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The UK’s best New Year events

Got your plans for New Year set in stone? Or are you one of the many who still hasn’t quite decided what to get up to on the big day? Here at Europcar, we’ve always got one eye on the next big event, hence why we’ve drawn up a guide to some of the best New Year celebrations across the UK.

From fancy dress madness in the South West of England, to the world’s largest outdoor ceilidh in the heart of the Scottish capital, we’ve got you covered. So sit back, read our guide and start plotting your New Year excursion. And remember, these top destinations are only ever a car hire away

 

Live it up in Manchester

Image by Stacey MacNaught
Image by Stacey MacNaught

Let’s be honest, you don’t really ever need an excuse to visit Manchester. This vibrant bastion of the north has many a string to its bow, from world class shopping facilities to top restaurants, awesome live music venues and a hatful of galleries, museums and theatres.

It may therefore come as little surprise to you that it also happens to be a rather enjoyable place to see in the New Year. The city’s fireworks display will be launched from Piccadilly Gardens, right next to the brand new, 60 meter tall ‘Wheel of Manchester’ ride which is due to open for the first time on the 31st. Entry to the fireworks viewing area is free.

Spending a few days in the city? If so, take the opportunity to travel further afield. Roughly 30 miles separate Manchester and Liverpool, meaning you can easily hop on a train and explore Merseyside. Make the most of your visit by booking a car hire in Liverpool and touring the surrounding areas – check out our Outsider’s Guide to Liverpool for some top tips!

Cauldron of fire in Northumberland

Image by Akuppa John Wigham
Image by Akuppa John Wigham

What about those of us who don’t feel like partying it up in the big cities, we hear you ask? Well, how about taking in the New Year’s celebrations in Allendale? Not only has this adorable Northumberland village twice been named England’s Village of the Year, but it is also home to one of the UK’s most unique New Year celebrations.

The Tar Barrel event comes to life at nightfall when a chosen few, known as ‘guisers’, are tasked with marching through the village streets with whisky barrels filled with burning tar. The tradition has been in place since the mid-1800s and culminates with all the barrels being stacked into columns before forming an almighty bonfire. The event attracts onlookers from far and wide, and was traditionally used as a way of bidding farewell to the past 12 months in style.

New Year in the Big Smoke

Image by S Pakhrin
Image by S Pakhrin

Fancy spending your New Year’s Eve in London? The capital is full of festivities on the 31st, with the Mayor of London’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display a particular highlight. At the sound of Big Ben’s iconic clangs, a spectacular fireworks show unfolds in front of the London Eye. Hundreds of thousands take to the streets to witness the event, and although tickets are likely to be sold out, you can still enjoy it from several vantage points across the city.

If you intend on parking your car outside of central London, then rest assured that public transport services will be operating free of charge until 4.30 am. That enables you to get some much needed rest at your hotel before heading out for the annual New Year’s Day parade the following morning. Over 10,000 acts feature in the street march, with dancers, musicians and acrobats creating a spectacle like no other. Bring that camera!

Fancy dress in Devon

Image by toms_travels
Image by toms_travels

Who says fancy dress is solely restricted to Halloween? No one in the Devon village of Bideford, that’s for sure. Every New Year’s Eve, thousands of locals and visitors descend on the centre of this historic port town for some fancy dress-themed shenanigans on the banks of the River Torridge.

This year, the fancy dress theme is “storybook”, so here’s a chance for you to go all out with a throw-back to your favourite childhood tales. You’ll also find yourself in with a chance of entering the Guinness Book of World Records, as the celebrations will kick off with an attempt to form the world’s longest conga – on roller skates! If you’re currently trying to picture what that might look like, then check out an example here.

The night’s other festivities include a performance from an X-Factor finalist and of course the fireworks, which immediately follow the ringing of the midnight bells from St Mary’s Church.

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay

Image by Robbie Shade
Image by Robbie Shade

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations are widely regarded as one of the top New Year experiences in the world. On December 31st, the city’s iconic Princes Street plays host to a New Year’s Eve party on an epic scale. Over 75,000 revellers descend on the famous shopping street to await the countdown to the New Year. Giant screens and speakers broadcast the live music entertainment from Princes Street Gardens, which this year features Lily Allen and Hot Dub Time Machine.

As the bells strike midnight, the majestic Edinburgh Castle and gothic-style Old Town form the backdrop for one of the finest fireworks displays in the world. It truly is a sight to behold.

But that’s not all, folks! If you fancy dancing into the night, then head up to the Mound, where the world’s largest outdoor ceilidh will keep you warm into the early hours. And if you happen to arrive in town the night before, then don’t miss out on the spectacular torchlight procession lead by fully-clad Vikings from Shetland’s Up Helly Aa squad.

If you plan on spending a few days in the Scottish capital, then why not pick up a car hire in Edinburgh and check out some of the surrounding towns and villages? You’ll find plenty of inspiration in our Outsider’s Guide to Edinburgh.

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