Top 10 places to go for New Year's Eve in the UK

Family, New Year, Seasonal

Posted by Clare on 28th November 2023

A firework explodes over the city of Edinburgh. The sun is setting over Edinburgh and the sky is pink.

Here in the UK, we are lucky enough to have some of the best New Year’s Eve destinations in the world. 

There is a whole range of events, from unusual traditions with historic roots to all-night parties featuring top names in the music industry. The best place to celebrate the new year comes down to what you want from your evening. 

You could dance the night away or chat and watch the fireworks with friends, roam the town and watch partygoers, or sit on a beach to be beside the sea as the new year arrives. This list features some of the best places to go for New Year's Eve – discover a fabulous party town or spectacular celebrations that you could join in during your UK break. 

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A montage of images showing fireworks across the Edinburgh skyline

Edinburgh, Scotland

Scotland has many places where you can celebrate New Year with Hogmanay, but its capital sure knows how to welcome in the new year in style. Unfazed by the chilly northern winter, thousands of people flock to this inspiring part of Scotland to celebrate Hogmanay with music, fireworks and a whole host of arts events and entertainment. While the New Year's Eve Street Party and Concert in the Gardens are the main events, the festivities continue for three days and include a torchlight procession the night before, as well as the Loony Dook, a bracing New Year's Day swim in the freezing River Forth. 

If you're wondering where to go for New Year's Eve and you want a night to remember, you'd be hard-pressed to find a place where the celebrations match Edinburgh in terms of scale and variety.

A procession of fire in the streets of Stonehaven during the Fireball Ceremony

Stonehaven, Scotland

Stonehaven celebrates Hogmanay a little differently from Edinburgh, with a famous Fireball Ceremony. At the stroke of midnight, the streets of this small Aberdeenshire fishing village become ablaze with dazzling fire displays as a procession of kilted people walk the streets, swinging the ‘fireballs’ around their heads. This is a tradition which is believed to date back at least a hundred years, said to burn off the bad spirits, and thousands line the streets to watch the event unfold, making it one of the best places to go for New Year’s Eve.

If you lose track of the time, listen out for the sound of a small pipe band signalling the start of the celebrations just before midnight. The group of approximately 40 men and women then proceed towards the harbour swinging their flaming spheres – don’t worry, they won’t get too close to the crowds lining the streets! Once the procession is over, the fireworks can begin, which you’ll be able to see from all around the town.

New Year's cottages in Scotland

Men known as guisers surround the ceremonial fire in Allendale

Allendale, Northumberland

The ordinarily quiet rural town of Allendale in beautiful Northumberland is the unassuming location of a New Year’s celebration with a difference. The Allendale Tar Bar’l involves 45 local men with soot-blackened faces, known as ‘guisers’, carrying flaming whiskey barrels full of tar through the town. The men, who must have been born in the Aleen Valleys, then toss them onto a ceremonial bonfire, creating an awesome spectacle that's sure to make your Northumberland holiday a memorable one.

If the fireworks in November seem too recent, come along and witness a proper fire festival, one that’s believed to have been taking place since the Middle Ages. This family-friendly event is one of the best things to do with children over New Year – it’ll certainly be a New Year's Eve to remember! However, we recommend trying to get the kids to take a nap during the day as the barrels are ignited at 11.30pm and then the ceremonial bonfire is lit at midnight!

New Year's cottages in Northumberland

A warming wood burner in one of our Lake District cottages, Derwentwater and snowy banks, and a walker in winter on a Lake District mountain

The Lake District

If burning barrels of tar and excitable crowds sound a bit too much for you, we’ve got some places to go for New Year's Eve in the UK that are a little more on the relaxing side. Swap the fire festival for a cottage with a warming wood burner and see in the new year in relative isolation. Strike out on a walk in the daytime on New Year’s Eve and breathe in some fresh winter air as you walk around one of the famous lakes or ascend one of the iconic peaks of Scafell Pike or Skiddaw. If you’re lucky, there might even be some soft white snow underfoot to add to the special end-of-year feeling.

If, after all this, you do get the urge for a traditional New Year’s Eve celebration, make a beeline for the market town of Keswick in the north-west of the Lake District National Park. Here, locals and visitors alike pack out the bars and hotels to drink and be merry before gathering around the clock tower for the midnight countdown. If you have the kids in tow and they crave the extravagance of a firework display, head to Bowness-on-Windermere for an extravaganza by the lake. You could even strike a deal: they can watch the fireworks if they join you the next day for a New Year’s Day dip in Derwentwater.

New Year's cottages in the Lake District

An incredible image of a starry night in the Brecon Beacons National Park

The Brecon Beacons

The Brecon Beacons offers another opportunity to forego the traditional fireworks shenanigans and take in a more natural display of light. Colourful explosions in the sky are one thing, but the ultimate light show is the one created by burning balls of gas millions of miles away. Only the fifth place in the world to be given International Dark Sky Reserve status, this fabulous national park is a tremendous destination to spot shooting stars and hypnotising nebulas … and winter is the best time to stargaze too!

Some of the best spots for stargazing in the Brecon Beacons are near towns where you can set up base before striking out as the sun begins to set. Look for our cottages in Usk and properties in Llangorse so that you can watch the celestial show next to the famous lake. Forget the sparklers this year and discover one of the best places to go for New Year.

New Year's cottages in Wales

A snowy Cotswolds village, a tree illuminated at the Festival of Lights at Blenheim Palace, and Broadway Tower surrounded by snow

The Cotswolds

This section of the blog certainly focuses on the serenity involved in seeing in a new year. Scroll on a little further if you’re looking for places to celebrate that have more of a party-town vibe, but stick with us here if tranquillity is your jam. The Cotswolds is an area of south-central England awash with peacefulness. The attractive medieval villages and rolling hills invite you to spend relaxing days walking with your loved ones; you might even find that you don’t bump into another soul on your travels, as many partygoers will flock to nearby towns for lavish celebrations.

Stay at one of our cottages in Broadway and visit Broadway Tower to take in the stunning panoramas – not a bad view to see out the year. If you do decide on a little razzle-dazzle but don’t want the intensity of a fireworks show, book one of our properties in Woodstock and visit Blenheim Palace to see the Festival of Lights. This illuminated garden trail made up of over a million lights takes you through the glowing tunnels, along the lakeside and into the fire garden.

New Year's cottages in the Cotswolds

A view of a bridge in Bideford at night with lights reflecting off the river

Bideford, Devon

Perhaps not a place that immediately springs to mind when thinking of New Year’s Eve destinations, the celebrations in the North Devon town of Bideford are definitely not to be underestimated. This year will be no exception! There are celebrations throughout the day, with events catering for the whole family. Come the evening, the quay is closed off to motor vehicles and the live music begins. Partygoers traditionally wear costumes and a number of landlords offer either prizes or discounts to reward fancy dress efforts.

As the clock strikes midnight, line up with the locals and challenge yourself to run across the Long Bridge before the last bell chimes out. The fireworks are sensational and round off a perfect night in North Devon. If there were an official bucket list of places to go for New Year's Eve in the UK, the little unassuming town of Bideford would certainly make the cut!

New Year's cottages in Devon

St Ives seafront at night and low tide, and the impressive fireworks display from the harbour

St Ives, Cornwall

The small Cornish town of St Ives has deservedly built up quite a reputation as one of the best places in the UK for New Year's entertainment (if not the world)! Thousands of people, traditionally sporting all kinds of fancy dress, flood the small town and often overflow onto the beach. You don’t have to dress up to join in, but you might be the odd one out if you decide against it. There’s often a theme so check ahead of your visit.

Street parties and fireworks generate an electric atmosphere as everyone is busy enjoying themselves. It really is an occasion not to miss. Children, too, will love being surrounded by their favourite superheroes and cartoon characters, or at least their real-world fancy dress equivalents! The whole town becomes a hive of activity but it’s the harbour where you’ll find most of the activity; look out towards the pier as midnight approaches to see the dazzling fireworks display.

Newquay Harbour at night with lots of lights twinkling

Newquay, Cornwall

Staying in Cornwall, Newquay is one of the best New Year destinations to join a throng of partygoers for fun which lasts well beyond midnight. Enjoy a good old Cornish cider in the company of thousands of jovial costumed party people, welcoming in the new year with a burst of colour and neon lights. Residents and visitors from far and wide congregate in the central square for the midnight countdown and customary rendition of Auld Lang Syne, having already made the most of the town's many drinking establishments.

Find the best vantage point for the harbour fireworks, which go on for no less than 30 minutes! The celebrations then continue long after the last firework has died away. If you’re thinking of taking the kids along for New Year’s Eve, take a flask of hot chocolate and have a stroll along the beautiful beach in the early evening. If you want to warm up, most of the pubs welcome children until around 9pm.

A montage of fireworks being set off near the water, and an image of Looe Harbour at nighttime

Looe, Cornwall

It seems that the Cornish are particularly hot on New Year’s celebrations, with Looe being one of the most popular in the whole country. Like its other Cornish contemporaries, Looe welcomes in the new year in fancy dress! This is the one day of the year that you will feel out of place dressed ‘normally’. There are two fireworks displays, one at 6pm for those with small children and, of course, the big one at midnight.

As it is a traditional fishing village, why not start the evening with a delicious seafood meal? Trawlers on the Quay is a top choice on New Year's Eve. After all, you’ll need energy to party your way through the rest of the night until the midnight fireworks on the beach! After your wild night, what better way to freshen up and send that New Year’s Eve grogginess on its way than a morning ocean swim? The annual New Year’s Day Swim raises funds for the RNLI and you don’t have to go all the way in – just dipping your toes in is fine in our opinion!

New Year's cottages in Cornwall

Time to celebrate!

Don't miss out on any of the fun this New Year's Eve – with our New Year cottages, it's easy to head to your favourite destination and celebrate in style! Click the button below to start browsing.

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Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.