What’s that? You’re planning to travel to London and be in the Big Smoke to see out 2018 and see in 2019? Good call, (ahem) if we say so ourselves. But here’s the million-dollar question, what are you going to be doing and where to actually see out the old year and see in the new year?
Well, whether it’s the fireworks at the South Bank, a big professionally-thrown party or something smaller-in-scale and more relaxed, the UK capital’s got it covered, all right…
Mayor of London’s New Year’s Eve Fireworks
In the past few years the popularity of London’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display has rocketed. Not to blow the our – or, rather, the city’s – own trumpet, but the prodigious pyrotechnics make most other cities’ efforts look like damp squibs (it’s certainly tops to round off a short-break spent at great but very affordable accommodation at the likes of the Grand Royale London Hyde Park hotel).
Thousands are expected line the Thames on December 31st 2018 to see the fireworks in person, so many thousands, in fact, that NYE’s fiery spectacle has been ticketed for the last few years. The best firework viewing locations are sectioned off and made only available to those who have tickets, each with amazing views of the display guaranteed.
There will a number of viewing areas along the Thames and on Waterloo Bridge and Westminster Bridge, as well as an accessible viewing area. You can select your ideal spot when you buy your tickets. Organising tickets in advance also means that you won’t have to set up camp somewhere strange along the Thames in the cold at, like, 4pm, just to stake out a spot. A win-win then.
The Magic of Vienna at The Barbican
Alternatively, why not waltz your way into 2019 at Barbican’s event dedicated to the Magic of Vienna. The Johann Strauss Orchestra performs the music of the Strauss dynasty, making for a glamorous, romantic New Year’s Eve. From 7.30pm.
The vintage themed party at Southbank Centre is back this year, with five floors of themed club nights, ranging from the 1920s to the present day, interspersed with live orchestras, dance lessons, and outdoor terraces offering a midnight view of those world-famous London fireworks. From 7pm.
New Year’s Eve at the Natural History Museum
Animals are the unsurprising theme of the Natural History Museum’s New Year’s Eve party. Dance the night away under Hope the blue whale — the largest creature ever to have lived — or head for the silent disco. Try edible insects, play musical bingo, enjoy live music, and explore the exhibitions, all before the midnight countdown. From 8pm.
New Year’s Eve Ceilidh
For something a bit different, head to Cecil Sharp House in Camden for the New Year’s Eve ceilidh. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an expert dancer or completely new at it, the steps are walked through and everyone is welcome. 8pm-1am.
Outdoor ice skating
Why not take a twirl on the ice at one of London’s winter ice skating rinks? From Somerset House to Canary Wharf, and JW3 to Hampton Court Palace, there’s an ice rink somewhere near you. Advance booking recommended.
It’s the last week of this year’s Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. Get stuck into the markets, food and drink stalls, giant Ferris wheel, ice rink, ice kingdom, circus shows and more. 10am-10pm (although it may close early on December 31st).
Christmas at Kew
Why not spend the evening exploring the Christmas Trail at Kew? The gardens are illuminated with an impressive light display, including laser beams and a tunnel of lights, not to mention the impressive fire garden. There’s a traditional funfair to keep the kids happy, and food and drink stalls dotted around. 5pm-7.40pm.
Christmas at ZSL London Zoo
The team behind Christmas at Kew (above) have also brought their expertise to London Zoo this Christmas, for a festive light trail through the zoo. Most of the animals are tucked up in bed, but they’re recreated in the form of light sculptures along the 1-mile trail. 4.45pm-8pm.
When Harry Met Sally at the PCC
Head to the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square for a screening of 1989 rom-com When Harry Met Sally, with its irresistible NYE finale. Will you have what she’s having? 6pm.
Comedy Carnival at Leicester Square/ Clapham
Pick from venues in Leicester Square and Clapham for Comedy Carnival’s New Year’s Eve shows. At time of writing, the acts have yet to be announced, but choose between just a show ticket, or a ‘show + club’ ticket, to continue partying long after the show’s over. From 7pm.