London New Year's Day Parade: A Guide

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Dancers in red costumes take part in the parade
Show your mettle by continuing celebrations at the New Year's Day Parade. 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 first (and worst) hangover, London's New Year's Day Parade takes place in the centre of town. It began in 1987, and has 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.

When is the London New Year's Day Parade?

A band in green and gold military-style uniforms play trumpets and other wind instruments
Photo: 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 noon — 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 continues until about 3.30pm.

Where is the London New Year's Day Parade?

Pearly Kings and Queens posing at the New Year's Day Parade
Photo: 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), heads east to Piccadilly Circus, skirts around Eros before flowing south down Regent Street St James's. Then it's left down Pall Mall, a quick march past Trafalgar Square, and along 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.

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.

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

An anamatronic dinosaur puppet interacting with members of the public behind a barrier
Photo: 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
  • Pop rock group Scouting For Girls, and rock band Toploader
  • Four 25ft-high giant inflatable balloons of all shapes and sizes, bobbing along the route, including one shaped like a phone box

As well as representatives from some London boroughs, and Aston Martin and Mini owners' clubs.

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

A Chinese style lion dance taking place in front of a grandstand seating area
Photo: 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, you can splash out on tickets for a seat in the grandstands. Most have sold out now, though resales were available for £53 each when we checked, and VIP tickets for the grandstands on Whitehall are still available for £145 a pop.

What else?

A hand holding a coffee cup and a small LNYDP London flag
Photo: under a Creative Commons license
  • 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.