Fireworks and festivals, parades and parties; the British love to celebrate and there’s no better time to do so than when welcoming in the New Year. Ring in 2014 in memorable style with these New Year event highlights.
The iconic London Eye once again takes centre stage in the capital’s New Year’s Eve celebrations, with a spectacular fireworks display confirmed to take place from the foot of the Eye and from rafts on the Thames as the clock strikes midnight. The crowds will gather along the River Thames to watch this enviable display, with great views afforded from Westminster Bridge, Waterloo Bridge and along the South Bank. While you’re down on the South Bank you might want to check out the Southbank Centre’s Winter Festival, which continues until 10 January and includes festive markets stretching along the riverside as well as performances and art exhibitions in its galleries and theatres.
Famed for its spectacular New Year’s Eve street party celebrations, the Scottish capital’s Hogmanay is so much more; a four-day festival of music, street performers, fireworks, a torchlight procession and even a mini triathlon on New Year’s Day for those looking to clear their heads from the previous night’s celebrations! St Giles’ Cathedral on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile will host a candlelit concert while the Concert in the Gardens sees top bands play against the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle – this year’s headliners are the Pet Shop Boys – culminating in the outstanding fireworks display at midnight. A perfect ending to 2013.
A funfair followed by fireworks – what could be more festive? The Welsh capital welcomes the New Year with a grand firework display at its Calennig Midnight celebrations (calennig being the Welsh word for New Year celebration). As part of the city’s Winter Wonderland, warm up with mulled wine served at the city’s festive market and enjoy a skate on the outdoor ice rink before watching the fireworks.
NewcastleGateshead, north-east England
NewcastleGateshead presents one of the region’s biggest events in its New Year’s Eve Winter Carnival.
Based on Norse folklore, visitors to this year’s carnival parade can meet Thor and the Black Elves, Odin’s wolves and hear Spark drummers, whose hypnotic rhythms are designed to ‘summon other strange beasts’, all while blazing torches wind their way through the streets. Join in traditional music, dance and carnival performances as well as a New Year’s Eve firework finale.
Allendale Tar Bar’l Ceremony, Northumberland, north-east England
Less than an hour’s drive from Newcastle, the charming town of Allendale hosts an annual New Year’s fire festival, where local townsmen, wearing Pagan costumes and chanting, march towards a ceremonial bonfire carrying whiskey barrels filled with burning tar. On reaching the bonfire they toss the barrels into the bonfires, making the fire truly burn!
Stonehaven Fireball Festival, Aberdeenshire, north Scotland
Not one to try yourself but an amazing spectacle to witness, the Stonehaven Fireball Festival – close to Aberdeen and a two-hour drive from Edinburgh – sees around 45-50 townspeople parade along the Old Town’s high street swinging fireballs around their heads, illuminating the night sky in a dramatic style.
New Year’s Day Celebrations
Hyde Park Serpentine Runs, London
Sweep aside any fatigue from last night’s partying and join in the 3k Fun Run at midday on 1 January (or watch and cheer the 10K race starting an hour earlier!) in London’s Hyde Park. Finishing up at the new Boathouse on Serpentine Lake, participants can head to Winter Wonderland after to celebrate their run.
New Year’s Day Parade, London
The New Year’s Day Parade in London has evolved into one of the world’s great street pageants, with up to 10,000 performers from across the world and boasting a street-side audience approaching 500,000. The 2014 Parade will be filled with marching bands, cheerleaders, clowns, acrobats, kites and much more.
Loony Dook, Queensferry, Scotland
A perfect launch to Homecoming Scotland 2014, Loony Dook – the annual splash in the River Forth – will take place on New Year’s Day. Just a half-hour drive from Edinburgh, this event is for charity, and you can either take part in the Dooker Parade and finish up with a dip in the Forth, or take the warmer option and cheer on the participants!
While the January sales now start as early as Boxing Day (December 26) the first day of the new year marks the traditional time when some of Britain’s best shopping spots offer fantastic discounts. Time for a shopping spree!
London is, of course, unmissable during sales season. Some of the biggest names, including Harrods, Selfridges and Liberty see anything between 30-75% knocked off some of the fabulous luxury goods in store. All major stores along the shopping paradises of Oxford Street and Regent Street will be displaying that big red sales sign too.
Other major cities in Britain are also packed with purse-friendly savings during January. In England’s north west, Manchester’schic King Street is home to designer stores such as Vivienne Westwood and DKNY, while the city’s Northern Quarter is packed with hip shops and vintage boutiques. While over on England’s north eastern side, take advantage of the discounted sales prices at Leeds’ Victoria Quarter – housed in elegant Grade II-listed buildings – where designers such as Paul Smith, Louis Vuitton and Reiss sit alongside the city’s Harvey Nichols.
Up to Scotland, and Glasgow’s Style Mile is just that! A mile of big discounts at major high-street stores while bargain hunters can search out designer goods in the Merchant City area. And Wales’ capital, Cardiff is a shopping haven, with great discounts to be found in its St David’s shopping centre.
This post is by Visit Britain.