Five places to see the Thames Fireworks

Marc Burrows, December 2017

London’s biggest and best value New Year’s party is open to everyone! For years it’s been traditional to see in the New Year by taking to the streets of London; The Beatles famously saw in 1962 in Trafalgar Square (probably the last new year they were able to go out in public without being mobbed!)

Since the year 2000 New Year’s Eve has been celebrated with a huge fireworks display on the Thames, which is best seen from the South Bank. There are tons of ways to watch the display, ranging from braving the cold and the crowd, to a snug private hotel room. The 2017 display will be extra special as Big Ben, which has been silenced for most of the year for repairs, will be ringing in the New Year.

Watch from the crowd
Arguably the best way to see the fireworks and greet the New Year, is in the crowd on the riverbank. The atmosphere is second to none, and the views are guaranteed. You can buy tickets for £10 and there’s viewing areas along the Thames, and on Westminster and Waterloo bridges.

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Get a private hotel room
If you don’t fancy rubbing shoulders (quite literally) with a large crowd, then why not go to the opposite extreme? The Park Plaza London Riverbank, Westminster Bridge and County Hall hotels both offer various options, including balcony views, to watch the fireworks from the warmth and comfort of a private room. Order in a bottle of champagne and enjoy first class views. And best of all, the weather can’t spoil your enjoyment!

Go vintage clubbing
For the sixth year in a row the Royal Festival Hall will be transforming itself into a spectacular five-floor vintage extravaganza celebrating the 1920, 30s and 40s. Hair and beauty salons prep you for a glitzy night, with seven vintage-themed bars a big-band orchestra, dance lessons and cabaret. What’s more you can see the fireworks from the spacious RFH balcony. Tickets range from £79-£119 depending on how early you book.

Have dinner at the Shard
It goes without saying that the UK’s tallest building offers unparalleled views of the official fireworks, and indeed every other fireworks display in the city. Both the exquisite Chinese restaurant Hutong, on the 33rd floor, and the more traditional cocktails-and-dinner of Aqua Shard on the 31st floor are offering NYE packages. Neither come cheap, you’re looking at around £350 each for dinner, and £150 just to be in the bar, but both have an exceptional reputation, and of course that view is priceless.

Watch for free
The views aren’t guaranteed, but the atmosphere certainly is. If you’d rather bring the party back to street level, but resent playing the £10 the Mayor of London is asking for, there are places where the display is perfectly visible and no-one will charge you a penny. On the north bank of the river the area around St Paul’s Cathedral and Cannon Street is outside of the ticketed zone, and has prime views. Various bridges along the river have great views too, especially Tower Bridge and the Jubilee Bridge, but be warned – they fill up VERY quickly.

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