6 Ways to Spend New Year’s in London

November 28, 2018

We will all be SOMEWHERE that moment when the clock strikes 12 midnight and the New Year 2019 begins. Some will be watching the countdown from their living room couch; others may be fast asleep. Are you a lucky one that chose to be in London for the New Year’s festivities? If so, how do you plan to celebrate?

We have a compiled a short list of ways to bring in the London New Year:

  • The fireworks
  • Festive activities
  • Dinner with a view
  • Enjoy the evening at home
  • New Year’s brunch
  • New Year’s Day parade

The Fireworks

Londoners suggest that the best activity in their city on New Year’s Eve is the Mayor of London’s fireworks display. And yes, the best view will be from the ticketed areas along the River Thames near the London Eye where music and lights combine to bring in the New Year. Traditionally, Big Ben chimes the arrival of midnight. However, since Big Ben is under repair, it will be interesting to see if a chime or a digital clock will bring in 2019. Second wave of tickets are available at Noon (London time) on 30 November.

Festive Activities

Christmas at Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens is a glorious place to visit all year round. With the palm house and orchid collections, you could spend a lovely day even when it is cold outside. But during December, something special happens at Kew Gardens at night — the lights come on, and they are fabulous. There are a few tickets left for New Year’s Eve.

Ice Skating

There are several places to find an outdoor rink where you can strap on your skates (or more likely rental ones, since you probably didn’t pack yours). While visiting London earlier this month, the U.S. team spotted the ice rink outside The Natural History Museum. There are also outdoor rinks at Hyde Park, Somerset House, Tower of London, and Hampton Court Palace. The debut of a rooftop rink at the John Lewis flagship department store on Oxford Street would also be fun to visit. Canary Wharf has a section of the rink that is covered — always a nice option during inclement weather.

Winter Wonderland

The festive extravaganza in Hyde Park gets bigger every year. It is free to attend, and is open from 10am to 10 pm from 22 November until 6 January. Closed on Christmas Day. There are some ticketed rides and attractions that have a cost, and they can be booked in advance here: Winter Wonderland Tickets

Theater

Head away from the fireworks crowds, and enjoy a show in Covent Garden. Some of the productions will only have matinee performances on 31 December, so check in advance. Read more about London Theater on our Anglophile blog here: 4 Ways to Enjoy London Theater.

Dinner with a View

Restaurants with a view will be expensive. If your budget allows, here are some good options:

  • The Rooftop at the Trafalgar St. James is within walking distance of many of the London Connection properties, and the reviews are stellar of this very upscale restaurant.
  • The Shard has several choices from Aqua on the top floor to Hutong on the 33rd floor. Both would be an ideal location to view the Lord Mayor’s fireworks display.
  • Sky Bar London offers cuisine from around the world, live cooking stations, and claims to have the best view of the fireworks.

Enjoy the evening in your vacation apartment

2-167 Pall Mall, Living Room

London Connection has a variety of vacation apartments in the best neighborhoods, and can accommodate anywhere from one person to large groups. Known for their personal approach that carries from booking, to the face-to-face let in service, car service to and from the airport — not to mention the fabulous decor! Why not spend as much time in your flat as possible?

You might prefer to have an early dinner, and bring in the New Year in your own space. In fact, it might surprise you how many people prefer the quiet evening over the bustling crowds. You could order some food to go from nearby, and enjoy the time alone or with your family and friends sharing your accommodation. Break out something sparkling to drink at midnight; a perfect evening!

New Year’s Brunch

Timeout magazine has dozens of articles every week that are so interesting for London travelers. You can find this free magazine at corner newsstands, or subscribe to receive a digital copy to help in your planning. This article will guide you to restaurants that will be open on New Year’s Day. 

As the U.S. team recently traveled to London, we found that the local pubs had some of the best food available. You can’t go wrong with a good old English breakfast. However, we learned that we needed to ask for our eggs to be cooked a little longer for some of our tastes.

New Year’s Day Parade

Do you want to celebrate side by side with the Londoners? The afternoon will be filled with festivities along the London New Year’s Day Parade route. The free parade begins outside the Ritz on Piccadilly at 12 Noon, and you can enjoy observing anywhere along the way to Piccadilly Circus, Lower Regent Street, Pall Mall, Trafalgar Square, and ending at Parliament Street.

As the parade participants pass the Cenotaph on Whitehall, they are as quiet as possible to show respect for the war memorial. If you prefer to hear the music of marching bands and other performers, you will want to choose a different location.

Perhaps you would like to have reserved grandstand seating; that is also a possibility. You must be in your seat by 11:30 am, and seats are still available. Since this is the largest New Year’s parade in the world, there will be about 300 million TV viewers around the globe. Find more info here LNYDP.com

Good news all around. If you are in London, enjoy the celebration of New Year’s in a variety of ways. And for those of us who will not have the chance to be in London this year, we can watch the parade and plan a way to be in London next year.