So, you’re planning on coming to London to see out 2018… and ring in 2019? Well, that’s New Year’s Eve sorted then, but how about New Year’s Day? Do you know what you’re doing to mark January 1st in the UK capital? To be fair, you’re spoilt for choice; there’s such a vast array of attractions, venues and so on to occupy your time. But what if you want to do something that’ll actually mark the day that’s New Year’s Day itself; something unique and unforgettable?
The New Year’s Day Parade could prove to be just the ticket; wherever you’ve made your base for your London trip (the San Domenico House Chelsea London or otherwise). Full of colour, sound and awesome vibrancy right in the heart of the winter, it’s an event that perfectly encapsulates what welcoming a new year ought to be all about, while delivering a totally 21st-Century London experience – each year, it aims and succeeds at bringing together every one of the city’s 32 boroughs, as representatives from them all of them wend their way along the parade route that covers many of the West End’s most famous streets.
In fact, this year’s parade is expected to be made up of more than 10,000 different performers drawn not just from across the capital but the world; dancers, cheerleaders, acrobats, marching bands, historic vehicles and more will be putting on modern performances, as well as more traditional touches of pomp and ceremony, involving music, dance, plumes of confetti and a barrage of balloons, to entertain the 600,000 spectators expected on the day.
Pop along to the parade then if you want to catch performances from the likes of:
- musicians, dancers and more moving to a Latin beat as they represent South London’s summer-based Carnaval del Pueblo; the London School of Dohl serving up their share of Asian rhythms; the Kimbanguist Brass Band with their trumpet-delivered tunes; the pink-as-you-like US-based Cotton Candies Marching Krewe; Varsity Spirit’s cheerleaders; the Desert Mountain High School Marching Band and Pandemonium Drummers.
- the irresistible and utterly London-centric phenomenon that’s the sequins-clad Pearly Kings and Queens (a charitable organisation of sorts that’s been around for almost 150 years)
- marvellous motors of all types and kinds, shapes and sizes – everything from classic British Minis and Aston Martins to diminutive electric cars in which you can actually indulge in a self-driven guided tour of the capital
- brilliantly enormous balloons of iconic London objects, including black taxi cabs and red telephone boxes; all unmissable as they fill the sky and float along the parade route.
Times, tickets and route
The parade – and all it features – kicks-off in Piccadilly at 12noon on New Year’s Day and, roughly, runs from here (the centre of the West End) to the very heart of the UK’s political power, Parliament Street in Westminster. As you’d expect, it’s entirely free to watch the celebrations (and follow the parade, if you can) wherever you want to on the route but, should you and yours wish to see all that’s going on from a distinctly good vantage point, you can do so via purchasable – and affordable – grandstand tickets.
If you’re not be staying during your London visit at the very centre of the city (but instead at, say, luxury accommodation in Chelsea London), you won’t be able to take a quick stroll along from your hotel to the parade route. But don’t fear; for the reliability of London public transport’ll ensure you don’t miss a thing.
Your best bet to get to a spot on the route swift as you like is to take the Tube. The best Tube stations to head for being Westminster (Jubilee and District and Circle lines), Piccadilly Circus (Piccadilly and Bakerloo lines) and Charing Cross (Bakerloo line), while you’ll find that Embankment (Bakerloo, Northern and District and Circle lines), St. James’s Park (District and Circle lines) and Green Park (Jubilee, Piccadilly and Victoria) are all just a short walk away from the parade route.