Looking for ideas and inspiration on some of the UK’s best destinations for New Year’s breaks? If so, read on to discover our top 7 best places to ring in the near year in Britain.
When it comes to the best UK destinations for New Year’s breaks, the UK’s cities such as London, Edinburgh and Cardiff with their massive firework displays take pride of place. For some though, fireworks are not their thing, and you may instead prefer to head off the beaten path to somewhere more obscure for something a bit different this New Year’s Eve. So where best in the UK to see in the New Year?
Best Places in Scotland to Ring in the New Year
Scotland is known to be the place to experience a true party vibe at New Year, and the Scots have a fondness of ‘Hogmanay’ not easily matched anywhere else in the UK. Traditionally many Scots like to visit their neighbours or close friend’s houses on New Year, dance, sing and celebrate the New Year together. For this party atmosphere on a larger scale, the city of Edinburgh has become known as the place to go.
Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Extravaganza
The city of Edinburgh is in to Hogmanay celebrations in a very big way. If you want that true party vibe with big crowds and lots of revelries, then Edinburgh is the place to be.
It’s not just one night either, in Edinburgh, New Year’s events are going on from the 29th of December through to New Year’s day, so there’s quite some build up! Many of the events are ticketed, so be sure to book your ticket for the event(s) you want to attend to avoid disappointment.
Edinburgh’s Hogmanay includes an evening with a torchlit procession, a disco night party (the night before New Year’s eve), a Concert in the Gardens, a Street Party and a candlelit concert. So when it comes to New Year’s Eve celebrations, they don’t do things by halves in Edinburgh!
For an unforgettable celebration of the New Year, Edinburgh is the place to be.
Rent a holiday home close to Edinburgh and you can enjoy the best of both worlds – time in the city and a relaxing break in the unspoilt countryside nearby.
Great Balls of Fire and Celebrations Galore at Stonehaven Fireball Festival
Experience a tradition that goes back at least 150 years at Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire at the annual Fireball Festival. Much like Flamborough’s Fire Festival, and other fire festivals in the UK, the idea of using fire is steeped in history and comes from a belief in burning away any bad spirits from the past year and welcoming in new spirits to the New Year.
At this festival you can expect to be entertained by Highland dancers whirling around in their kilt-style skirts, along with a traditional Scottish band with bagpipes and more. Tunes like Auld Lang Syne are traditionally played for New Year’s Eve where singing along and linking arms with your neighbours all adds to the atmosphere.
The procession with the balls of fire being whirled around starts at midnight and lasts around 2o to 30 minutes. The balls of fire are contained in cages for safety, and the procession comes through the High Street in the centre of Stonehaven down to harbour where the fire balls are whirled around then extinguished in the sea.
After the fireballs are put out, the festivities continue with fireworks. Remember, for the best views you have to arrive quite early; around 10ish, and this part of Scotland can get very cold so do remember to wrap up warm.
Best Places in England for a Break at New Year
Experience Allendale Tar Bar’l Fire Festival in Northumberland
A fascinating place to experience a memorable New Year’s Eve in England is to be found in Northumberland, and in the town of Allendale in particular.
There is an interesting tradition in this part of England on New Year’s Eve, where 45 men dressed in various assortments of fancy dress, carry whisky barrels filled with hot burning tar above their heads, in an impressive fire festival procession through the town of Allendale. This impressive festival has been going on for some 160 years and is part of the heritage of this part of Northumbria.
There are no tickets to this event, visitors and locals alike just flock to Allendale town centre, where there is music and dancing, and the torches and barrels are lit from 11.30pm when the procession starts. At midnight the procession with band and barrels aflame arrives in the town centre.
For a truly memorable New Year’s Eve, Allendale with its fire festival is a great choice.
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Flames and Viking Traditions at Flamborough Fire Festival
For a truly different experience, head to Flamborough in Yorkshire to experience the Viking themed New Year’s Eve Fire Festival. This area was invaded by Vikings in the 8th century and the Fire Festival brings in the New Year with a Viking style celebration.
The highlight of the festival is the burning of the ‘Viking Longship’ after the ‘ship’ is paraded around the village green. This is done to burn away old spirits from the previous year and welcome in new spirits for the New Year. Also expect fireworks, a procession with torches, and plenty of people dressed up as Vikings, including some with whirling balls of fire which they swing around their heads.
Entry is free for all children aged 15 and younger, and all adults who attend in full Viking costume. Funds raised go to charity.
Spend New Year’s day in nearby Bridlington or Filey and enjoy a relaxing day walking along one of the beautiful beaches in the area.
Find cottages for New Year's breaks in Yorkshire
Watch the Sky Light Up at London’s Fireworks Spectacular on New Year’s Eve
For the country’s most spectacular fireworks displays and for the chance to hear Big Ben ring in the New Year, London is the place to be. London’s annual fireworks display though is a ticketed event and tickets are limited and get sold far in advance. Tickets are usually released in October. If you want to experience the best views of this veritable spectacular, you’ll need to be organised and make sure you book your tickets through the official channels; usually the See Tickets website, way in advance.
If you don’t manage to buy tickets though, all is not lost, as it is possible to get a glimpse of the fireworks from other locations in London. The official ticketed areas are around the London Eye and the South Bank and those areas should be totally avoided if you don’t have a ticket as you won’t be allowed access.
For good spots to see the fireworks outside of the official ticketed areas, head down to the riverside near tube stations such as St Paul’s, Cannon Street, Mansion House or Bank.
Although atmospheric and great for views, standing outside on New Year’s eve is not for everyone. Another option is to book a River Cruise which offers views of the London fireworks, or book to have a meal in a high end London restaurant with river views where you may catch a glimpse of the festivities from the comfort and warmth of a restaurant.
For a truly memorable New Year’s eve and a magical fireworks display, London has got to be the top place to be in England. In 2022, the show was even more spectacular than before with the use of drones which truly turned the sky in to a magical display of light.
Best Places in Wales to Celebrate New Year’s Eve
Experience Welsh Traditions at Llanwrtyd Wells
For a taste of traditional Welsh celebrations at New Year’s, head for Llanwrtyd Wells. Here ancient folk customs are celebrated with a procession of torches through the town centre from the town square at 10pm. This procession is accompanied by singing traditional folk songs and following the The Mari; a decorated horse’s head on a pole which is carried by the leader. Part of the celebrations include the Welsh tradition of ‘Mari Lwyd’ with challenges and banter being given in return which stems from a tradition where those with the ‘Mari’ would try to gain entry and refreshment and go from door to door. For atmosphere and a chance to experience a slice of traditional Welsh celebrations, Llanwrtyd Wells is a fascinating place to celebrate New Year’s Eve.
Best Places in Ireland for a Break Over New Year’s Eve
Party and Celebrate in the Vibrant City of Dublin on New Year’s Eve
A popular city for stag parties and celebrations year-round, Dublin, as expected, is also a great place to be if you want to party hard on New Year’s Eve.
With a countdown open air concert (headlined by top Irish bands) at Dublin Castle, along with earlier countdown events for families, Dublin’s New Year’s Festival promises entertainment at its best.
If concerts aren’t your thing then head to the Temple Bar area with its pubs, clubs and party atmosphere. Or for something more refined, why not book a river cruise along the River Liffey?
The concerts in the heart of the city are followed by a magnificent fireworks display at midnight.
The New Year’s eve festivities are followed by a New Year’s day concert at Meeting House Square.