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New Year's Eve rocks Rio

New Year's Eve rocks Rio

Ring in 2017 at one of the world’s most thrilling parties: at Belmond Copacabana Palace beside Rio’s pulsating Copacabana Beach. Popping corks and a samba school parade herald fireworks at midnight and DJ sets beside the glamorous art deco pool.

All along Copacabana Beach, families and friends dressed in white gather by the ocean’s edge. Their numbers swell until the crowd merges into a single wave that surges back towards Belmond Copacabana Palace hotel. On the stroke of midnight, the starry sky erupts with fireworks, a dazzling display that inspires enormous collective gasps. Then, one by one, revellers cast flowers into the rolling waters in homage to Iemanjá, Goddess of the Sea. Hopping over the waves three times, they make wishes for the year to come.

At the heart of the action

Belmond Copacabana Palace

Belmond Copacabana Palace

New Year’s Eve in Rio de Janeiro, alive with tradition, is a truly remarkable occasion. Watching it unfold from the secluded intimacy of Belmond Copacabana Palace’s belle epoque balcony is what Rio party enthusiast Helena Jaudy describes as “a once-in-a-lifetime experience”—but one that she plunges into year after year. As she says “People fly in from all over the world to celebrate here, there’s a glamour that only the Copa has”. Much of the magic lies in the hotel’s unparalleled location. Set close by the golden sands, it overlooks the main event stage, enabling guests to watch international superstars and Brazil’s best samba bands from their own private VIP area. So close is the hotel to all the action that when the Rolling Stones gave their legendary show in 2006, Mick and the band descended from their penthouse suites direct to the stage from a custom-built bridge.

Step back in time

Then there’s the glorious sense of heritage that endures from Rio’s Roaring Twenties. Ever since the hotel opened in 1923 artists and starlets such as Fred Astaire and Frank Sinatra through to Gina Lollobrigida and Brigitte Bardot, have flown in and been swept up in its tropical fantasy.

Yet what keeps Rio’s well-heeled locals returning time and again to celebrate Reveillón is that no one knows how to throw a party quite like this palace by the sea. There’s a sense of stepping back in time, a fairytale frisson, as you walk the red carpet and climb the gleaming marble staircase to white-coated waiters serving champagne on the terrace.

Celebrate through to sunrise

While friends old and new dine on the extravagant cuisine arrayed in the hotel’s restaurants and grand salons, guests gather on the balcony ready to watch the midnight fireworks explode. It’s then that the evening really finds its swing, infectious energy ignited by a samba school—all trumpets, tassels and shimmering tail-feathers—that leads the party-goers into the Golden Room, arrayed with gigantic floral displays glimmering in the light of thousands of candles. A knockout live band keeps everyone dancing until the sun rises over the Sugar Loaf.

Meanwhile, down by the pool, a DJ spins sets for guests of the hotel’s three restaurants in a waterside celebration. ‘There’s a feeling of total happiness”, says Helena Jaudy, who met her husband at the hotel’s equally exuberant Carnival Ball. ‘The atmosphere is like a private party, where friendships are born. I say to all my friends, there’s nothing quite like it. It’s something you have to experience.”

This year’s New Year’s Eve celebrations at Belmond Copacabana Palace continue the decades-old tradition and spirit that make it such an exceptional occasion. A Gala Ball with a buffet dinner takes over the Noble, Golden and Reception Rooms; the Pérgula Restaurant hosts an international buffet; Ristorante Hotel Cipriani presents a six-course dinner and MEE Pan-Asian restaurant serves an exceptional tasting menu. All fizz into action from 8pm and continue into the small hours, with the firework display viewable from one of the hotel’s balconies. Great entertainment comes courtesy of the Haroldo Costa samba school and SP3 band. Dress in white and get set to party!

by Lauren Holmes