Free, Family-Friendly New Year’s Eve

Full disclosure — I am not good at holidays. I struggle with the expectations and I am terrible at giving gifts. I’m also not great at receiving them, as I tend to want very little, and am particular about what I do want. Thus, it is with some surprise I find myself giving holiday tips.

I’d like to share our family’s tradition for celebrating New Year’s Eve. It’s pretty simple, but at the same time, I don’t know of other families that do it.

We spend our New Year’s Eve watching celebrations from around the world. The easiest way to do this is to follow a stream from a news service on YouTube. In previous years, Reuters, the AP, Global News (in Canada) and the Telegraph (in the UK) have offered them.

As an example, here’s the 2024 one for Global News:

I like the Global News stream because it tends to have a lot of different places, and (as of 2024) they maintain a list of the locations (updated throughout the day) that they’re going to be showing.

In 2024, for example, they included:

  • 6:00 AM ET: Auckland, New Zealand fireworks show
  • 8:00 AM ET: Sydney, Australia fireworks
  • 11:00 AM ET: Hong Kong light show
  • 12:00 PM ET: Thailand: Chao Phraya River in Bangkok
  • 1:00 PM ET: Various locations across India
  • 1:45 PM ET: Karachi, Pakistan
  • 3:00 PM ET: Dubai’s Burj Khalifa fireworks
  • 4:00 PM ET: Moscow, Russia fireworks
  • 5:00 PM ET: Athens, Greece fireworks
  • 6:00 PM ET: Paris, France light show at Arc de Triomphe
  • 7:00 PM ET: London, England’s fireworks
  • 9:00 PM ET: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil beach fireworks
  • 12:00 AM ET: New York, New York Times Square ball drop

We’re in the Atlantic time zone (an hour later than Eastern) so we start our day with New Zealand, and move around the globe over the course of the day. As we do, one thing we’ll do is explicitly wish “Happy New Years” to folks that we know in the various places. As English language teachers who have taught students from around the world (and lived in a number as well) it’s interesting to see how many connections we have to places.

And if you don’t want to leave the TV on too much, the best ones (in my opinion) are Sydney, Hong Kong, Dubai and London.

In addition, we typically pick one of these country’s cuisines to base our dinner on.

I recognize that none of this is a particularly big deal, but I wanted to share it because it’s a nice way to celebrate with kids, as it both heightens their awareness of global diversity and doesn’t require staying up late. It’s also very easy to do. I share the link in the morning with my grandmother (99 years old and counting) and she’s able to watch along with us.

Advanced Version

It’s possible to find even more country’s celebrations if you find local news feeds, and there are even more available if you get a VPN. For New Year’s Eve 2023, we signed up for Express VPN (which I wholeheartedly recommend) and went to local news feeds for some of the celebrations. This isn’t free, but it can be fun, and can open up further diversity. After our daughter went to bed, we used the VPN to watch Jools’ Annual Hootenanny on the BBC IPlayer and I think we may have started a new (to us) tradition.

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