Nothing compares with New Year’s Eve in Rio. Midnight is celebrated all along the beaches, but especially in Copacabana. 2.5 million people crowd together on the beach and the road, which is closed to traffic. Including the other beaches around 5 million people come out celebrate New Year and take part in the greatest demonstration of peace the world has ever seen. Almost everyone wears white. The champagne bottles pop, accompanying the swish and crack of the fireworks in a display that grows in color, form, and duration with each year that passes.
The apartment buildings and hotels are a blaze of light as parties warm up for midnight and people crowd to the windows to watch the festivities below. Around 11pm people start to leave home and join the throngs in the streets. The roads are closed and traffic is reduced almost to zero. The crowds surge towards the beach, united by happiness and hope for the coming year. Copacabana retains its New Years Eve traditions, and the beach is illuminated by thousands of candles as Christian and Afro-Brazilian religions mix and make their offerings and promises for the new year. The surf is full of red roses and white gladioli as people make their offerings to the Queen of the Sea, Iemanjá, and even small model boats are launched full of flowers. On the stroke of midnight the fireworks display starts. The sky lights up as the cry "Happy New Year" is heard in many languages as millions turn to embrace family, friends, and strangers. After midnight the party continues with beer, hot-dogs, and music. Four stages on Copacabana beach and over 120 others spread around the city, will provide music for dancing until dawn, when the hotels will provide the first delicious breakfast of the new century.