Best New Year’s Celebrations Around the World (And How to Stay Safe)

It’s only appropriate that we say goodbye to the old and welcome the new in a way that’s universally understood: With tons of parties.

Whether everyone sings Auld Lang Syne, throws flowers into the sea, or watches a ball drop, every culture and city has its own traditions for kicking off the New Year on the right foot writes the

But wherever you choose to celebrate, remember to take extra precaution. With the crowds, festive drinks, and overall excitement of the day, it’s easy to get caught up in the festivities. Be sure to travel with a friend or in a group and stay alert as much as possible. Have a glass or two of champagne to celebrate if you’re of legal drinking age, but remember it’s always safest to stay in control. And of course, book a hotel nearby and don’t hesitate to get a taxi if necessary.

If you’re still not sure what you’ll be dong this New Year’s Eve (or want ideas for next year), here are some of the best celebrations around the world:

Sydney It’s no surprise that one of the first cities in the world to celebrate the New Year would also host a massive celebration filled with an incredible lightshow, fireworks, and pyrotechnic displays over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Attendees can also enjoy entertainment acts such as aerial acrobats and a traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smoking ceremony, which is done to cleanse bad spirits. At the end of the night, the festivities conclude with the Harbour of Light Parade, which features a variety of illuminated boats throughout the harbour.

Hong Kong Hong Kong is the home of an incredible fireworks display and pyrotechnic lightshow. At Hong Kong’s Time Square (yes, there are two of them!),  you’ll also enjoy a taste of New York City’s famous celebration; the city also hosts a ball drop ceremony similar to the one in New York. Or, visit the Victoria Harbour and watch the countdown displayed in the sky, followed by a fireworks finale.

Cape Town While there are plenty of New Year’s Eve festivals and events to take part in, the real party in South Africa begins on New Year’s Day with Kaapse Klopse, the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival. Watch parades, performances of traditional dancers, musicians, and locals dressed up as minstrels as you celebrate a tradition that dates back to the 19th century.

Vienna Visit the charming city’s famous Christmas markets and join thousands in watching the fireworks at the Wiener Prater fun fair. Vienna is also a great place to go if you’re looking for a classy celebration; you can attend glamorous balls, galas, and concerts such as the “Grand Ball” at Hofburg Palace.

London Over 250,000 people head to the area surrounding River Thames to view the night’s events, which includes a 10-minute lightshow, fireworks, and a countdown that concludes with Big Ben striking midnight. On New Year’s Day, watch the parade in central London, which includes floats, marching bands, and even an appearance by the Queen’s horses.

Edinburgh In Scotland, an evening and a day aren’t enough to ring in the New Year. Instead, Edinburgh hosts Hogmany, which is a four-day long festival of events. Thousands of people attend the festival, which includes a traditional Celtic party, live music, and other performances on stages throughout the city. The event culminates with a pyrotechnic show at midnight on New Year’s as everyone sings Auld Lang Syne, a classic Scottish song.

New York City The Big Apple is an iconic New Year’s Eve destination, bringing in millions of people around the world to watch the ball drop—a tradition that’s been around since the early 1900s. But there’s more than just that—visitors can also enjoy celebrity performances, a lightshow, fireworks, and other festivities. But if you’re looking to enjoy the celebration without the crowds, consider viewing from a nearby hotel or restaurant.

Rio de Janeiro In the capital of Brazil, locals and visitors from all over the world head to the famous Copacabana beach to watch performances and dance the Samba. Think Carnival meets New Year’s Eve beach party—which is great for those looking to stay warm this holiday. If you go, be sure to wear white, which is said to bring good luck for the New Year. Countdown to midnight, throw flowers into the ocean, and end the night with an incredible fireworks show

ALC Health adds more tools to ALC World, its dedicated online member service

ALC-World-TYPEALC Health has added yet more online tools and technology to its dedicated member only service ALC World ( Provided as part of each ALC Health policyholder’s membership package, ALC World offers a wealth of information covering medical facilities and services worldwide including city profiles, a drug and medical phrase translation service and local security updates.

Adding a further 500 medical providers to its contracted community, an increase of 9% and 200 new facilities, an increase of 14%, ALC World has also expanded the number of countries included in its Drug Equivalency Guide including the Philippines, Panama, Cyprus, Turkey, Jordan, Bahamas and Jamaica bringing the total number of countries to 42.

Additional languages are now included as part of the Medical Translation Tool which now includes audio and bilateral translations for twelve languages representing the primary languages for 193 countries: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Andrew Apps, Director at ALC Health adds “For many expatriates, finding the right doctor or medical facility in an unfamiliar country can be difficult at best of times.

With ALC World our members have access to a wealth of comprehensive data covering doctors, specialists, clinics and hospitals which enables the user to make an informed decision when making that all important choice of who to use, for what and where. With a further expansion of the online drug translation tool, making sure the correct drug is prescribed when a repeat prescription is needed becomes simple and straightforward”.

Travelling While Pregnant

The moment a woman discovers she’s pregnant, her life immediately changes forever. Not only do you have to prepare for your new baby’s arrival, but you must also take the necessary steps and precautions to ensure he develops safely and properly. And if you’re the type who loves to travel and doesn’t plan on stopping until absolutely necessary (or as recommended by your doctor) there are some specific travel tips you should consider before embarking on a trip writes the

Know the best times to travel (and the worst). While pregnancy can cause nausea and fatigue, these symptoms typically don’t last throughout the entire pregnancy. The second trimester is considered the best time to travel since you’re less likely to experience morning sickness and fatigue. You should however try to avoid traveling after 36 to 38 weeks of pregnancy, unless your doctor gives you permission. If you do plan on flying late in your pregnancy, check to see if your airline requires a note from your doctor if you’re scheduled to deliver within 30 days of takeoff.

Bring a copy of all necessary medical information. If you need treatment from a local doctor during your trip, it’s important to have a copy of your prenatal records to help him better understand your pregnancy and specific needs.

If flying, opt for a pat down instead of getting scanned. When going through security at the airport, try to avoid AIT scanners (the ones that spin around you) and ask to receive a pat down instead. Since the effects of the scanners on the fetus are unknown, doctors advise women to avoid them altogether.

Choose an aisle seat. This will give you more room to stretch and allow you easier access to the bathroom. Be sure to take frequent walks to the bathroom to prevent blood clots. You might also want to wear compression socks or tights to keep your blood circulating.

Bring healthy snacks and drink plenty of water. While women should drink tons of water when pregnant, this is especially true when traveling. Aim for eight to twelve glasses of water a day to ensure the fetus is getting enough.

Pack loose and comfortable clothing. Avoid anything that’s too tight to ensure you’re as comfortable as possible during your travels.

Watch what you eat. Traveling can make it difficult to maintain a healthy and regular diet. Be sure to cut back on foods and drinks that are likely to cause gas and heartburn, and opt for foods that are high in fiber. Instead of eating three big meals a day, aim for several small meals and take your time when eating.

Slow it down. Since it’s easy to get tired when pregnant, it’s best to keep your schedule light and simple. Scheduling time to nap each day may be a good way to re-boost your energy stores and avoid exhaustion.

Third of international assignments fail due to stress

Areas of dissatisfaction among the mobile workforce could jeopardise the success of their overseas assignment and lessen the return on investment for employers, says a new report out this week.

A survey has highlighted the fact many expat workers are unaware of the benefits and assistance available to help them with their overseas assignment. It is estimated up to a third of international assignments fail due to family stress, burn-out, increased workloads, and cultural differences. These problems occur despite significant investment from multinational companies, estimated at almost three to five times that of the employee’s salary.

According to the survey, the majority of companies are providing the resources rated as most important by employees including general relocation services (80%), settling in services (63%), and medical preparedness (65%).

Over three-quarters (78%) of expats and their families have accessed medical care abroad. Expats under 34 years old were considerably less well informed about the details of their health plans than other age groups. For example, uncertainty over how to handle claims was four times higher than the average of other age segments, and a lack of knowledge over where to access healthcare was triple that of other groups.

The results also indicated having a family strongly influences health care choices. Those on assignment with spouses or partners and children were most likely to access care, with percentages as high as 91% in these segments compared to single expats (64%) and expats without children (67%). While those who had a partner or children back in their home country tend to seek routine treatment at home, rather than where they are posted.

Extract reproduced with kind permission of

Global AIDS battle being won but discrimination continues

World Aids Day was on Sunday (1 December), so what better time to reflect on how far the fight against HIV/AIDS has come in recent decades. A disease that once signified a death-sentence is slowly but surely in decline and an end to the most destructive pandemic in human history is no longer unimaginable writes

On the whole, HIV sufferers are living longer, more fulfilled lives. However, those most at risk of contracting the virus; sex workers, users of intravenous drugs and homosexual men, still face daily stigma from society at large.

Maybe surprisingly, it has been reported that the number of new cases in some European countries has actually been increasing. In the current period of austerity challenging much of the continent, treatment and services have fallen victim to government cuts.


It has been suggested that as the incidence of the disease declines, it is no longer taken as seriously as it once was. But where does that leave the 35 million people around the world still living with HIV/AIDS?

There remains widespread misunderstanding, and cultural differences mean that sufferers are still often demonised. This is evident from the fact that more than 70 countries across the world continue to uphold some form of law prohibiting homosexuality, restricting access to treatment and support for those most in need.

It is also necessary that the attitude towards female sufferers changes, as it is now possible to prevent transmission of the infection to any unborn children. In much of Africa women are still seen as the carriers and transmitters of the virus.

UNAIDS will be inaugurating Zero Discrimination Day on the 1st March 2014 in an attempt to end the persecution faced by many HIV/AIDS sufferers.

Raising awareness is key to winning the battle against AIDS. Some facts that you may not know:

  • With proper treatment it is possible for HIV sufferers to no longer be infectious.
  • Life expectancy of an HIV sufferer after 5 years of treatment is the same as the rest of the population, if they are diagnosed early.
  • It only takes 15-20 minutes to get the results from an HIV test.

The emphasis is now firmly on early diagnosis, as early treatment reduces the likeliness of a carrier being contagious. Ignorance of HIV/AIDS continues to be as much of an issue in the west as it is in Sub-Saharan Africa. For example, in Britain 1 in 4 people with HIV are undiagnosed and in Germany the figure worryingly jumps to 1 in 3.

For more information about AIDS awareness, visit the official World AIDS Day website.