New Years in London

Oct 3rd, 2003, 06:25 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2003
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New Years in London

We are going to be in London over New Year and New Years eve. We have three children. Is there anything special that we should see, or any big attractions like Museums that are open those days that we should schedule.
Pete2 is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2003, 06:52 PM
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Unless they are afraid of heights, take them up on the London Eye at night. Awesome and the kids loved it. Best thing we did, next to climbing to the top of St Paul's (oh yeah, that was fun -- my legs were shaking for 10 minutes).

We took our 3 kids last year, 14, 11 and 8. They liked the British museum for the Egyptian collection (and the tea and crumpets we had at the top floor restaurant that most folks don't seem to know about; not as crowded as ground floor eatery). they liked the library in the center of the enclosed courtyard -- very cool.

then there is the National Gallery in Tralfagar Sq. Also you should stop in St. Martins in the Fields next door. If you time it right, you might catch the choir practice or evensong.

If you can get into Westminster Abbey, it is worth a brief visit. During services is the best time. you might hear a song or two. we heard Christmas carols on Christmas eve last year.

Never mind the museums. Take a few cross-town bus rides on double-decker buses. Sit up top in the front (wait for an empty one). We had more fun than we expected. Skip the IMperial War Museum. Boring. The James Bond Exhibit was mildly interesting, but mostly to my teenage son.

Virtually every place has a website. If you cant find out about opening times (if you are after Boxing Day, you should be fine), check with your hotel (email them). A good concierge will know. Ours picked up the phone and called us Stateside to answer my questions.
Avoid Trafalgar Square on New Year's eve (like our Times Square in NY). Best kept secret -- Courtauld Gallery at Somerset House (absolutely fabulous collection of some of the best Impressionist pieces and one day a week it is free). Also should be an outdoor skating rink there. A bit pricey, but fun.

they loved Madame Tussaud's (yes, I know it's tacky, but we're talking kids here). they also really liked the Sherlock Holmes museum a few blocks north. they tried on his hat, and acted out a scene in front of the fireplace forever caught on video. they bought more souvenirs there than anywhere else. actually, I think they liked Madame Tussaud's better than the Tower of London.

They also enjoyed shopping at Notting Hill's street market. If you are there on a Saturday, it is a must for girls. also really good fish and chip stalls.
urophil is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2003, 07:05 PM
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the bus that runs across town is the #11 from Liverpool St Station and one that runs aong the south side of Hyde Park is #14. your daily tube pass covers buses, too.
urophil is offline  
Oct 4th, 2003, 12:27 PM
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To be perfectly honest, there are very few special New Years events in London for visitors with families. London's observance of the Millenium New Year set very high expectations, but the city has yet to follow-up on those on other New Years.

The traditional gathering place is Trafalgar Square--sort of like New York's Times Square on New Years eve, but with perhaps more drinking by the attendees. Crowds also gather near Big Ben to hear the chimes ring in the new year (that would be my choice over Trafalgar, but you may still find crowds and "bar stumblers" to be present).

There are also commercially-sponsored parties and dinner cruises...but these really don't attract many families with three children.

One exception is the New Years Day parade in London. This event features marching bands (many American, in fact) and is a big draw for families. For info:

I hope this is helpful.

David White
[email protected]
KidsToLondon is offline  
Oct 5th, 2003, 07:45 PM
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Regards Trafalgar Square on New Years. Was in London last New Years Eve and nothing was happening. Traflagar Square had been roped off with police warning folks to stay away. In part this had to do with an ongoing reconstruction of the square but more with Mayor "Red" vingstone's purposefully toning down New Years celebration. Actually rather than the square the focal point normally is by Big Ben (or really the tower that Big Ben, the huge bell, is in). Police had set up barricades there but no one really showed up. The fact that central London was dead on New Years Eve was an embarrasment to London officials as there was a torrent of criticism in the press the next day, comparing London's lack of New year's hubris with those lively gatherings in many of Europe's cities, or even in Britain's Edinburgh, the places to be on new Years in the U.k. The outrage was sufficient so that many this year Traflagar Square or Big Ben will once again be hopping, but don't count on it. Oh and for the ballyhooed New Years Day parad on Jan 1, inaguarated in recent years, one newspaper headlines said that about five people watched it. Many American high school bands were invited, in fact paying their own way, but no one showed up to watch it! A big flop.
PalenqueBob is offline  
Oct 6th, 2003, 01:04 AM
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By New Year's Day most Londoners are either skint or exhausted from Christmas with the family, or getting over a hangover from a private party on New Year's Eve, or away on a short break somewhere else. We don't really do mass public festivities outdoors in the winter, for obvious reasons. If the weather is at least dry, New Year's Day is a good one for a long-ish walk through the parks or somewhere like Hampstead Heath, Richmond Park or Wimbledon Common.

If you want to go out for New Year's Eve celebrations, you may find that a lot of restaurants and even pubs require prior booking - worth asking in advance if there's anywhere in particular you want to go.

One thing you might want to try to take the children to is a pantomime - a uniquely British winter theatrical, loosely based on nursery tales, with lots of nonsense and audience participation. I'm not entirely sure when the season starts, and there is much debate every year about which is the most traditional in style, or the most tacky. Worth watching the newspaper websites for reviews and articles on the topic, or
PatrickLondon is online now  
Oct 8th, 2003, 09:20 AM
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To PalenqueBob.

I think you will find that it was Mayor Livingstone who was actually trying to raise and promote the profile of London at New Years. He had massive plans for both 2001 and 2002 celebrations. He was foiled by both London Underground, who refused to allow 24 hour running of the Tube and the police who with out 24 hour running of the tubes wouldn?t police the resultant pissed and stranded crowds.
This left over £300K worth of fireworks which he had ordered (with my council tax) standard somewhere in the South china sea!
Since then its been a bit of a disappointment, but people in the UK see Xmas and New years as a time for family and friends so attend private parties. We don?t go in for mass shows of public celebration.
JimSteel is offline  
Nov 15th, 2003, 03:38 AM
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I'm going to be in London during New Year's...I can't believe I'm going to miss the New Year's Eve festivities at home. Any news of a possible celebration underway?
karisiera is offline  
Nov 17th, 2003, 07:00 AM
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Open on New Year's day (what I've collected so far, I'll be there myself)

Changing of the Horseguards
Courtauld Gallery
Museum of London
Globe Theatre
elaine is offline  
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