Seen as this year’s New Year’s Eve is a complete washout, I thought I would revisit one of my most memorable New Years I had in London a couple of years ago. It is certainly the one I remember the most, not necessarily because of how amazing it was, but the entire evening’s events were lets say eventful! That’s not to say it wasn’t a fantastic night, let me explain all.
I had been wanting to go to the spectacular London NYE firework display forever. Watching it almost every year on the TV with my family was great, but I always craved to be there in person, experience the atmosphere and see how it all plays out. So in 2018, some advance planning (it is definitely needed for this event!) made this come true. First of all, as I live in Yorkshire, I needed a hotel for the evening. Now I am not one to pay a lot for hotels, when I travel somewhere I usually spend a minimal amount of time in the room and out the entire day, so a decent enough price for a good standard and a comfortable bed, and I am happy! With this being the case for the New Years Eve trip (we would only use the room to sleep), I looked for cheapness and booked a Travelodge in West London as I knew the 24 hour free tube service would easily take us there, even in the early hours of the morning, this seemed no problem!
We headed down to London on the 31st and used our time in the capital to the maximum by zooming around many sights and museums. Once the evening got closer we made our way to the entrance for our viewing point. If you don’t know already, London’s New Year extravaganza became increasingly popular and to combat crowds, there is now a charge to stand in the main viewing points around the River Thames. I had managed to get tickets for directly opposite the London Eye, the best spot in my opinion as this is where the cameras are positioned to capture all the action. Placing ourselves as strategically as possible we stood in a spot fairly close to the nearby embankment tube station so as soon as the fireworks finished we could get straight on the tube, avoid the crowds and be back in our hotel!
The show was amazing, we had an awesome spot, there were many internationals around us, which just added to the atmosphere. There was a DJ that kept us entertained in the cold till midnight, Big Ben chimed, the night sky was filled with fireworks and there was the traditional Auld lang syne playing loudly through the speakers. Then that was it, like our plan we headed straight to the embankment station which we could clearly see, only to be directed north towards a sea full of people heading up to Trafalgar Square. The amount of people was unbelievable, I have been to some large events in my time, but this was crazy. The diversion took us around about 8 streets along a mile long route before we finally reached the station which we were stood next to all evening. I see that the police and event organisers were obviously trying to split the crowd up so everybody didn’t head to one station, however, we certainly didn’t expect it, maybe I didn’t research enough!
Once we reached our target of embankment station, there was already a theme park style queue, zig zagging up and down, with the organisers letting in a few people at a time. Not long after we had been waiting our turn, the shutters were pulled down on the station and we were left standing in the cold for around 30-45 minutes. We had no information of what was going on in this time, so we just had to patiently wait for something to happen. It was after this time, in which still nothing had changed, that I saw on twitter that our station had been closed because of overcrowding. We made the decision to leave the queue as we could have been waiting all night.
It was now approaching 2am, which was a shock as we thought we would have been back at the hotel asleep by now! But instead we were roaming the now very empty streets of London for another tube station. The closest was Westminster so after dragging our very tired feet half a mile or so (but it felt a lot longer!) across London, we were presented with another closed station too! By this time, our legs were drained after a whole day of sightseeing, we were moving on energy that I had no idea where it was coming from. We eventually wandered through a now deserted London and reached the small St. James Park station, which was completely empty, and finally got on the tube to take us back to our hotel. The journey was not very pleasant with hundreds crammed into the small Piccadilly line trains, but we reached our hotel after 3am and hit the pillow straight away.
Overall, it was actually amazing to be there in person at one of the biggest New Years Eve events in the world, something I will remember forever. But with the travel chaos we had afterwards it is probably something I wont do again, or if I did, I will definitely book a hotel in central London. That is my biggest tip, if anyone is thinking of heading to the London event in future, book a hotel as close to the centre as possible, it is worth the extra money! We made the mistake so you don’t have to!
Check out more posts from my Travels!
New York City – Amazing views, Attractions & Central Park
Paris – Eiffel Tower, Lovre & Arc de Triomphe in One Evening!
London – Sky Garden, One of London’s best kept secrets