Scoring that midnight kiss is easily one of the most steadfast and sought after ways of ringing in the New Year. In my experience, for all the planning that usually goes into making the New Year the ultimate party, most of the time it ends up decidedly underwhelming. For most of us (single folk at least), a successful New Year’s eve really only has two components a) not missing the actual count-down, and b) finding someone, random or planned, to embrace the New Year with (pun intended).

So, for the most over-planned night of the year, if this one ends in disappointment, why not start planning for next and go the extra mile – or thousand – and really make it a kiss to start the year off right. Instead of a whole bunch of complicated plans, here’s one that’s only two steps: be in the right place at the right time, and be with someone (planned or spontaneous) and let the rest take care of itself.

To start you off planning, here are five of the best places to kiss-in the New Year:

1. Times Square, New York

This list wouldn’t be complete, or credible without perhaps this MOST famous place to ring in the New Year. Watching the ball drop, surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people. If you like getting lost in a crowd and watching the ball drop in real time, as everyone else watches the re-broadcast version, then this is the place for you. The crowds the cold and the wait may not be for everyone of course. If you still want the romance of the famous ball-drop without having to stand in the cold, (since you’re probably already travelling to New York) the best strategy  is to reserve a spot at one of the many restaurants bordering Times Square or book a room (early!) in one of the hotels. Even if you don’t have a room with a view, often the hotels will have an area cordoned off outside their entrance for guests.

2. Copacabana, Brazil

If you haven’t heard already, Brazil is (in)famous for ringing in the New Year  under open skies on white sand beaches  at the peak of their summer heat . While there are festivities across the country, including Sao Paulo, where over a million people gather on Paulista Avenue for a giant party, it ranks a distant second to the 2.5 million people that party on Copacabana beach for the night  (and probably long into the next as well). A survey by recently found that Brazil was the most popular global destination for New Year’s eve. While tradition is to wear white and jump seven waves at midnight, (if you can make it close to the water), finding the right moment for the perfect kiss at midnight while dancing to the music is not going to be difficult.

3.Niagra Falls, Ontario

This option will take you back to the cold-north, but who’s to say that bundling up together for warmth isn’t a recipe for planting-one-on. Some 40 thousand people in Queen Victoria Park is a far cry from the millions in New York or Copacabana, but the free concert, annual Winter Festival of Lights and breathtaking backdrop of the falls all add up to a midnight fireworks display that gets broadcast across the country.

4. Sydney Harbour, Australia

If you’re a fan of being first, then Sydney is the best  (if not technically the most accurate) place to be for the New Year. While Australia is also great for the warmth, and there are some great places on land, including the “Harbour Party” in Luna Park, rather than brave the crowds for a view of the spectacular fireworks show from land, the best plan is to do it ON the harbour. Many cruise lines will anchor in the Parade giving them access to the exclusion zone on the harbour, and a perfect view of all the action.

5. Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy

This is a gimme when it comes to ringing in the new year with a kiss, and not just because Venice is known as one of the most romantic places in the world. Every year, the tradition in Venice is to ring in the New Year with a massive group kiss in the Piazza San Marco. To ring in 2013 the organizers have added an extra element of allure, asking participants to dress all in white (sound familiar) and wear masks, in anticipation of the Venice Carnivale. Venice is great for masks, which makes finding a stranger to kiss all but guaranteed.

Bonus – Celebrate Twice in Samoa

A year and one (or maybe two) days ago, Samoa wiped an entire day (December 30th, 2011) from its calendar by redrawing where the international date line fell. That changed Samoa from the last country to see the sun set, to the first country to see it rise. Samoa is now a one hour flight, but a full day on the clock apart from American Samoa, making it possible to celebrate New Years eve and that kiss twice!

Photo Credits: Title photo by DVIDSHUB