The Best 24-Hour Party Cities
Spoiler alert: Sydney isn’t one of them.
In the mood to stay out until sunrise? If you’re in Sydney, you’re in the wrong place.
Since the NSW government introduced tough restrictions on late-night alcohol sales two years ago, the night-time economy has been on a steady decline, with many bars and clubs forced to close their doors due to plummeting profits. If you’re out after midnight you’re more likely to find yourself wandering the streets with nowhere to go than busting a move on the dance floor.
It doesn’t seem like things will improve anytime soon for night owls, with premier Mike Baird responding to criticism of the lock-out laws in a Facebook post that “it is going to take a lot for [him] to change [his] mind” on the policy.
But don’t let it get you down, party people. There are still plenty of places around the world thriving after-dark. Pack your bags (and your dancing shoes).
The bright lights of this mind-blowing metropolis can make you forget about the need for sleep. Wander the mesmerising streets of Shinjuku, Shibuya or Shimokitazawa until sunrise and you’ll only scratch the surface of places to discover. Whether you want to sip sake in a hole-in-the-wall bar, nerd-out in a maze-like gaming arcade or wile away the hours in a karaoke room Lost In Translation style, you can – at any time of day or night.
In the land of no lock-outs, the back room at Revolver is open 24-hours on the weekend, and Boney doesn’t stop the party until 7am on Fridays and Saturdays. There’s also underground venue Mercat Basement, purpose-built to host electronic music acts. The late-night dining scene is also thriving, meaning your midnight snack need not be a choice of Hungry Jack’s or Pieface. At Supper Inn Chinese Restaurant you can tuck into crispy-skinned chicken and noodles until 2.30am. This weekend is the annual White Night Melbourne, where art, dance, film and light installations converge for a world-class cultural event held from 7pm Saturday to 7am Sunday.
#3 New Orleans
Hedonism is encouraged in this southern American city, which has some of the most relaxed alcohol consumption laws in the country. Here, it’s legal to drink from an open container of booze on the street (as long as it’s in a plastic cup, not a glass) and most bars will give you your drink to-go – like a doggy bag, but for alcohol. The Mardi Gras festivities in February every year are a lot of fun, but visit outside of that time to have a more authentic experience. Bourbon Street is worth a look for curiosity’s sake, but make sure to head to Frenchmen Street, where jazz, blues and other acts play in small clubs until the wee hours every night of the week. The Spotted Cat and DBA are good places to start, but the whole street comes alive with buskers.
It’s a city perched on a white-sand beach, so it’s saying something that Miami really comes alive after dark. Catch international DJ talent every week at LIV or ClubSpace, or swing your hips somewhere more intimate like A-list venue Wall. You better bring your party stamina – most clubs stay open until 5am, and then there’s a host of after-hours places to cater to the kick-on crowd, such as 24-E11EVEN. Or, you could hit the sand to watch the sunrise over the ocean. Miami also plays host to the world’s biggest electronic music congregation, Miami Music Week, a mix of parties, gigs and industry events happening in March.
#5 Rio de Janeiro
If hitting one of the world’s biggest parties – Carnival – is on your bucket list, start planning now for next year with 12 months to go before the 2017 festivities. But you can have a good time in Rio whenever you go. In the glamorous Brazilian city it’s normal to not go out to dinner until 10pm, before hitting the clubs at midnight or 1am. Neighbourhoods Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon, Barra, and Lapa are where you want to be to soak up the LA-meets-Ibiza atmosphere. Music venue Circo Voador, with its palm tree-lined sunken dance floor is consistently rated one of the best nightclubs in town, and the deck at Zero Zero is a sophisticated spot.
#6 New York City
They call it ‘the city that never sleeps’ for a reason – you can find almost anything you want to eat/drink/see/do at any hour in the Big Apple. The Empire State Building observation deck doesn’t close until 2am, and the Brooklyn Museum is open until 11pm on the first Saturday of every month. Standard bar-closing time is 4am, and your options are as varied as super-hip meat-packing district nightspot Provocateur to the more low-key Williamsburg joint The Gutter, which has eight bowling lanes and even more types of craft beer. Then there’s the 24-hour restaurants; try B.A.D Burger, dimly-lit Parisian brasserie style place French Roast, or NYC icon Katz’s Delicatessen, which is open 24-hours on the weekend. And don’t miss the high-calibre stand-up scene – at the Comedy Cellar the last act begins just after midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
London is planning to support and grow its night-time economy by offering a 24-hour Tube service on weekends (due to begin sometime in 2016). It’s no surprise in a city that thrives after dark … and doesn’t stop once the sun comes up. Swing Revival Club doesn’t kick off until 1.45am on Sundays, meanwhile Jaded starts when most others finish – 5am on Sunday morning. But clubbing is just the start of the night-owl activities. It can be hard to get a reservation at sky-high dine-dining venue Duck & Waffle, but since it’s open 24-hours, you could try your luck in the middle of the night. You can also get a cultural hit in the wee hours – during the summer season Shakespeare’s Globe offers midnight performances.
#8 Las Vegas
It feels like the day runs in reverse in Vegas; when the sky begins to turn a pink-purple hue it’s just beginning, and the first signs of sunrise signal it’s time for sleep. While mega-casinos made this town famous, the lifestyle of excess that goes with them has brought world-class restaurants, clubs and performances to the desert oasis. At the top of your list should be club-of-the-moment Omnia at Caser’s Palace (formerly Pure), where major players like Afrojack, Calvin Harris and Armin van Buuren hit the decks frequently. Start off your night in style sipping a cocktail and taking in the view from the Mandarin Bar, and finish it with the full Vegas experience at pool-side club venue XS at Wynn.
The edgy German city’s eclectic night-life vibe is influenced by recent history: when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 and the country was reunified, there was no time to waste building clubs – people wanted to dance. Now. That’s why the most famous night spots are in abandoned buildings – Berghain and Tresor are in old power plants, and Sisyphos is a former dog food factory. Many of the clubs are open 24-hours on the weekend, or at least kick on until the afternoon when everyone goes home for a disco nap. Berlin bouncers are notorious for being selective about who they let in and often won’t explain why when they refuse someone. Your best shot is to avoid going in a large group, and trying to speak some German to them. Danke.
(Lead image: Steve Collis/Flickr)