The UK’s biggest end-of-year celebrations

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Fire and fireballs, ice and ice skating, a 5k run in the dark, five generations of retro disco and plenty of fancy dress. Take your pick!

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is recognised as one of the world’s greatest New Year celebrations… but what if you live elsewhere? Although Scotland is master of the fire ceremony, there are a number of other New Year events which are just as fun (and free). Here’s the Boundless Top Ten of where to say goodbye to 2016….

1. Scotland 

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay

All eyes are on Scotland at New Year, as it hosts a number of festivals with torchlight taking centre stage. Best known of course is Edinburgh’s Hogmanay. The city shows the world how to party with its annual Hogmanay event often highlighted as one of the ‘Top 100 things to do before you die’. Three days of celebrations include a torchlight procession, fireworks, bands and a New Year’s Day swim in the freezing River Forth. That’s the hangover sorted then.


2. Comrie Flambeaux

Further north you’ll find the lesser-known but beautiful Comrie Flambeaux fire festival in Perthshire. In the picturesque village of Comrie, hundreds of people gather in Melville Square to take part in one of the country's oldest festivals: eight flambeaux, or fire torches, are marched around the village before being thrown in the River Earn at midnight.

The fiery spectacular is accompanied by music, fancy dress parades and general all-round merry-making, and the evening's festivities begin with a children's fancy dress parade.

The origins of the ancient celebration lie in the misty swirls of time, but myth suggests the torches drive out the evil spirits of the old year, preparing the village for the coming year ahead.


3. Stonehaven Fireballs Festival

The small town of Stonehaven near Aberdeen hosts the dramatic Fireballs Festival of Stonehaven.

Crowds gather in the High Street from 10.30pm, ready for the parade of fireballs swingers that begins when the bells chime at midnight to welcome in the New Year.

Local people of all ages swing flaming wire cages around their heads. Thousands turn out to watch the procession, a river of fire marching down Stonehaven High Street

The dextrous performance of the fire swingers which heralds the New Year culminates in a fireworks display above the fishing harbour that can be seen for miles around.


4. London

London's New Year's Eve fireworks are ticketed these days and sold out well in advance. But there’s plenty else to do in the capital….

Somerset House 

Celebrate the New Year on ice at Somerset House, skating around London’s most beautiful ice rink to the sounds of a live DJ. Soak up the atmosphere in the courtyard with roaming performers animating the space and at midnight, enjoy a bottle of champagne and exclusive views of the Mayor’s spectacular fireworks from the River Terrace.


River Cruise 

Or see in the New Year in style with a Thames Cruise. It’s a good spot to watch the London fireworks lighting up the river. You usually get live music on board ship and a bar will keep the party vibe going.


Party like its 1949/1979/whenever

The Royal Festival Hall will be lit up with all five floors each transformed into party central influenced by a bygone era, including six pop-up vintage nightclubs, hair and beauty parlours and the chance to watch the fireworks from the terrace.

Dust off your top hats and spangly tutus and get ready to bust some moves.


5. Cornwall

Surf capital Newquay promises a banging party to celebrate the coming year, with locals and visitors dressing up to parade through the town, before congregating in Central Square for the countdown to midnight and fireworks over the harbour.

The next morning shake off the first hangover of 2017 with a brisk walk along one of the gorgeous cliff paths along the Cornish coast. St Ives also throws a good dressing-up parade and party, also free to all visitors.


6. Devon

Not a place that immediately springs to mind when Hogmanay is mentioned, the North Devon town of Bideford nonetheless puts on a humdinger of a party, with events throughout the town all day and night, and a ferris wheel.

On the last night of each year, the 'little white town' bursts into life to celebrate the passing of another year.

Described as one of the top ten New Year’s Eve events in the country, the town puts on a host of activities, is closed to traffic and revellers don fancy dress to enjoy the outdoor roadshow and dancing.

As the clock strikes midnight, line up with the locals and challenge yourself to run across the 222-yard Long Bridge before the last bell chimes out.

Fireworks light up the sky and the crowds sing Auld Lang Syne as the party continues.


7. Wales

If you fancy celebrating New Year’s Eve in a more energetic way, or like to watch people who do, head for the Welsh town of Mountain Ash, which holds the annual 5km run in commemoration of 18th Century Welsh runner Guto Nyth Brân.

Each year since 1958, at 4.30pm on New Year's Eve, a famous sports personality, whose identity is kept secret until the night, lays a wreath on Guto’s grave, then runs to Mountain Ash carrying a flaming torch, supported by local athletes. Last year the honour went to Colin Jackson.  

In the town, the torch is used to light the Nos Galan Beacon, signalling the start of more races. There are plenty of events for children, a fireworks display, prize-giving and subsequent (pub-based) celebrations.


8. Newcastle

New Year's Eve Winter Carnival

Celebrate the end of  2016 with music and dancing from 4.30pm. The Winter Carnival Parade will arrive at Newcastle Civic Centre around 5.45pm for the start of the Finale which will include performance, dance, music and fire and end with a huge firework display to music. This is a free event mainly aimed at families.


9. Weymouth

The Dorset seaside town is one of the top places for people who like to don fancy dress and party.

Revellers dressed in every costume imaginable gather in Hope Square or near the Jubilee Clock before midnight to ring in the New Year together before continuing the celebrations all night long (well officially until 3am anyway) on the Esplanade.

Head down to the waterfront for live music, where The Front Live event brings everyone together for one almighty party. The next morning join walkers on the beach for the first stroll of the year.


10. Northumberland

Allendale Tar Bar'l

The Northumberland Village of Allendale celebrates the New Year with a unique Pagan ceremony at midnight with a colourful procession through the town to the Baal fire.

A selected, hereditary team of 45 barrel carriers known as ‘guisers’ dress in fancy dress and carry whiskey barrels filled with burning hot tar through the streets to the town centre.

The tar barrels are then thrown onto a blazing ceremonial bonfire, as everyone shouts “Be Damned to He Who Throws Last”.


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