Bring in the New Year in style
From fireworks to whirling fireballs, fiery barrels of burning tar to Viking longships, many of Britain’s New Year’s Eve celebrations bring ancient customs to life. Soak up the atmosphere and stand by for some fantastic parties! Here are a few of our favourites:
New Year’s Eve, London
Gather on the South Bank and see in the New Year with a bang! London’s New Year’s Eve celebration sees the city’s best known sights lit up with an extraordinarily grand fireworks display each year. There’s also the added benefit of being gathered near an enormous and rather famous clock — Big Ben — so there are no mistakes with the countdown.
Hogmanay, Edinburgh, Scotland
Bringing together everything from an atmospheric torchlight procession to live bands beneath Edinburgh Castle, a street party and a ceilidh, the three-day Edinburgh Hogmanay is one of the world’s best New Year’s Eve celebrations. There’s even a whole programme of events arranged for New Year’s Day, including an icy plunge into the River Forth. Brrr.
Up Helly Aa, Lerwick, Shetland Isles, Last Tuesday in January
We know, we know — it’s not on the same day as most New Year’s Eve celebrations. But, Up Helly Aa is still technically an end-of-season celebration marking the end of Yule. It’s also the biggest fire-festival in Europe, and involves huge processions of men dressed in full Viking armour carrying torches through the wintry Shetland night. Could it get any more dramatic? Yes! The torch bearers finally all throw their torches onto a Viking longship and watch it burn! A wonderfully quirky way to celebrate New Year.
The Tar Bar’l Festival, Allendale, England
Fire is a popular part of traditional New Year’s Celebrations in Britain. In Northumberland, it comes in the form of burning tar-barrels which fancy-dress-clad participants carry through the streets on their heads, before hurling them onto the bonfire in a dramatic fiery finish. Join the merrymaking and see an ancient English folk custom in action.
Red Hot Highland Fling, Inverness, Scotland
In the Highlands of Scotland, Inverness has its own version of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, only this one is absolutely free. It features bands, plenty of food and drink and as you might expect, a spectacular firework display when the clock strikes midnight.
Calennig, Cardiff, Wales
In Welsh, New Year’s Eve celebrations are known as ‘Calennig’, which means ‘first day of the month’. The biggest Calennig takes place in Cardiff each year, and combines free live music with a big firework display as the new year arrives. There’s also a fun-fair, open-air ice-skating at midnight, and open-air bus tours of the city in the first hours of the new year itself (until 2:30am).
Fireballs Festival, Stonehaven, Scotland
More fiery New Year’s Fun, this time in Aberdeenshire. See street entertainers perform followed by festival goers whirling balls of blazing fire. It looks fantastic, and leads up to a big firework display and a party in the town square. While the fireball procession is free, the town square event (which features a number of live bands) is a ticketed event, so be sure to book.
New Year’s Eve Winter Carnival, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England
See Norse god Thor, Odin’s wolves and the Black Elves at Newcastle’s Norse-themed winter carnival this year. A grand procession takes centre stage, complete with huge Viking longboats, Thor’s hammers, folk music and some expert drumming. Follow the fairy tale parade through the city to a grand finale at the Civic Centre with plenty of fireworks.