London's New Year's Day Parade (LNYDP) is a huge event with a global appeal and features more than 8,500 performers representing over 20 countries. The parade, launched in 1987, has since raised almost £2 million to help a wide range of London-based charities.
The parade winds through the city along a two-mile route. You can see marching bands, cheerleaders, dancers, acrobats, and more. Around half a million spectators line the parade route to watch the entertainment (come rain or shine), and around 300 million TV viewers tune in to watch The London New Year's Day Parade as it's broadcast throughout the world.
All 32 London boroughs submit a float to the parade and each is judged by a panel of foreign ambassadors and high commissioners to win money for local charities. The parade starts at 12 noon on Piccadilly (outside the Ritz Hotel) and finishes at around 3 p.m. The parade route passes by Piccadilly Circus, Lower Regent Street, Waterloo Place, Pall Mall, Cockspur Street, Trafalgar Square, Whitehall, and finishes up at Parliament Street. A route map is available on the parade's website.
Getting to the Parade Route
Public transportation is the best way to get to the parade route although you can also get a taxi or drive into town and pay for parking. If you do decide to drive, use the Auto Association Route Planner or Google Maps to plan your route. You can pre-book a parking space at a car park near the parade route on the Q-Park website.
London's bus system will take you to several spots along the route. Tube stops on and on and near the parade route include Westminster, Piccadilly Circus, Charing Cross, Embankment, St. James Park, and Green Park.
If you are coming in from out of town, the National Express bus connects to all UK destinations and London airports. London Embankment Station is .2 miles from Trafalgar Square. The bus also stops at London Waterloo Rail Station, which is .5 miles from Trafalgar Square.
Tips for Enjoying the Parade
With so many people gathering in London for the parade, here's how to have the best view possible:
- Pick up a copy of the Parade Post on the day to find out who's performing and when (they're usually available from the commentary posts or handed out by charity workers). The paper is free but donations are gratefully received.
- Aim to get to a viewing point along the route by 11 a.m. to secure a decent spot.
- LNYDP asked that bands march silently as they pass by the Cenotaph, the war memorial on Whitehall, so if you want to enjoy the music, choose a position away from this area.
- Celebrity commentators dot the route to introduce the parade performers, so keep your eyes peeled for a famous face.
- You can watch for free along the parade route or book grandstand tickets.