Brimming with vibrant colour, noise and fun every January 1st, London’s New Year’s Day Parade is the way to enliven the potentially cold and drab afternoon after the celebratory night before and welcome 2019 in romping style, all right. And, should you be in the capital for the New Year (perhaps having chosen for your stay a room or suite at the likes of the Grand Park London Hyde Park hotel) it’ll definitely be a very ‘London’ event to make the centrepiece of your trip.
Not least because the parade will involve the combined efforts of every one of the capital’s 32 boroughs to stage an awesome day of spectacle; featuring, as it does, not just representatives from all the boroughs but also performers drawn from every corner of the world, as the thing stretches along a number of the most famous thoroughfares of the West End. And that should be no surprise, actually, with the event set to feature more than 10,000 performers of every kind – dancers, cheerleaders, acrobats and marching bands (while historic vehicles’ll be involved too) – all of them entertaining the 600,000 spectators expected to turn out with music, dance, a cornucopia of confetti and a barrage of balloons.
What to expect
So, should you decide to pop along to the parade, look out for performers and more, including:
- musicians and dancers providing a Latin beat from South London’s summertime Carnaval del Pueblo; Asian rhythms courtesy of the London School of Dohl; trumpet-driven tunes from the Kimbanguist Brass Band; the unmistakeably pink-attired Cotton Candies Marching Krewe from the United States; Varsity Spirit’s cheerleaders; the Desert Mountain High School Marching Band and Pandemonium Drummers
- the irrepressible and eccentric, not to mention totally London-centric and sequins-clad Pearly Kings and Queens (an East End charitable organisation that dates back 150 years)
- a verily marvellous collection of vehicles old and new, big and small – from iconic British Minis and Aston Martins to small-but-perfectly-formed electric cars that’ll be able to deliver you a self-driven guided tour of the city
- utterly iconic London objects in the form of balloons, such as black taxi cabs and red telephone boxes, filling the sky above the parade and floating along the route with all the performers and everything else.
What you need to know
Kicking-off at 12noon, sharp, on January 1st, the parade follows a time-honoured route through the West End and into Westminster, the heart of London’s – and the UK’s – political power (the thing concludes in Parliament Street). And, being a major public parade, you’re entirely welcome to trot along to the parade route on the day (perhaps after enjoying, say, a hearty breakfast around Paddington-way) and watch the thing for free. That said, though, to get more than a glimpse and truly witness all that unfolds before you, you’re advised to purchase – affordable – grandstand tickets for you and yours.
Depending where you’ll be making your base during your Holidays stay in the capital, you’ll no doubt be relying on public transport to find your way to the parade. So, it’d be very good idea to use the ever reliable London Underground (Tube) – the best stations to travel to for decent viewing spots on the route are Westminster (Jubilee and District and Circle lines), Piccadilly Circus (Piccadilly and Bakerloo lines) and Charing Cross (Bakerloo line). Alternatively, Embankment (Bakerloo, Northern and District and Circle lines), St. James’s Park (District and Circle lines) and Green Park stations (Jubilee, Piccadilly and Victoria) shouldn’t require too much of a stroll to the parade route.