If you are a spur of the moment type of person, London for New Years is probably not the right place for you. Sure, you can go. You can see some things. But if you’re looking to be right in the middle of it all then you will want to do some planning and research before it. Like, months before.
London is already a big city. Now add the fact that there will be multiple streets blocked off the day before and the day of, as well as people from all around the world just like you pouring in to see the year off.
I know what you’re thinking, you think that you’ll just avoid those streets, but it’s not that easy. A lot of the streets that will close down happen to be streets that will take you to or around major tourist attractions such as Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and other sites. If you are hoping to make use of the trip, you’re going to want to plan accordingly to see these places either a few days before or after New Years or a few days after you run the risk of missing out altogether.
If seeing the world-famous fireworks over the London Eye while listening to the bells of Big Ben ring in the new year is on your bucket list you better go ahead and sign up for email alerts now. Until 2014 the event was free and open to everyone. Due to security reasons and over crowding ( an estimated 500,000 people were showing up) the mayor decided to turn it into a ticketed event. The tickets only cost £10 and are not used to make a profit. Instead, the money is used for security and extra space for the event. In 2016 the first batch of 100,000 went on sale in October. They sold out the same day. The second batch went on sale at the beginning of December and sold out as well. So, the lesson here? If seeing the fireworks right next to Big Ben is an important part of your new year’s plans start thinking about it now.
If your thinking standing shoulder to shoulder with thousands of people around Big Ben at midnight isn’t really your thing and you’d enjoy more of the sparkly drink and dancing experience, there are several places that offer a broad range of options. Everything from black tie parties at the natural history museum, to rave parties fully equipped with bubble rooms, London has no shortage of choices when it comes to partying. Some venues will have you dancing until the sun comes up and then serve breakfast before sending you off to nurse that hangover. All the ones I found (with views to the fireworks show) were all ticketed parties and sold out pretty quick. Then again, I found several with no views at all that were still ticketed, so again, it’s important on this one to plan ahead as well. They aren’t hard to find. Several London bloggers put out a list before the big event. So just ask “the google” and see what direction it takes you.
If you’re looking for a place that’s free, laid back, and fairly kid friendly, join the locals and head over to Tower Bridge. It’s not as publicized, but from there you can look up and down the Thames River and see just about every firework display London has to offer. While you’ll get a better view of all the firework displays from the top of the bridge, you can also go down below where it’s less crowded and still get a pretty good view. Bonus, you’ll be right next to The Shard which lights up with its own brilliant light show at midnight. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a few sneaky low-key firework shows on the grounds.
Open container laws do not apply here, apparently. So grab a bottle of your favorite champagne, or, if you’ve got the kids, sparkling grape juice, and head down there.