New Year’s Eve celebrations in London are the stuff of legend. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with countless others on the banks of the River Thames, chanting a countdown to the midnight bongs of Big Ben and being wowed by the fireworks display – it has to be done. But maybe only once.
If, like us, you take offence at being charged a tenner to enter a central London pub that you strolled into the day before just because you can glimpse the sky, then read on. We have a few ideas for a London New Year’s Eve party with a difference.
Nothing says New Year’s Eve in London more than an over-priced drink, an elbow in the ribs and the ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ sounds that accompany the legendary fireworks show (as well as the very English ‘tut’ when someone barges ahead in the queue). Of all the New Year’s Eve events in London, this is the most spectacular.
If you want to join the throng in central London, you’ll find vantage points along the banks of the Thames. Head for Monument, London Bridge, Embankment or Waterloo stations. But be warned that public transport is a nightmare on NYE. Our London guide extraordinaire, David describes it as a “crush of humanity” and “truly unbearable.” Get the idea?
David’s advice is to “go against the herd.” So these hotspots would be his places to avoid at all costs. But if you want to be amongst the pulsating NYE activity, here’s where it’s at:
Our recommendation for enjoying New Year’s Eve in central London is to seriously splash out and get a hotel room with a view, a table at a Michelin-starred restaurant or book a rooftop bar. Be prepared to pay way over the odds and make an early reservation – by mid-Nov it’s going to be too late. A few of our suggestions:
Rules restaurant in Covent Garden: London’s oldest restaurant dates back to 1798 and serves classic British dishes. Deservedly, it has Michelin-starred status. Enjoy an indulgent, civilised three-course meal in style here. The Winter Garden cocktail bar is a bit of a hidden gem. Elegant and relaxed, it’s a great spot to celebrate the end of 2023.
Natural History Museum: Last year’s event was a sell out, so you’ll need to book early to secure a space amongst the dinosaurs. The pop-up party’s theme is the four elements – fire, water, earth and air – so you can expect a spectacular night.
Radio Rooftop Bar on The Strand: This exclusive rooftop bar is a great spot in the West End. Step inside the express lift and you’ll be whooshed to the top floor like Charlie in the Great Glass Elevator. You’ll feel on top of the world (or at least England) as you look out over the London skyline.
The Shard: Party the night away with a glass of something expensive in hand whilst drinking in spectacular 360 degree views from a vantage point at The Shard. Another pricey, but special one.
Tattershall Castle, Victoria Embankment: Step aboard this party boat moored on the Thames near the London Eye for a cracking view of the fireworks. The Champagne and canapes will flow accompanied by music and entertainment. Party like it’s 1999, until it’s actually 2024.
London New Year’s Eve Ball, Battersea Park: Bringing the Big Apple to Battersea, Evolution is an immersive experience giving you a New York night out without the plane journey. Think Broadway show, glitzy ballrooms, subway stations and Manhatten scenery. Drinks may be free, but tickets are £199.
Looking for live music, nightclubs, live DJs and the cool crowd? Head to Soho or Shoreditch to hit the dancefloor.
New Year’s Eve in London. Psssst, here’s some seriously good advice: head for the hills. In the immortal words of Will Rogers, “always drink upstream from the herd.”
For a London Walks New Year’s Eve join us on our 9 pm Hampstead Walk. And not just because that walk is “the crown jewel of London Walks” (the New York Times). The GOAT – Greatest Of All Time – reason is that at walk’s end we head for the Hill. Parliament Hill. Yes, at the stroke of midnight we’ll be up on the roof of London. We’ll see the New Year in – watch the fireworks – from the Skybox. And not just the main fireworks. The symphony of fireworks. There’ll be New Year’s Eve fireworks all over London. And from up there – up in the Skybox – we’ve got a panoramic. We can see the whole shebang, from Walthamstow to Wimbledon.
And don’t just drink upstream from the herd. Hop on public transport upstream from the herd. Up in Hampstead on New Year’s Eve we’re contraflow. Unlike the gazillions down in central London we’re not going to have any problem getting on the Tube. Or a bus. Or a train. Memories make us rich. Well, good memories. Don’t deal yourself an ordeal.
Less is more. Less is better. Small is beautiful. Bears repeating, there’s a lot to be said for the path less trodden – for a more intimate New Year’s Eve celebration.
A local house party – should an invitation come your way, carpe diem. It’ll be a million times better than the million-strong mob in central London.
Watch a great film – When Harry Met Sally comes to mind. Send out for a curry or fish and chips. And then watch the fireworks and the countdown – not to mention worldwide New Year’s Eve celebrations – on the box. From your sofa. A hassle-free New Year’s Eve. And really, if we’re honest, the best view you’ll get of the fireworks.
The Primrose path that ends well on New Year’s Eve. Ends right up top, up on the summit of Primrose Hill. Ah, yes, Primrose Hill. Another North London high spot that affords amazing views over central London. It’s a gorgeous, green and natural viewing platform from which to enjoy the festivities, bid farewell to 2023, see in the New Year. But do wrap up warm.
Often overlooked and deemed a boring, recovery day, New Year’s Day can be a great time to do something different. Try an activity, visit a new place or explore an unknown area. It provides an opportunity to partake in winter activities that have evaded you during the busy Christmas period.
Skate at Somerset House is a wonderful winter event – it’s the ultimate ice rink. A frozen Somerset House feels more like being in Eastern Europe than England. Ice skating in historic surroundings is a truly memorable experience, swiftly followed by an indulgent hot chocolate. You could opt to do this on New Year’s Eve with the night sky as a backdrop, but it’s a lovely way to start the new year too.
Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park has its final day on 1st January, so it’ll be your last chance to enjoy the event. There’s ice skating, circus shows, food stalls, fairground rides including the Big Wheel and various other attractions. It’s a fun way to start January.
Ice Rink at Canary Wharf is another great winter spot, this time in East London. Skate beneath twinkly fairy lights and enjoy the views from this Canada Water location.
If skating’s not your thing, and you’ve had your fair share of bottomless Prosecco-fuelled brunches, then try a different pursuit. Start your New Year’s resolution to be more active and take a walk. You may be surprised to learn that we have an array of London walks taking place on New Year’s Day. So pull on those walking shoes and explore the capital with our insider guides.