With attractions like Big Ben and Piccadilly Circus, there are many interesting ways to spend New Year's Eve in London with your children. The metropolitan city boasts a population of about 8 million, and with so many options for ringing in the new year, family-friendly choices can be either very inexpensive or free.
1. Outdoor Fireworks
Take your family to one of the designated viewing areas along the river Thames, making sure to arrive a few hours before midnight to get a spot. Once each viewing area is full, access to it will be closed and you'll have to find someplace else to watch the fireworks be lit from the EDF Energy London Eye. Getting there is relatively simple, with the London Underground being the easiest and most affordable option.
2. Skating and Winter Activities
The outdoor ice rink at the Tower of London opens in mid-November and offers families an active way to ring in the new year. Using the frozen moat as the skating surface, the rink is surrounded by fortress battlements and is illuminated at night. There is a charge to skate, but family tickets are available, as are ice guides -- trained professionals to help make your skating trip a safer and more enjoyable experience. The rink is also wheelchair accessible. Tickets can easily be bought online. Hyde Park, one of London's largest parks, decorates its grounds in a Winter Wonderland theme and is a very affordable option for spending New Year's Eve with your family. It contains the largest outdoor skating rink in the United Kingdom, Christmas markets, two circuses and ice sculptures. Being at Hyde Park on New Year's Eve is an affordable choice, as entry is free. However, activities such as entering the Magical Ice Kingdom do cost.
Southbank Centre near Waterloo and Embankment Underground stations offers a "Vintage New Year's Eve Party" where families can enjoy fine dining, live DJs, a fireworks display and dancing. For families with younger children and an earlier bedtime, the Barbican has a Viennese-styled New Year's Gala beginning in the early evening, with an even earlier daytime gala for those who opt for it. The Barbican is within walking distance of Farringdon, St. Paul's and Barbican Underground stops and Old Street and Moorgate Overgrand stations.
4. Medieval Banquet
If you find spending time outside with your children is too chilly for you, ringing in the new year at the Medieval Banquet London is a warm and entertaining option. Your family can enjoy a two-hour show while you eat a five-course dinner, with the show including fighting knights, acrobats, jugglers and contortionists. The banquet location is a short walk away from both the Tower Bridge and Tower of London, or parking is available if you decide to rent a car.
- London Higher: London's Population
- Visit London: Mayor's New Year's Eve Fireworks Display
- Ice at the Tower: Skate at the Tower of London
- Time Out London: Hyde Park Winter Wonderland 2012
- The Medieval Banquet London: New Years Banquet 2012
- Southbank Centre: Archived- A Vintage New Year's Eve Party
- Barbican: Viennese New Years Eve Gala
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