are Lady Elliot and Heron islands, two stars of David Attenborough’s new three-hour documentary (screening at 9pm on 30 December, BBC1); heading north, Airlie Beach, Townsville and Cairns are popular starting points for reef explorations.

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