Spending New Year’s Eve in London this year? Whether you’re fired up for fireworks or ready to ring in the New Year in a quieter fashion, there are plenty of attractions that are open over the holidays. We’ve searched high and low and found some of our favourite things to do to ring in 2017!
Open-air ice rinks have been set up at iconic locations across the capital, for the festive season. Choose a scenic backdrop for your glide across the ice, including Somerset House, the Natural History Museum, the Tower of London and others. Warm up with a hot drink in the café or spectator’s gallery after your session; skate hire is usually included in the ticket price.
Many museums will be open on both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, ranging from big-name attractions to smaller institutions. Think V&A for art history, the Imperial War Museum for insights into people’s experiences of war or the British Museum for human history and culture. With more than 200 museums to choose from, there is very little that isn’t covered, but do check the specific opening times before you set off.
The New Year’s Eve in London fireworks display is for ticket-holders only (now sold out), but if you don’t want to watch on your TV screen, there are several other good vantage points. Primrose Hill is always popular and there are several bridges that are not included in the access-controlled area (Lambeth, Southwark and the Millennium bridge). Hotels and restaurants with roof terraces may also be able to offer you a high-enough perch – why not ask?
On New Year’s Day, the Mayor’s parade takes place between Green Park and Parliament Square, with over 8,000 performers representing the capital’s 32 boroughs and countries across the world. This year’s theme is “Lights, Camera, Action”, promising giant balloons, music and confetti, along with displays inspired by film & TV.
London’s Royal Parks are a haven of calm and will be open throughout the holidays. Hyde Park will play host to the New Year’s Day Serpentine races, including a 3K fun run and a longer 10K course. You may also see few swimmers taking their traditional New Year’s Day dip.
Further from the city centre, the Cutty Sark in Greenwich is the world’s sole surviving tea clipper – the fastest ship of her time. Discover what life was like on board, possibly with fewer visitors than normal. In Richmond, the Christmas at Kew exhibition will run until 2nd January or you can experience Christmas at Court at Hampton Court Palace, complete with Tudor-era festive food and music.
Many other attractions will be open on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. If you choose carefully (and have a bit of luck), you could end up with a trip to the Zoo or Kensington Palace when it’s a lot less crowded than usual. However, other attractions, such as Winter Wonderland or key shopping areas holding sales, are likely to experience peak visitor numbers as Londoners come out in force to spend the bank holiday weekend with their loved ones.
London Transport will also run late services on New Year’s Eve and a Sunday service on New Year’s Day, but please check your exact route online as engineering works are often planned around the holidays. Many supermarket and other essential shops are also open on both days, but opening hours vary by location.
There are plenty of exciting things to do on New Year’s Eve in London – far more than just fireworks and parties. Whatever you decide to do, we wishing you a good trip and a fabulous 2017!