Rio de Janerio Copacabana New Year celebrations used for 30th an

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 at New Year

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


Salvador, Brazil

"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


Ushuaia, Argentina

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, Chile

"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 american experts

  • Maggie
    Maggie Wilson - Travel Expert

    Maggie visited Latin America on her first backpacking trip when she was 19. Since then, she has taken every opportunity to travel, and has managed to explore a lot of the region in subsequent trips.

  • Kathryn
    Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Expert

    Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.

  • Sophie
    Sophie Barber - Travel Expert

    Sophie lived in Chile before joining us and has travelled extensively across Latin America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia and beyond to Antarctica.

  • Sallly
    Sally Dodge - Travel Expert

    A former Journey Latin America tour leader, Sally spent 7 years working, travelling and living throughout Latin America before returning to the UK to help people arrange their own adventures to this wonderful destination.

  • Millie
    Millie Davies - Travel Expert

    Having caught the travel bug as a child, Millie has travelled all over Latin America before making her home in Buenos Aires for 3 years.

  • Charlotte
    Charlotte Daubeney - Travel Expert

    Charlotte's fascination with Latin America began with a family holiday to Belize. She went on to study Spanish in school and at university before spending a year living in Santiago, Chile.

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