London’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display is iconic. Beginning at midnight and lasting up to 15 minutes in length, the London Eye and Big Ben combine to spiral fireworks high into the sky above the Westminster area, turning the riverside sky into a riot of color. It’s a can’t-miss extravaganza in the heart of London.
Yet due to the large crowds that congest the riverside during the day, there are plenty of visitors who will miss the annual display. To ensure you’re not one of the unlucky ones, here are our suggestions for alternative ways to watch the capital’s fireworks show.
Get up high
London boasts more than its fair share of sky-high drinking venues, from the simply named London Sky Bar to the lesser-known Cannon Bridge Roof Gardens. But there are few with the required blend of central proximity and towering stature to make them suitable vantage points for the New Year’s Eve light show.
The best of this bunch is Paramount. Located in Centre Point in West End, the bar and restaurant spaces sit between the 31st and 33rd floors, offering clear, 360-degree vistas across Westminster and far beyond. Best of all, the venue always puts on an incredible black tie party. This year, the bash begins at 7 p.m. in the viewing gallery on the 33rd floor, with a champagne and canapé reception (accompanied by a string quartet), followed by a five-course meal (think fried monkfish and watercress risotto or herb roasted filet of venison) with unlimited wine, champagne and spirits until midnight. After the midnight fireworks, a DJ will spin tunes until the wee hours of 2014, too. You can reserve your place on the Paramount site.
Get on the water
Watch any footage of London’s New Year’s Eve fireworks and you’ll spot a long line of ships stretching right into the distance. These are river cruise boats, offering their passengers uninterrupted scapes of the show plus enjoyable evenings on the River Thames. There are many different cruises to choose from, but our favorite New Year’s package is Golden Line’s Meteor Clipper cruise. The cruise starts at 7 p.m. at Brew Wharf Yard with a welcome drink, followed by a three-course dinner at Brew Wharf’s Vinopolis restaurant with options such as cod and parsley fish cakes or aubergine and mozzarella tortelloni. At 10 p.m., passengers will board the ship for a three-hour cruise of central London, including a glass of champagne at midnight, just as the first fireworks shoot up into the sky. You can book your spot online here.
Fancy a greener vantage point? Every year, crowds gather in the central Royal Parks — particularly St. James’s Park, Green Park and Hyde Park — to watch the fireworks without having to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in a crowd. Yet perhaps the very best green spot to watch the light show in London is Primrose Hill. Although located a little more than four miles from the London Eye, the hill boasts spectacular panoramic sights down to the river and beyond, so it’s a great viewpoint to see the entire skyline light up without having to strain your neck. Plus, you can take along your own bottle of bubbly to toast the year ahead, too.
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