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London New Year's Tips

Old Nov 10th, 2010, 01:50 PM
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London New Year's Tips

Hello. I'm thinking of going to London with my wife for New Year's. I saw that grandstand tickets are on sale on the New Year's parade website. Are these worth buying? Any tips on where to see fireworks? Any other tips?

I'm hoping to get some good last minute hotel deals and would appreciate any help in that area, too.

Cheers.
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Old Nov 10th, 2010, 11:47 PM
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The New Year fireworks are best seen from the TV in your hotel room. London's uncertain weather makes visibility along the riverside unpredictable: its paralytically drunk crowds of revellers make getting to and from the riverside difficult, and the two combined make standing around the riverside for the several hours necessary a tossup betwen being a jolly banter with fellow revellers or a soaked, ill-tempered, jostle for space.

No idea about the New Year's Day Parade. There may be someone living within 100 miles of London who's ever seen it - but in the couple of decades central London shopkeepers have been touting this bizarre import, I've never met a single person who has.

A few Londoners go into town on New Year's Day for communal Chinese lunches. But otherwise, everyone stays at home, or goes shopping locally. This parade was invented to entice us to shop in the centre: as far as I can tell, all it does is get tourists to watch foreign bands failing to persuade us to change our habits.

As for the idea of paying for seats to watch an event no-one can bothered turning out to watch for free...
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Old Nov 11th, 2010, 04:00 AM
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Flanneruk assessment is negative but unfortunately right on the mark. The crowds are frighteningly large and made up of mostly pissed New Zealanders and London urchins. I went once only because a friend of mine lived right on the river on the South bank. You used to be able to get on Waterloo Bridge and get a very good view of the eye. I would also suggest you go to the South Bank Centre early as the public balconies also offer a good view. Things might have changed in the last 3 years though.
As for the parade, I think it is mainly made up of American high school cheerleaders and bands, which is rather strange.
Dont want to sound too negative, but better you go with a full picture of the prospective nightmare the evening could turn into.

Good luck
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Old Nov 11th, 2010, 04:43 AM
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The crowds for the fireworks always look enormous on the TV. This may explain why relatively few people turn out for the parade the following day.

If you have the get-up-and-go to go out and about on New Year's Day morning and you're around the area, the parade could be something of a diversion, but I wouldn't spend money on it.
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Old Nov 11th, 2010, 05:39 AM
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Wow. Thanks for the info. Maybe I should set my sights on another city for New Year's?
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Old Nov 11th, 2010, 06:59 AM
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"Maybe I should set my sights on another city "

You surely weren't planning to come here for a few fireworks and a parade?

New Year isn't a serious English festival. England goes into a kind of suspended animation from midday on the last working day before Xmas (this year Dec 24) to the first working day after Jan 1 (this Xmas: Jan 4). Some like the lack of people, and limited facilities, this creates in cities: others find it tiresome.

New Year itself splits the country. In London, most adults with settled domestic lives spend New Year's Eve at private parties with friends (and often their younger children). From about the age of 14 till they have settled domestic lives of their own, adolescents (a large proprtion of them the hundreds of thousnds of foreign youths here for a couple of years) take over the centre of London (and other cities) that night and party. There's all sorts of restrictions on entry to pubs and the like, and a limited amount of special (if pricey) menus in reasonable restaurants: but the tradition common in similar Continental cities of civilised parties in good restaurants is quite unusual here. Most eating places do nothing particularly special except put their prices up. Many are preoccupied with managing the marauding hordes, though they're only a real buggeration around the fireworks and in restaurants that go out of their way to attract them.

There is a third option: extraordinarily expensive dinner dances at the top couple of dozen hotels (£400/head at the Dorchester: the first I happened to check, though I think this is probably a bit more than most other 5* hotels), There really is very limited civilised public celebration of the New Year here, or anywhere else in England. I'm not aware of any significantly cheaper versions of the Dorchester-style celebrations - because like most Britons, I'm not that interested.

One conventional alternative to all this is to go away from London: mostly to one's own (or friends') country places, or to country hotels. Hotels are NOT cheap: they almost all require multi-day packages, and to be booked in advance.

The other alternative is just to accept that our way of marking the New Year is our way, and live with it. Find a decent restaurant, then go back to your hotel room with a bottle of champagne and watch the London fireworks and a Scottish hogmanay show on the box.
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Old Nov 11th, 2010, 07:53 AM
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Thanks, flanneruk. No, we weren't going to London just for fireworks and a parade, but that is the time we will have to vacation. We want to see some sights and do some shopping, but since I'm guessing almost everything is closed in New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, I don't want to spend half my vacation in a hotel room.
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Old Nov 11th, 2010, 01:49 PM
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"he crowds are frighteningly large and made up of mostly pissed New Zealanders "

That's a lie. All the Colonials are in Edinburgh on their annual trip outside central London - they are pissed though
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Old Nov 11th, 2010, 02:55 PM
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I'm going to go along with the rest. Most of the office workers are gone for the week between Christmas & the New Year, and the only ones insane enough to be in London NY Eve are those who actually live in London (vs most of the masses who work in London but commute from the burbs)and those who are in the 18 - 25 age group. There used to be massive partying going on in Trafalgar Square, along with massive arrests.

When I lived their, I lived at the end of the tube line, and we either hosted a party, went to a friend's party, or purchased well in advance tickets to a local or country pub where they had music and dancing, which always seemed to be part of every English party scene. When you're young and single, these were a LOT of fun -- but if I were in England at New Year's Eve, even though now I am not so young and am married, I would still join my friends at the local pub and make sure they purchased tickets for me and my husband.

Now, I did have friends from the periphery of London go to the Thames for the festivities for the year 2000, and they thought it a great experience. So if you don't mind the cold and if it is the same type of experience, I'd say go for it.

Otherwise, I'd suggest searching the net to find a pub close to where you'll be staying that does NY Eve celebrations, get tickets and go. That way you will indeed experience how the English (the young and young at heart) celebrate the coming of the new year.
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Old Nov 11th, 2010, 09:16 PM
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>>since I'm guessing almost everything is closed in New Year's Eve and New Year's Day
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Old Nov 11th, 2010, 10:28 PM
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"I'm guessing almost everything is closed in New Year's Eve and New Year's Day,"

What leads you to such an absurd guess?

Why do you imagine anywhere's closed on New Year's Eve?

I've told you at the beginning of this thread that shops are open on New Year's Day. So obviously are commercial paid-for attractions like Mme Tussaud's and the London Eye. New Year just isn't a serious holiday period here.
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Old Nov 12th, 2010, 02:00 AM
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In Scotland though most things are closed due to people "recovering" though many attractions will open at some point
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Old Nov 12th, 2010, 02:17 AM
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And in Scotland, it's public holiday on the 2nd as well as the 1st
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Old Nov 12th, 2010, 02:20 AM
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"What leads you to such an absurd guess?"

Did you want an answer to that question, or were you merely asking a rhetorical question to highlight what you perceive as ignorance or, better yet, stupidity? I will GUESS that you are more civil than that, so I will give you an answer. My assumption arose out of research on the internet that indicated that, although stores in main shopping areas will be open, shops in less crowded areas of the city will be closed. These smaller shops (Penhaligon's, Thomas Pink, etc.) are the shops where I intend to shop.

Furthermore, I don't want to have to shop or go to paid attractions while fighting off parade crowds, rude tourists, and hung over Kiwis.
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Old Nov 18th, 2010, 08:36 AM
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Thanks, alanRow and alihutch!
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Old Nov 18th, 2010, 03:54 PM
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Unejam, have you heard that expression "sarcasm is the lowest form of wit"?

When I lived in London, we would go to Trafalgar Sq , kiss complete strangers, kiss the police and tell them "thanks" for their work. It was fantastic--but about 40 yrs ago!! I suspect it is lots more rowdy now, so can't advise that.

Of all the recommendations, the one I'd most go with is Surfergirls to celebrate at a local pub. GREAT idea.
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