Heading out in London on New Year’s Eve is a commitment. Be prepared for crowds, potentially spending lots of cash and getting home a challenge. A main focus is the free fireworks display at midnight based around the London Eye. People crowd along the both banks of the river between Waterloo and Lambeth Bridges in designated viewing areas and wait for Big Ben to toll midnight – then ten spectacular minutes of fireworks begins.
If you’re going, leaving plenty of time to get there and find a place. Sometimes mobile phone reception fails so don’t rely on that for meeting friends, just in case. And check online for train and bus closures and changes which Transport for London inevitably make to help with crowd control. It’s not too bad but there will be road closures so some bus routes won’t be working from around five o’clock in the afternoon.
On the good side, transport is free from 11.45pm until 4.30am but it might not be an easy ride. It will be an adventure and quite likely a memorable moment in your visit to London (as the night bus often is on any day of the year!). If you can find a place to stay within walking distance of Southbank or where you’re planning to go out, grab it. If you have the stamina, just plan to stay out all night – though naturally New Year’s Day transport will be on a reduced Saturday schedule. If you want to catch a taxi make sure it’s either a black cab or a licensed minicab that you book. There are now apps you can get for booking London taxis. There are lots of warnings about getting into unlicensed cabs in London and they’re worth heeding.
The fireworks will also be shown on big screens in Trafalgar Square – a fab place to welcome the new year, but also likely to be crowded. For those nervous of the crowds and transport challenges, the BBC screens the fireworks live, so you can have a party and watch from wherever you happen to be.