Forget Times Square. The best place to celebrate, say goodbye to the old and ring in the new is in the Caribbean, where balmy trade winds and sandy beaches set the tone for a night of celebration like nowhere else. Each island has something going on, but some go bigger than others, and that’s where you want to be. Here are seven of our favorites.
Dropping the Onion in Bermuda
Bermuda is no longer a major exporter of onions, but the island still pays homage to its namesake vegetable on December 31. The celebration starts before dark as thousands gather at King’s Square in the city of St. George’s to enjoy street food and live music. The party builds towards midnight as everyone waits for a lighted papier-mâché replica of an onion to descend, then the fireworks light up the waters of the harbor.
The Ultimate Beach Party on Jost Van Dyke
In the British Virgin Islands, revelers converge on the small island of Jost Van Dyke to join local icon Foxy Calwood at his legendary Old Year’s Eve party. Staged on the shores of Great Bay at Foxy’s Tamarind Bar, the party draws boaters and celebrities alike for a night of dancing on the sand, lobster barbecues, Firewater Rum punches and, for the less inhibited, a plunge into the foam pit. Additional ferries are pressed into service from the islands of St. Thomas and Tortola to handle the arriving crowds.
Grand Cayman with No Resolutions
No need to keep the little ones up late to see the show at Grand Cayman’s Camana Bay complex. The center’s No Resolutions Party kicks off at 6 p.m. on The Crescent, with food, drink; music and early fireworks show at 7 p.m. Once the youngsters are tucked away the dancing and celebrations keep going past 1 a.m., with a second fireworks lighting up the harbor at midnight. Those who would rather get some sand between their toes wander over to Seven Mile Beach, where the Westin Grand Cayman hosts a beach party with bubbly, sand sculptures and island tunes.
Fire on the Water on St. Martin/Sint Maarten
If you love fireworks, the island of St. Martin is the place to be on December 31st. Several clubs along Orient Beach stage parties that spill onto the sand as revelers await a spectacular display of midnight pyrotechnics. Even more popular is the show that takes place above the waters of Great Bay in the Dutch capital of Philipsburg. As dusk falls, the Great Bay Beach Promenade takes on a festival atmosphere with music and food. The fireworks show that is unleashed to herald the New Year is said to be the largest in the Caribbean, and it is certainly the most spectacular.
Night of the Junkanoo in the Bahamas
Counting down and toasting in the New Year are just the beginning of the celebration on the Bahamian island of New Providence. At 2 a.m. on New Year’s Day, the capital of Nassau comes alive with the sounds of drums, bells and whistles as thousands of costumed revelers make their way down Bay Street. The Junkanoo parade continues through the night, ending in mid morning as everyone heads home to sleep it off.
Greeting the Dawn on St. Croix
In the U.S. Virgin Islands, residents of St. Croix turn the entire month of December and the first days of January into one big celebration. In the spirit of keeping the party going, many follow up a harbor side fireworks display in Christiansted on December 31 with a trip to the eastern end of the island, where Point Udall is recognized as the easternmost point of the United States. Here, a crowd of revelers greets the New Year with toasts and dancing that continues until first light.
Jump Up on Montserrat
On the Caribbean’s Emerald Isle, the end-of-the-year party starts on December 23 with the annual Festival, an island-wide celebration of the season that includes pageants, a Calypso King Competition, musical extravaganzas and costumed masqueraders parading in the streets. The Festival continues through New Year’s Eve and on to January 1st, which is known as Jump Up Day. This holiday commemorates island emancipation with parades, steel bands and street dancers.