Despite the fact everyone and their dog has written about where’s best to see the London New Year’s Ever Fireworks, I’ve still had quite a few emails about where I’d recommend, so I thought I’d unload some of my top tips, like a the travel blogging PEZ dispenser that I am.
Tickets for the Southbank are now sold out, but don’t worry if you haven’t got hold of those coveted tickets…
I’ve been up close and personal myself, having watched front row from Westminster Bridge, but in the end I wasn’t a big fan of the hellish crowds so I’ve avoided it since and discovered a mix of other vantage points. Now it’s been ticketed for the past few years (sadly the ticket doesn’t include a comfy couch and hot chocolate) more and more people have followed suit.
Here are a few of my personal recommendations where you can have a good chance at a free view for the New Year’s Eve fireworks in London.
A few years ago, I – by accident- watched the fireworks from Blackfriars station platform and I had an amazing view, it almost beats the front row at Westminster Bridge. If I had to go out and see the fireworks I would try and get to Blackfriars Station – please note the station will be exit only from 9 PM onwards.
Closest Station: Blackfriars
Parliament Hill on Hampstead Heath will always be the best place to see the fireworks. However, crowds are getting bigger every year, and if you want a good viewing spot, you’ll have to get in early (10ish) to stake out your spot.
Closest station? Hampstead National Rail or Tube Station, or Belsize Park and Gospel Oak Tube Stations.
Primrose Hill is another crowd favourite and even closer to central London than Parliament Hill – plus you get to be near Camden and all its stuff to do before or after. Make sure you arrive early (10ish), because spots fill up fast.
Closest station? Chalk Farm or Camden Town
If crowds aren’t your thing you might want to head out further, to the south maybe? You probably might have to squint a little more, but Hilly Fields in Brockley is likely to be a little quieter and you won’t have to get there so early.
Closest station? Lewisham or Brockley
Notable mentions – A quick survey of my London friends found people had had a good time at Alexandra Palace (if you can handle the steep walk up!), and for a more historic time – Greenwich Park is also definitely worth a try (complete with the Cutty Sark and Thor-tastic Royal Naval College in the backdrop).
Earlier this year I put together a ‘reverse wander list‘ post – comprising the bucket list worthy things I’ve already done, and as the year’s end draws near I’m more than happy to add another to the list: wandering around empty London a la 28 Days Later.
28 Days Later is hands down one of my favourite horror movies. Nope, not for the zombies, Cillian Murphy or the tense-as-hell soundtrack. But for the empty London. This scene is probably the best in the entire film, I love how they take the idea of a vacant London and turn it into something frightening, despite there not really being any visible scares. If you haven’t seen it, this is the scene. In my head, I had this idea of seeing London when it’s very quiet and (in my head) at its scariest.
For some reason, I thought Christmas morning seemed to be a good idea for that. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.
You Will Have To Get Up Super Early For the Full Experience
I got to frosty Westminster Bridge at 8 am and this was already too late, for the full experience (no/minimum other people and no cars) you will have to go for the 3 AM wake-up call. Which is reasonable in Summer, but on a cold December morning I could only justify 6.45 AM.
You Will Run Into People
Of the many scarf-wearing masses, you’ll find photographers and tours chasing for those empty shots – even it if takes 20 mins pinned to the same spot. Add to this mix are the tourists wanting to prove they’ve been in London by cosying up to Big Ben in that postcard perfect photo. Surprisingly, lots of people taking out their dogs – which they probably enjoy that more than any doggy gifts. There are the joggers who – I assume – dream of running through an empty London or prepping for that Christmas meal later the day.
Not Everything Is Closed
London isn’t in an entire lockdown over Christmas: for the sandwich deprived – I spotted two Prets that were open, an Italian place, a cake/coffee spot on Regent Street as well as a few gift shops (don’t worry you still can get that union jack flag magnet) that were open. The most useful thing is probably that you can rent a bike if you want to get from A to B a bit quicker and bus tours seemed to run, oh and though I’m not sure this is a positive – Ripley’s Believe It Or Not was ready for business.
The Side streets are the Best
Forget about vacant Westminster Bridge or completely empty Piccadilly Circus, it’s the little side streets where it started to get interesting and will give you the feel (and photograph) the best. I’ve seen Covent Garden empty early in the morning before, but seeing absolutely no one was there, and finally managing to get on the swing chairs was the highlight of my morning. Plus in the smaller streets, the silence you get is damn right weird – there was no sounds to be heard – which for London is like another world.
Would you want to see (or hear) an empty London?
Here’s a bunch of things to see and do to pass the time in the merriest month of winter. read more