New Year’s Eve is a time of jubilation, hope, and reflection, celebrated across the globe with a myriad of cultural traditions. Music, as a universal language, plays an integral role in these festivities, uniting people with shared joy and anticipation for the year ahead. In this blog post we will explore how different cultures incorporate music into their New Year’s Eve celebrations.  

Latin America 

In Latin America, New Year’s Eve is an exuberant affair, filled with vibrant music and dance. One of the most iconic traditions is the “Carnaval” style celebration in Brazil where samba music sets the streets alive with electrifying beats. In Mexico, lively mariachi bands serenade the crows. While in Argentina, they have tango performances. They use dance and celebrating with music to symbolize the shedding of past worries and to embrace the new beginnings.  


Across Asia, musical celebrations are diverse and deeply rooted in ancient customs. In Japan, the ringing of the bells at the temples mark the passage of the old year into the new year. This signifies purification and renewal. In South Korea, traditional folk songs called “Taryeong” are sung. In India, the lively beats of the drums and “Shehnai” instruments fill the air. Each of these region’s unique melodies express their aspirations for prosperity and fortune for the upcoming year.  


Europe tends to base their musical traditions on New Year’s Eve with the chiming of church bells and classical performances. In Vienna, the Vienna Philharmonic plays their “New Year’s Concert,” which enchants global audiences with the Strauss waltzes and other compositions. In Spain, they ring chimes twelve times at midnight, and encourage wishes with each stroke. In Scotland, “Auld Lang Syne” is sung passionately as friends link arms to welcome in the new year. Europe’s musical celebrations beautifully blend the past with the excitement of the future.  

As the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, the world is immersed in a symphony of sounds, each unique to its cultural heritage. Music connects people and fosters a collective spirit of hope. The Des Moines Symphony's  performance is one of our community's traditions on New Year's Eve. We hope you'll join us, year after year.