Where to watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks for free
Some years go by quickly, others drag on every month. However, this year was special: it managed to do both. If 2022 was a roller coaster, it was one that seemed to be going downhill. We left most of the pandemic behind and found ourselves mired in war, political pantomime and a cost-of-living crisis.
And still – somehow – there was plenty of room for good news across the planet. Same-sex marriage is now legal in 31 countries, including Slovenia for the first time; the fall of wild tigers has been changed; crime in England and Wales is at its lowest level since the early 1980s; child mortality is at an all-time low and cancer deaths are down across Europe, the US, Canada and Japan. Even in a year that seemed ablaze with darkness, much light was shed.
So this New Year’s Eve is a chance to toast that and raise a glass to a 2023 that’s brighter yet. London’s fireworks, as obvious a visual metaphor as possible, return this year after being canceled due to the pandemic. Sadiq Khan said of them: “We are building a better London for everyone and New Year’s Eve is one of the biggest nights of the year for our hospitality industry with our fireworks providing an incredible moment to send a message of love and celebration to the world. .”
The evening starts at 8pm on December 31 and is hosted by the London Eye; tickets were £15 and sold out weeks in advance and while it’s impossible to attend without a ticket, there are plenty of other places to see the show. Here is everything to know.
For those who have tickets
Only those with tickets purchased from See Tickets can attend; don’t sit back and wait to get some from a tout, as reselling is prohibited. Similarly, tickets are non-transferable. Things kick off at 8pm on December 31 and end at midnight on January 1; entry to viewing areas, however, closes at 10:30 p.m. You will need to bring your tickets with you and ID may also be required.
Ticket holders can go to one of six color-coded viewing areas. These are blue, red, pink, green and white, as well as orange, which is the accessible viewing area on Albert Embankment, on the riverside of St. John’s Hospital. Thomas. The evening tends to be extremely busy and movement between areas is impossible; plan carefully where to go. Additionally, the bridge crossing is outside both before and after the event, so factor that into your plans.
Details of your viewing area will be on the ticket, but for more information, go to london.gov.uk.
For those without tickets
It’s impossible to get down to the south bank or any of the viewing areas without a ticket, so don’t try – the city center is quite crowded as it is on New Year’s Eve. Instead, since they can’t pay to see the sky (yet), it’s worth going a little further (literally, in some cases) to catch a glimpse of the main festivities, as well as any other happening around town. Remember, despite rumors to the contrary, travel is not free on New Year’s Eve, so be sure to plan the best way to get home after your night out (tubes will be running all night, except of the Waterloo and City line, and the District Line to Kensington Olympia). Expect a number of Central London Underground stops to be exit only and be aware that many of the routes will either be closed or extremely busy; Ubers are likely to charge through the roof.
For those looking to travel, here are some of the best places to head – just remember to pack a coat as it’s likely to rain.
Ball path and the eastern side of Monument both sit next to the official ticketed viewing areas, so you’ll get most of the views for free – but expect both to be extremely busy, so get there early. Bridges are a similar story. The most famous of these is Tower Bridge, and crowds gather there, but the view is mediocre at best. They are much better Southwark Bridge AND Millennium Bridgeboth closer and with much better views, but expect them to be overwhelmingly packed. Lambeth Bridge AND Vauxhall Bridge, however, are just a little further away and are perhaps the perfect medium, offering room to breathe but lofty views. If you’re on any bridges, remember that you’ll be up against the wind blowing over icy water, so be prepared to be cold and wet.
It’s not too late to make reservations for a New Year’s Eve meal in a skyscraper, which also tends to offer a great view of the fireworks.
Parliament Hill and Hampstead Heath
Parliament Hill offers some great views, even if the spectacle is far away. However, it’s a beautiful place and there will be lots of people with their fireworks too, so you’ll be spoiled for choice. Or wonder further on Hampstead Heath, which holds itself as a refuge from the city. Looking for a pre-drink? Bull & Last is possible, although it’s very food-focused (and has a special NYE menu). The Roebuck is a solid option, as is the Magdala and The Southampton Arms, which is a fantastic venue. In the other direction, try Wells, which is a cracker (and, another night, return to eat upstairs in its excellent restaurant).
Nearest Tubes: Hampstead Tube, Hampstead Heath Overground
At 76 meters up, the top of Primrose Hill offers almost unrivaled views across London, so even before the fireworks go off, grab a flask and a bottle of champagne and enjoy London lit up. Get there early as it gets very busy. If you’re looking for somewhere to get in earlier, try Queens, or try Princess of Wales, which is a good call for later too, as it’s open until 4am. The park closes at 1 am and reopens at 6 am.
Nearest Tubes: Chalk Farm (although trains will not run from 9.30pm), Camden, Swiss Cottage
Ally Pally’s big hill is a steep incline, but the spectacular view of the skyline that awaits at the top makes the trip worthwhile. Those who have been to Bonfire Night will know that any number of other firework displays are also visible from above. There are plenty of pubs around, including the Great Northern Railway Tavern, the Phoenix Bar and Kitchen (next to the palace itself) and the Mossy Well, which is a typical tipple.
Nearest tube: Alexandra Palace
Kind of a double threat; Views from here take in the entire city skyline, but also much of east London, meaning visitors can catch every show from there too. It also happens to be a beautiful park. Plume of Feathers is nearby, and the oldest pub in the area; The Kings Arms is your basic Greene King pub but has a cracking garden if the rain isn’t too heavy.
Nearest tube: North Greenwich
It’s a fair way out, but Hilly Fields in Brockley is about 53 meters above sea level and has good views across London, especially the city. The main fireworks will look a long way off, but it’s a good spot for views of all the others across the city. Be sure to take any litter with you as there is a park run happening first thing in the morning. For a drink nearby, try the Talbot or the Ladywell Tavern.
Nearest tube: Take the train to Ladyfield, Brockley or Crofton Park