London: New Year's fun for free

By Alex Robinson
January 12, 2022
Courtesy <a href="" target="_blank">Camera Over London</a>

The British abandon their inhibitions on New Year's Eve and descend on the capital in huge numbers to party. They're joined by hundreds of thousands of tourists from the world over, who pack bars and pubs from after dark on the 31st until dawn. While many of the balls and club nights can cost over $100 just for entry, some of the most spectacular shows come without a price tag.

Fireworks on the Thames

London enters 2010 with the midnight chimes of Big Ben and a ten-minute cascade of fireworks that floods over the London Eye, bursts from boats on the Thames, and lights up the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. Some 750,000 thousand people gathered on the river banks and bridges to watch the show last year—which cost about $2.2 million—making it the biggest and most expensive New Year's firework display in the world. In the lead-up to the 2009 celebrations, there will be music from BBC Radio One's award-winning DJ Nihal. Gather on the bridges for the best views. And come early.

Clubbing at Carnivale or the Big Chill

Carnivale is a new club in Hoxton, London's most fashionable nightlife district. For the New Year it offers non-stop partying from midday on the 31st until daylight, with music ranging from vintage soul and rare groove to power ballads. If you fancy a New Year's party crawl, there are many other bustling bars and clubs nearby including the Big Chill Bar which is setting up a New Year's party shed, decorated with glittery balls, cheesy 1970s album covers and flashing laser light. Music is played by a string of nu-disco DJs, from 7 p.m.- 5 a.m., and admission is free.

Parading on New Year's Day

Britain's biggest annual procession unites more than 10,000 performers representing 20 countries parading together with traditional British marching bands and horse-drawn carriages and around 6,000 majorettes flown in from the States. The procession begins at noon on Piccadilly at the junction with Berkeley Street outside the Ritz Hotel and finishes around 3 p.m. at Parliament Street. It's free, and the best vantage point is Piccadilly or Whitehall.


Ride for free from 11:45 p.m. on the 31st until 4:30 a.m. on the 1st on the Tube (subway), Docklands Light Railway, buses, and trams.

For more on London, check out our new city page.


World's Best New Year's Eve Parties


Save up to 50% on Hotels

1 rooms, 1 guests
Keep reading

New York City: Discount tickets debut at Lincoln Center

You no longer need to own a fur coat and Rolex to join in with the Lincoln Center crowd. The famously highbrow home of a dozen cultural mainstays&mdash;including the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic&mdash;is making some big changes as it celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2009-2010. Along with a billion-dollar renovation, Lincoln Center will debut a crowd-pleasing new addition: a same-day discount ticket booth. On January 7, the Zucker Box Office opens with a special promotion of $20 tickets for 20 days. Since the full range of Lincoln Center productions participate in the program, you have a chance to get reduced-price seats to shows like Carmen at the Met; the New York City Ballet rendition of A Midsummer Night's Dream; and the Tony-winning South Pacific at the Vivian Beaumont Theater. After January 26, the booth will offer discounts of 25 to 50 percent off regular ticket prices. The Zucker Box Office works similarly to the outdoor TKTS booths for inexpensive Broadway tickets. As with TKTS, tickets are based on daily show availability and can sell out quickly. (They go on sale at noon from Tuesday to Sunday; Monday's tickets are sold on Sundays.) But unlike TKTS, Lincoln Center's box office is inside the comfort of the newly opened David Rubenstein Atrium. For the real bargain-seeker, the Atrium also offers free live music performances every Thursday at 8:30 p.m. Acts vary from jazz to classical to country to pop, so check here for the latest line-up. Going to New York City? Just back from a trip? Our New York City page lets you post questions, recommendations, photos, and browse hotels and deals&mdash;and you might hear back directly from our editors. MORE ARTS COVERAGE Alice Tully Hall Gets a Modern Makeover Video: How to Get Broadway Tickets for Less


Readers' best wildlife photos

This may be the best "Readers' Best" slide show to date. From over 1,000 submissions, we picked 20 outstanding photos&mdash;including a fabulous Florida flamingo, gorgeous butterflies in Japan, and regal-looking penguins in the Falkland Islands. Check out the images in our slide show. RECENT READER SLIDE SHOWS Rainbows | Hawaii | National Parks STILL IN SEARCH OF&hellip; We're now collecting your photos of Mexico. Upload them through myBudgetTravel, tag them, and check back in the coming weeks for slide shows of the best submissions.


New York City is America's most visited city

New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg announced on Monday that the Big Apple drew more that 45 million tourists from here and abroad in 2009, becoming the number one tourist destination in America for the first time in 20 years. The city beat out competitor Orlando, which was number one in 2008. Although tourism to New York City did drop almost four percent in 2009, it wasn't the dreaded 10 percent that officials had predicted. The statistics are from Tourism Economics, a consulting firm. Just back from New York City? Going there soon? Check out our New York City page for tips and reviews, and leave your recommendations and questions in the comment field.


Italy: An Umbrian hilltown gets a modern art space

As Rome eagerly awaits the May opening of its Zaha Hadid&ndash;designed MAXXI museum, there's a more intimate&mdash;but still spectacular&mdash;experience to be had 95 miles north, at a 5-month-old contemporary art space in the medieval hillside village of Citt&agrave; della Pieve. Collector and founder Massimo Lauro devised the idea for The Garden of Laurels, a nod to his last name and the laurels that grow on the property, in 2004. His attempts to show a conceptual work, a life-size cabin made of sourdough by Urs Fischer, in a major museum were roundly blocked, so Lauro, the son of pop-art collectors, took matters into his own hands. With his wife, Angela, he transformed his family's Umbrian winery into 7,000 square feet of galleries, sculpture gardens, and performance space. It all serves as a showcase for the Lauros' 300-piece collection of paintings, photography, and large-scale installations by artists from Roxy Paine to Dash Snow, as well as the fittingly optimistic entryway sculpture by Swiss mixed-media artist Ugo Rondinone (pictured)., free, open Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m.&ndash;6 p.m., or by appointment. From the February 2010 issue of Budget Travel.