The last few weeks of the year is always a rollercoaster no matter where you live. You have Christmas and New Year’s within the same week, people are rushing around buying Christmas presents or spending Christmas money, and others are travelling to visit family and friends. It can be a bit intimidating trying to manoeuvre through your plans and decide how to spend the new year, especially in a foreign country. Personally, I felt the need to stay in the UK over the holidays instead of going home, so I found myself looking for ways to celebrate with my new friends over here in the UK.
New Year’s Eve in the UK is celebrated in a similar fashion to the United States. Many people enjoy getting dressed up and going out. One of the biggest New Year’s celebration happens in London: every year they have a firework display at the Houses of Parliament (with Big Ben!). The important thing to know, however, is that you are required to purchase tickets in order to attend, as there is limited space. Tickets go on sale around October, and this year they cost £10 a person. They have a limited number of tickets, so once they are sold out, there isn’t another way to attend the festivities, so purchase early! The tickets were available to purchase on the Mayor of London’s website.
If you are like me and do not enjoy being a part of a massive crowd of people, there are plenty of clubs and pubs that are open on New Year’s Eve for you to visit. You can also watch the London fireworks display live on TV if you plan on staying in.
Not only is there the famous Capital City fireworks, it is also common for there to be a fireworks (lage or small) across the country. I live in the town of Reading, and the town provided a firework display at the Madjeski Stadium. Since it was so close, I was able to see the fireworks from my flat.
I come from Arizona, where it is perpetually dry. Until the last couple of years, it was illegal for private citizens to have fireworks. We were basically allowed poppers and sparklers. Fireworks are not illegal in the UK, so in addition to the fireworks being set off at the stadium, I was able to enjoy some fireworks a little closer. I ended up walking around the town center and enjoying the many different types of celebrations going on from the people dancing in the clubs, to the people setting off fireworks, to the people who were out hugging random strangers. And because Christmas was just a week previous, many stores have Christmas crackers for almost half the regular retail price, and why not purchase them as a little accessory to your New Year party!
I was informed by a local friend that a popular “game” on New Year’s Eve is to try to kiss a cop. Personally, I didn’t see a large number of policemen walking around to see if that tradition is still holding true, but I also felt that was one pastime that I didn’t feel like attempting – it’s not a game for everyone!
Although spending New Year’s away from the family can be difficult, there are plenty of options out there to enjoy the night. If you would like to find out more about studying in the UK, please contact one of The Across The Pond Advisors.