New Year is often a costly lacklustre anti-climax, yet we hold it in a weird reverence. We fend off our drowsiness with masochistic zeal while frittering away the dregs of December’s pay packet, because somehow the final Saturday of the year is WAY more important and worthy of our hard earned cash than any other Saturday night.
If you’d rather keep your costs down while seeing out 2011, here are the best free New Year’s Eve parties this December…
Mayor of London’s Firework Display, London
This hugely popular free fireworks display is always a remarkable spectacle. The evening will be kicked off with a live DJ set from Radio 1’s Nihal. When Big Ben’s bells have finished chiming in the New Year, the London Eye will be turned into a ginormous Catherine Wheel as fireworks are set off to music up and down the River Thames.
This event is very popular, so get there for 9pm if you want to be in with a chance of bagging a spot in the designated viewing areas. The best places to see the fireworks will be from Victoria Embankment and the bridges (Waterloo Bridge, Westminster Bridge and eastern Jubilee footbridge). If you don’t make it there in time for a prime viewing spot, head over to Trafalgar Square to see the fireworks projected live onto large screens. Alternatively pack some mulled wine in a flask and perch on the top of Primrose Hill for a panoramic view of the city and its skyline.
See here for more information.
Fire Ball Ceremony, Stonehaven
You know it’s going to be interesting when the first thing that crops up on their website is an urgent request for first aiders.
This colourful annual festival sees a parade of plucky Scots swinging balls of fire above their heads in a spectacular and daring display. The best location to see the parade is at the Shorehead/Slipway ‘Y’ junction, which is where the swingers hurl their fireballs into the sea. This popular tradition attracts swarms of tourists so it’s worth securing a spot at around 10.45-11.15pm on the night.
Visit The Stonehaven Fireballs Association website for more details.
There is arguably no better place in the UK to enjoy New Year’s Eve than Edinburgh. Wow do those Scots see out the year in style. The celebrations span several days and include events from film screenings to ceilidhs. Some events are ticketed, such as the infamous street party in Edinburgh’s town centre. Others are free, such as Friday’s torchlight procession, while the midnight firework display can be seen right across Edinburgh’s skyline. Calton Hill and Arthurs Seat are being tipped as some of the best places to view the spectacle.
Visit the Edinburgh Hogmanay website for more information.
Victoria Square Fireworks, Birmingham
Birmingham’s Victoria Square will once again play host to a free fireworks display this New Year’s Eve. In the build up to midnight, the BBC’s coverage of the Mayor of London’s Firework Display will be shown live on the Square’s large screens. Celebrations are kicking off at 11pm.
The Birmingham City Council website doesn’t give a huge amount away, but if you do want (a few) more details, take a look at their website.
Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland will be in full swing this New Year’s Eve, with ice skating, free live music at the Civic Centre and a fireworks finale. The city is operating a free bus service from 8pm until 2.30am, so you won’t need to stand around trying to flag down one of those oh so elusive New Year’s Eve taxis at the end of the night.
For more information, visit their website.
New Year’s Eve Carnival Parade, Newcastle
Newcastle will be paying homage to Viking and Norse mythology in this year’s Winter Carnival Parade. Hundreds of local residents and artists have joined forces to produce dazzling costumes and impressive dance routines, as folk music, dance and carnival decadence come together. The parade sets off at 5.15pm from Monument and finishes up at the Newcastle Civic Centre, where a fireworks finale will take place.
For all the latest, take a look at their website.
New Year’s Eve Party, Peterborough
Taking place in Cathedral Square, Peterborough, this event is co-hosted by The Clock Restaurant and BBC Radio Cambridgeshire. The new bistro will be serving celebratory drinks and hot food from 8pm onwards and the evening will close with a fireworks display at midnight.
Vist the Peterborough Council website for more information.
New Year’s Eve Fireworks, Bath
Once the Abbey Bells have signalled the start of 2012, the beautiful city of Bath will play host to a spectacular six minute firework display. Abbey Church Yard and Kingston Parade are being tipped as the best vantage spots for the spectacle.
See the Visit Bath website for more details.
Where will you be spending New Year’s Eve?