Places to see in the New Year
Along the course of their extensive travels, many of our staff have celebrated New Year in all sorts of exotic spots, some well-known and some much more remote. When we asked them to look back on their New Year's Eves in Latin America, responses varied from "I was in Recifé, Brazil – it's all a bit of a blur!" to "I spent one New Year in a very small Colombian village, so not a lot happened other than a power cut!" – but amongst them five places really stood out. Here's our list of where to be when the clock strikes midnight...
Buenos Aires, Argentina
"More than 100 years after Buenos Aires opened its doors to “all those who want to settle on Argentinean soil regardless of religion, race or nationality”, the immigrant mentality of hope for a better tomorrow still prevails, and not surprisingly its expression reaches a climax at midnight every 31st December. As with much of the city's appeal – this is a place perhaps best experienced by simply wandering and seeing what you find – there is not really a specific focus, such as the display of fireworks on London's South Bank or in Copacabana in Rio. Instead many parties all over the city happen simultaneously and the streets are packed with people dancing and celebrating. It is one of those events that cannot be described, only experienced."
Diego Vigliani, Former JLA staff
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
"If Rio Carnival is the world’s biggest party... then New Year’s Eve in Rio must be the world’s second-biggest party! By 4pm Copacabana is completely closed off to traffic as crowds of Brazilians and tourists alike descend on Copacabana beach to celebrate the New Year together. In true Brazilian fashion expect plenty of samba dancing, caipirinha cocktails and ice-cold beers. The anticipation reaches a crescendo at midnight as an almighty explosion of fireworks fills the sky with colour – certainly the most spectacular display that I have ever seen. The atmosphere is so electric, you probably won’t make it home before dawn. Oh, and just as an aside for the superstitious: Brazilians say if you wear pink knickers on 31 December, the following year you are bound to find love. If you’ve already found your soul mate, then try yellow to boost your chances of winning the lottery!"
Laura Rendell-Dunn, Marketing Executive
"I spent one memorable New Year's Eve in Salvador da Bahia. The beautiful cobbled streets of the old town were completely abuzz, with everyone dressed in white. After fresh fruit cocktails in the square seemingly the entire city headed down to the beach for a live concert before running, fully clothed, into the sea to jump over seven waves at midnight! This is a ritual of worship to the goddess of the sea that spans the length of Brazil, but in this, the most African of all Brazil's states, it is at its most spiritual – Bahia is the home of a fusion of West African and Catholic beliefs that is known as Candomblé. Sea goddess Iemanjá is the great mother of the Candomblé gods or Orixás, and Brazilians throw flowers into the ocean and give offerings of perfume, mirrors and jewelry as they make wishes for the year to come. Colleagues have seen in the New Year in many other parts of Brazil too, and I've never heard anything less than a rapturous review – this really is a country that knows how to party!"
Caroline Maber, Travel Consultant, Tailor-made Holidays
I was fortunate enough to be on Tierra del Fuego (the very furthest part of South America – esssentially the last outpost before Antarctica) for a couple of New Year's Eves. Ushuaia sits on the beautiful Beagle Channel, with the mountains of Cape Horn beyond, and is the most southerly city in the world. As such, when the clocks strike midnight, it is only just getting dark and the stars are just beginning to peek out above the channel. There is normally a large gathering down by the docks, lots of drinking and partying and general New Year’s merriment, Argentinean style! It's a fantastic street party but what really distinguishes New Year here at the ends of the Earth has to be that absolutely jaw-dropping setting."
"Valparaiso is my favourite place in Chile at any time, but to say it comes into its own on New Year's Eve is an understatement. The atmosphere in the streets is amazing – one big loud party in fantastic spirits, straggling its way up the atmospheric hills of this bohemian port town to see the fireworks explode overhead. They go off right over the sea, illuminating the whole bay, and you feel as if you’re in some kind of movie or even a fairy tale. It’s beautiful. This is the ultimate Chilean New Year's party, even attracting local dignitaries (and the president I think – but don't quote me on that, I had had quite a lot to drink!)."
Mary Anne Nelson, Travel Consultant, Tailor-made Holidays
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Real Latin America Experts
Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Consultant
Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.
Jamie Swan - Travel Consultant
Jamie backpacked across Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and Brazil before joining us; he has a degree in politics and is also a keen sportsman..
Lina Fuller - Travel Consultant
Lina's passion for the continent where she was born really took off when she moved to Córdoba to study, spending the holidays travelling between Argentina and her native Colombia.
Chris Rendell-Dunn - Travel Consultant
Anglo-Peruvian Chris grew up in Lima and spent much of his adult life in between London and Cusco as a tour leader, before settling permanently in our Sales team.
Carrie Gallagher - Travel Consultant
A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Escorted Groups team.
Hannah Donaldson - Travel Consultant
Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is an invaluable part of our Group Tours team.