London New Year's Day Parade: A Guide

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Photo: London New Year's Day Parade

The fireworks may have fizzled out, empties may be strewn everywhere, but the party isn't over yet. When 1 January rolls around, you could be in your bed nursing an almighty hangover OR  you could show your mettle by continuing celebrations at the New Year's Day Parade which takes place every year in central London.

What is the London New Year's Day Parade?

Every year on 1 January, while many Londoners sleep through the year's worst hangover, London's New Year's Day Parade takes place in the centre of town. It began in 1987, and had taken place every year since then until January 2021, when it was cancelled due to Covid. Between half a million to a million people (depending which source you believe) line London's streets to watch it.

Photo: London New Year's Day Parade

When is the London New Year's Day Parade?

Come on Einstein, you've got this. Luckily for you later birds, the party doesn't kick off until 1pm — time to recover from last night's antics (or go for that early morning jog that you're definitely going to do every day in the new year).

The procession usually continues until about 3.30pm.

Photo: London New Year's Day Parade

Where is the London New Year's Day Parade?

It begins at Piccadilly (right outside The Ritz, which is what you want when you're paying that much for a hotel room and sleeping off a hangover that big), heading east to Piccadilly Circus, skirts around Eros before heading south down Regent Street St James's. Then it's left down Pall Mall, a quick march past Trafalgar Square, and down Whitehall to the finish point at Westminster. The whole thing takes three hours from the first float setting off to the last one finishing. Bring snacks.

Click here for a larger version of the map

You can view a full map of the route.

*TRIVIA CLAXON*: For the first 22 years of the parade's existence, the route was the reverse of this — it was flipped in 2009. The main reason for the change was to please US TV broadcasters, whose viewers get a better view of key London landmarks.

Photo: London New Year's Day Parade

Who is involved in the London New Year's Day Parade?

Among the participants in this year's parade are:

  • All the Queen’s Horses — a group of riders recreating an historic pageant
  • Carnaval Del Pueblo — rhythm and colour from Latin America
  • London’s Chinese Community performing a traditional dragon dance
  • Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa Pipe Band — the tartan clad pipe band who always make their mark
  • Kneworld — street dancers who made it big on Britain's Got Talent
  • London School of Samba — South American music and dance
  • There will also be giant inflatable balloons of all shapes and sizes, bobbing along the route.
Photo: London New Year's Day Parade

How can I watch the London New Year's Day Parade?

Your best option is to grab a spot somewhere along the route. Stand on the pavements, or perhaps hole up at the window seat of a cafe or restaurant along the way. If you plump for the latter, check opening hours in advance, as it's a bank holiday — and be warned that the crowds get large at some points, and may block out your vantage point.

If you're feeling flush, splash out £40 on a seat in one of the many grandstands that line the route on Piccadilly, Regent Street and Whitehall— or a VIP seat on Whitehall will set you back £125 (book in advance for all seats).

Photo: London New Year's Day Parade

What else?

  • There are a couple of warm-up concerts taking place in the preceding days, allowing the bands to fine tune their performances in time for the big event. A nice idea if you've had enough of Christmas telly and want to get out of the house between Christmas and New Year. You'll need to book ahead for them.

Find out more on the London New Year's Day Parade website. Not into the banging of drums and tooting of trumpets so early in the year? Check out other things to do in London on New Year's Day.