A spectacular countdown: New Year’s Eve delight on Copacabana Beach

November 24, 2023
New Year's Eve in Copabana, Rio. Photo: Fernando Maia / Prefeitura do Rio

Experience the vibrant traditions and spectacular fireworks of New Year’s Eve in Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro

Visiting Rio de Janeiro is always a fantastic experience, but there are certain times of the year when the city truly comes alive, and its locals, known as cariocas, unleash their festive spirit. One such occasion is New Year’s Eve, or “Réveillon” as it’s called in Brazil, when Rio becomes synonymous with an extraordinary celebration and a dazzling fireworks display, rivaled only by the famous Brazilian Carnaval.

Traditionally, Brazilians mark this special night by wearing all-white and even newly purchased/never worn clothing. It portrays the welcoming of the New Year with the hopes for peace and prosperity. Many also engage in symbolic acts like cleansing themselves in the ocean and tossing a few humble gifts, such as flowers, perfumes, jewelry, and candles to Iemanjá, the mother of the waters for Afro-Brazilian religions like Candomblé and Umbanda.

The epicenter of New Year’s Eve celebrations in Rio is Copacabana Beach, renowned for its massive fireworks display at midnight. While smaller festivities occur on Ipanema, Barra, and Flamengo beaches, Copacabana steals the spotlight. In the past, fireworks were launched from the beach, adding a unique touch, but due to a past incident, they are now launched from barges in the ocean.

The show begins right at midnight, with colorful and loud fireworks set off from barges that are anchored in front of Copacabana Beach. They last for over 15 minutes non-stop, and it’s a jaw-dropping moment for all spectators.

Where to watch the fireworks

For those looking to partake in the festivities, options abound. You can join the crowd on the beach, reveling in the warmth and chaos of millions of people — but be cautious of pickpockets!

Alternatively, securing a room with an ocean view at a beachfront hotel allows you to enjoy the spectacle in comfort, with the option to order room service for a special dinner. Renting an apartment with an ocean view is also possible, but rates can be steep during this peak season.

For a more curated experience, some beachfront hotels host special New Year’s Eve events and offer packages that include both accommodation and party tickets. Options include the Copacabana Palace, Fasano, Sofitel, Hotel Pestana, Fairmont, Excelsior, and Selina. Those interested in attending these parties without staying at the hotel should make reservations well in advance.

Considering the logistical challenges of transportation post-midnight, planning ahead is crucial. Public transportation and taxis become scarce and chaotic, so arranging for a taxi in advance or staying within walking distance of the festivities can alleviate the hassle.

Whether you choose to immerse yourself in the vibrant chaos on Copacabana Beach or opt for a more exclusive celebration at a beachfront hotel, celebrating New Year’s Eve in Rio de Janeiro promises an unforgettable experience filled with tradition, spectacle, and the infectious energy of carioca celebrations.

Tatiana Cesso

As a journalist, I've made it my mission to explore and share stories that inspire, inform, and entertain. You may have stumbled upon my work in esteemed publications such as InStyle, Marie Claire, Bazaar, L’Officiel, and Vogue, among others. Having called the U.S. home since 2010, I've lived in Chicago, LA, and currently, Miami. But my heart always beats to the rhythm of Brazil. It's where I was born and raised, and my love for its culture, people, and energy knows no bounds. To share this passion, I've founded Brazilcore, a platform aimed at bridging the gap between Brazil and English speakers worldwide.

Don't Miss

tragedy rio grande do sul brazil

How to help the victims of Rio Grande do Sul flooding from outside Brazil

Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, is facing its worst flood

Amazon trip: mom and daughter cultural trip through the Amazon rainforest

From Miami, Anastasia Espinosa shares stories about her fascinating cultural

Brazil’s Documentary ‘Me’ Reveals a Personal Journey of Overcoming Mental Obstacles

Produced by Rio's music star Anitta, the film follows her