See in 2013 in style
New Year’s Eve – some people like to celebrate it quietly with friends or family, while others like to party till dawn. But whatever your party style, come 31 December the whole country will come alive with events, festivals and parties to celebrate the end of a huge year for England, and there’s bound to be something right up your street.
From fireworks to banquets and from old Norse traditions to power kiting, VisitEngland rounds up some of the top activities for New Year’s Eve…
The bright lights of the capital
Gather on the South Bank and see in the New Year with a bang! London’s New Year’s Eve celebrations see the city’s best known sights lit up with an impressive fireworks display. From the river’s edge you’ll see the colours reflected in the water of the River Thames, while Big Ben ensures noone misses the all-important countdown. For those that prefer to keep out of the cold, Park Plaza County Hall is auctioning off a party package to the highest bidder. A 75m² suite with panoramic penthouse views across London comes stocked with Champagne and canapés to whoever bids the highest. Bids should be sent to email@example.com before 15:00 on 19 December.
All too often, the build up to New Year’s Eve and pressure to have the best night of the year means leaves you feeling deflated when it eventually arrives. Make sure your evening lives up to those Great Expectations by celebrating in the very house where Charles Dickens used to holiday. Bleak House in Broadstairs, Kent, is holding a black tie dinner and dance on 31st December. The evening costs £99 per person and includes a Champagne reception, five-course dinner, cabaret and a fantastic fireworks display on the terrace with stunning views over Viking Bay. What better way to end 2012, the year which marked the bicentenary of the author’s birth.
Take to the skies
See in the New Year from 1,000 feet in the air! Power kite off Soar Mill Cove in Devon and fly across the horizon, harnessing the power of the wind. Soar Mill Cove Hotel is just minutes from a private beach in South Devon and has stunning views of the sea. Two nights’ Dinner Bed and Breakfast, a full entertainment package and power kiting costs £399 per person.
Roll back the centuries
See an ancient English folk custom in action at the Tar Bar’l Festival in Northumberland. Watch the crowds gather in fancy dress on the streets whilst carrying burning tar filled whisky barrels on their heads. The parade ends in the centre of the town as the barrels are thrown onto a bonfire with the cry of “be damned to he who throws last!.” The procession is thought to be an ancient pagan tradition of fire worship.
Alternatively, head to the North East and see Norse god Thor, Odin’s wolves and the Black Elves at Newcastle’s Norse-themed winter carnival. A grand procession takes centre stage, complete with huge Viking longboats, Thor’s hammers, folk music and some expert drumming. Follow the fairy tale parade from Monument, through the city to a grand finale at the Civic Centre with plenty of fireworks.
Get your glad rags on
If dressing up is your thing, there’s plenty to choose from on New Year’s Eve, especially on the south coast. Weymouth is host to Dorset’s biggest outdoor fancy dress party. It’s forbidden to come with costume excuses – people really go to town for this one and more is definitely more. Start in the main square to get warmed up with beer tents and hot-dog stands, before making your way over to the Jubilee Clock for midnight and finally hitting the beach to party into the early hours. Meanwhile, St Ives in Cornwall closes its streets whilst people in fancy dress get merry. At the stroke of midnight, the bells ring, the fireworks begin and – if the tide is out – the party continues on the beach. Likewise, every year thousands of party animals in Bideford in Devon don the silliest costume they can find to party alongside street entertainers to live music on the quayside. As midnight approaches, everyone gathers near the medieval Long Bridge waiting for the church bells to ring in the New Year.
If your head’s a little sore on the first of January then a raft race and bridge jump could be just the thing to sober you up. Head over to Mapleton in Derbyshire on New Year’s Day and sign up for the annual competition which sees competitors paddling half a mile downstream and then jumping off a 30 foot bridge into the freezing cold waters of the river Dove – one of the coldest rivers in the country. Hundreds come along to watch and afterwards head off to the local pubs for hair of the dog.