Ultimate Gap Year Parties and Events
1. Rio Carnival, Brazil
The Rio Carnival - or Carneval, as it's known locally - is perhaps the biggest and wildest party on Earth. Carneval takes place from Friday to Tuesday over the weekend before Lent; usually towards the end of February or the start of March.
The formal part of the celebrations - if you can call it formal - is a contest between samba schools, dressed in elaborate costumes and drumming their hearts out in the custom-built Sambódromo. However, this part of the Carneval is not free, you will need to buy tickets to see it and these sell out fast.
If you don't want to splash out a couple of hundred quid on a ticket to one of the balls or the samba parade, just join in the madness on the streets. Over Carneval the whole of Rio in Brazil transforms into a frantic, frenzied, noisy, sweaty party. Base yourself in Ipanema for traditonal neighbourhood bands during the day and at night, head to the famous Copacabana beach and party until dawn.
Leave your valuables and your inhibitions in your room. Go on, lose yourself to the infectious rhythm of the Samba beat...
2. New Year's Eve in Sydney, Australia
As one of the first cities on the planet to see in the new year, Sydney always goes all out with their New Year's Eve celebrations. Top tip is to go out early to ensure you squeeze all the partying possible out of this city. Loads of family events take place during the day, but the evening focus is always on the Darling Harbour and the Harbour Bridge which make for an awesome backdrop for the most stunning fireworks you'll ever see. Most people tend to head to the Harbour to see in the new year, so be sure to get there early.
Mrs. Macquarie's Chair, in the Botanic Gardens, is a cracking place to see the fireworks - and also one of the most popular. Situated in an outlet up from the Opera House, it faces the Harbour Bridge and offers an amazing view. Dawes Pint and Blues Point Reserve are also good spots. The fireworks are all banged popped out by 12.30am, but the parties don't stop until dawn.
You will need to sort your accommodation out well in advance should you want to celebrate new year in Sydney, Australia. Be prepared and book your hostel or hotel early.
When we say early, we do mean early. People start booking up hostels around April and they arrive to get the best view points at around noon on the 31st.
3. St Patrick's Day in New York City, USA
You can't speak in any New Yorker for more than 10 minutes without them telling you about their relatives in Ireland. Which is probably why this city boasts the largest St Patrick's Parade in the World. Quite a spectacle it is too, with over 150,000 turning the streets into a sea of green.
The parade kicks off at around 11am on St Patricks Day from 44th Street and 5th Avenue. Expect to see a few politicians, loads of high school bands and a dozen or so bagpipers. For the best views, bag a seat on the upper steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art or anywhere along the north end of the parade route where you can find a space.
The parade stops for a minute's silence around midday and usually finishes about 5pm when most people hit the bars. As you would expect from the largest St Patrick's Day parade in the World, hostels and accommodation gets booked up pretty quick - so be sure to get in there early.
4. Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan, Thailand
Every month, over 10,000 UV painted people from all over the world head to Koh Phangan for one of the wildest nights of their lives. The Full Moon party takes place at every full moon and begins at dusk. There is no entrance fee to the party itself, but be aware that local hostels and bungalows often get booked up months ahead for the days around the Full Moon Party. Be sure to book your bed well in advance - not that you'll probably plan to get any sleep that night...
Every musical taste is catered for at the Full Moon Party in Thailand; from techno to reggae, dance to trance. Jugglers and fire-eaters entertain partygoers along the beach while traders sell a variety of snacks and drinks. Dance for hours on the white sands with thousands of others before cooling down in the warm surf to watch the fireworks display.
A free party on a tropical beach? Surely, the meaning of paradise... enjoy yourself, be aware and don't be one of the idiots that are ruining the island with the rubbish left behind.
5. Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany
Oktoberfest is Munich's beer festival that runs from the penultimate weekend in September until the first one in October. Millions of people head here from across the globe to drink massive beers, eat traditional food, sing raucous songs, groove to some oompah music and generally have a thigh-slappingly good time. Mostly though, it's all about drinking and you'll see plenty of waitresses in typical Bavarian costumes run themselves ragged serving more beer than you can imagine.
On the first day, the Schottenhamel tent is the place to be, here you'll catch the official opening ceremonies at around 11am before the Lord Mayor of Munich has the honor of tapping the first keg of Oktoberfest beer. Then the drinking can officially begin! A litre of beer costs about £7 and there are plenty to try.
Be sure to book your accommodation before you arrival, as hotels and hostels will be crammed with beer-lovin' types from all over the World at this time of year.