New years on Copacabana beach in Rio – it was one of the first thoughts we had when we decided South America was going to be our home for the next year. After spending last years NYE in Sydney watching the fire works on the Sydney Harbour Bridge from a party boat it seemed like the only way to top last year!
We decided to get into Rio a few days prior so we could organise ourselves. You see, New years in Rio has a few traditions and the main one being that the colour of your clothes mean different things. Generally people wear all white and use the colour of their under wear to welcome the new year with their wish of choice (red meaning love, green is health, yellow is money, pink is sex, blue is tranquility). As you can imagine this time of year in Rio is extremely busy. The streets are always full of people drinking, laughing, and letting fireworks off in the street. The vibe is crazy! Every shop is full of people getting all of their supplies for the big day and street vendors yelling out at tourists trying to get sale, it really is insane from the moment you leave the hostel. We spent nearly two hours in line at the supermarket on December 30, however the people watching from the line was very amusing and was a cultural experience on it’s own.
There are a few different ways you can enjoy the last day of the year at Copacabana; the cheapest and best way in my opinion is to get a sick group of people together, an esky (cooler, which you can buy for about $10 at a supermarket), plenty of beer, a bag of ice (can be bought at Copacabana beach), and find a good spot on the beach to let loose. Oh and don’t worry if you’re in a small group as the beach is full of friendly people wanting to meet people from all over the world. Brazilians (especially those who are from Rio) are very proud to have the biggest new years celebration in the world and don’t mind you telling them you agree.
We were lucky enough to meet a great bunch of people who all wanted to enjoy the last day of the year the same way we did. One of our new friends was Liam, who is also from Perth and we share mutual friends – what a small world!
Getting to the beach was easy, although carrying everything to the train station was quite the challenge. The metro runs all night on NYE, but you must remember to buy the metro ticket in advance as they do not sell tickets on the day. The only way to get on the train is to cram in like sardines and from the moment we were on we knew the night was going to be good. This train was no ordinary trian, it was a party train where everyone was singing and chanting with smiles ear to ear which it was a great way to start the night!
The beach itself was full of people of all ages from families to young groups and everywhere you looked people where selling food, drinks, and NYE merchandise. We found a spot close to the water in the middle of Copacabana beach and set our stuff down. One of the first things we did was jump in the ocean to cool down. if you don’t do this at the start of the night its likely you will sometime in the night to cool off or just to go to the toilet (public toilet lines are hours long and disgustingly dirty.) We spent the next few hours playing drinking games, meeting locals, and having drunk swims in the ocean. When it hit 12 and we stood together and watched the awesome fire works display. It was amazing and was one of the best fire works shows I’ve seen! The show lasted 40 minutes and after everyone cheered and hugged welcoming in the new year.
The rest of the night was kind of blurry and getting home was a miracle but Rio lived up to its’ reputation. It’s the best new years eve celebration I’ve been to and I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys something a little crazy!!!