Our favourite ways to ring in the New Year outside of London.
We certainly love a good bit of London glitz and glam for New Year, but if you can’t make it into the capital or if you prefer some real, traditional festivities, these celebrations in the UK for New Years are the ticket.
How to Celebrate New Years Outside London
Join in on the biggest fancy dress party in Cornwall as thousands of revellers swarm into the town, dressed in all manner of costumes. If you haven’t got a costume, don’t worry: all the local charity shops and Kidz R Us pull out the stops to provide a great selection for you to buy. There’s a party atmosphere in town all day on 31 December but, once the roads close at 6pm, the fun really begins. While the main celebrations is centred around the harbour front with live bands and food stalls, every bar and restaurant in town has some sort of event or themed party going on.
The very first swim back in 1984 marked the day that 17 swimmers entered the icy waters. The event was only ever meant as a one off to raise funds for the new sports club changing rooms and equipment for the medical centre, but 30 years later it is one of the premier events in the county calendar. Over the years the swim has grown in stature and occasion with over 1000 swimmers regularly taking part with thousands more watching and supporting around the village’s beachfront and harbour. It has become the biggest occasion on the Saundersfoot social calendar and has helped raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for local and national charities. The 2009 swim raised over £46,000, and the 2012 swim attracted a record 1,700 swimmers.
Also known as the Tar Barl, Bah’l, Bahl, and Baal – the spellings are various as it is a contraction of ‘barrel’ – the Tar Bar’l is perhaps one of the most spectacular examples of fire festivals still practiced today. This sizzling ceremony has been celebrated for at least 160 years, though some believe it began in the Middle Ages. From 11pm, the crowds gather in the town centre to see the guisers called upon to do their duty. At 11:30pm, the torches are lit and the barrels ignited. Each guiser lifts the flaming barrels up onto the top of their heads and fall in behind the band. At midnight, they arrive at the Bar’l fire in the town centre. The barrels are then used to ignite this ceremonial bonfire, as everyone shouts ‘Be damned to he who throws last’.
To visit the small Scottish village of Comrie on New Year’s Eve is one of the closest experiences to time travelling. The pagan-style torch-bearing Flambeaux Procession marches in this ancient fire festival, which traditionally was enacted in order to ‘cleanse’ the village in the new year. The occasion is thought to have roots in Celtic or Pictish tradition, although the fireworks are a welcome modern addition. Expect bagpipes and festively clad folk.
Scotland’s favourite indie band Franz Ferdinand is set to headline Edinburgh Hogmanay, the biggest New Year celebration in the UK, for the first time. One of the standout bands from Scotland’s inimitable musical heritage, Franz Ferdinand burst on to the British music scene in the early noughties in a flurry of jagged riffs, hands-aloft choruses and irresistible hooks. The music menu also includes some of the most danceable, chantable indie anthems of the last two decades- Alex Kapranos and co. have built a reputation for truly electrifying live shows. One of the most idiosyncratic British acts of recent decades, Metronomy is impossible to pin down and equally as hard not to fall in love with. Seamlessly intertwining funk, electro and rock elements, the eclectic quartet from Devon have built themselves a legion of fans over 5 albums.
It might not be as appealing as a hangover breakfast, but certainly will kick start any new years resolutions. Take this 9.6km route through Brontë country by storm- either as a fierce runner or for a laugh in fancy dress. The Auld Lang Syne Fell Race at Penistone Hill near Haworth welcomes everyone (but make sure to book) and provides ample competition for those giving it their all. Olympic medallists Alistair and Jonny Brownlee are old hands at the race.
We hear London’s Best New Year’s Eve Parties are also pretty good….
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