I have many fond (and somewhat scanty) memories of New Year’s Eve past, whether that involved kissing strangers in strange locations or braving the throngs on the South Bank to party like it was 1999. But since having kids, welcoming the New Year has been a much tamer affair.
Still for those of us who haven’t managed to
bribe book babysitters, there are loads of ways you can have fun with the babes indoors or out.
Just remember that New Year’s Eve is a whole day event. And when you’ve got little ones, there’s no excuse not to rock around the clock.
UPDATED FOR 2019-2020!
1. Let it snow! Watch The Snowman dancing in the air at Sadler’s Wells, before he melts away until next Christmas. Or why not follow the Walking with The Snowman sculpture trail at London Bridge City Christmas market?
2. PARTY TIME! Midday is the new midnight. Have a 2-day early celebration on Sunday at Big Fish Little Fish NYE family rave with DJ food at Upper Norwood Library Hub in Crystal Palace or at indie lovers’ How Does It Feel To Be Loved Children’s Disco: Happy Pretend New Year (Sun Jan 29).
On actual New Year’s Eve (Tue Dec 31) you can party the day away on Tue 31st at Ida Barr and the Kids New Year Countdown at Southbank Centre; or hip hop until you drop at Fun DMC New Year’s Eve family bash. There’s also 90s R&B jams spinning at the New Year’s Eve Daytime Party at Ace Hotel in Shoreditch, run by Fly-Kid, the new daytime party event by Supa Dupa Fly (Dec 31, 12pm-5pm).
Families can go Raving and Misbehaving with Sharky & George at Under the Bridge on Fulham Rd (Dec 31, 2-4pm). And the incredible Big Fish Little Fish will be throwing an Actual New Year’s Eve Family Rave with Alex Paterson (The Orb) at Amerson Arms in New Cross (Dec 31, 2-4pm) – midnight countdown at 3pm!
4. Pimp your Xmas Tree for the New Year with glitter balls, party blowers, leftover crackers, masks etc. Or allez-y to see the Eiffel tower-inspired Lancome LED Christmas tree at St Pancras station.
6. Go nuts for Nutcracker ballet at London Coliseum.
7. Enjoy the final Giraffe High Tea for 2019 at London Zoo.
8. Have a Wizard of ‘Oz’ theme party – red shoes, kangaroos, any interpretation! – and celebrate New Year’s at 1pm London time (that’s midnight, Down Under).
9. Glide beneath the stars as the clocks chime at Tower of London, Skate at Somerset House, National History Museum Ice Rink. Take the kids skating on a rooftop in Tobacco Docks. Or watch cartoon heroes skate in Disney on Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic at O2 Arena.
10. Pick up some party bling at Dazzle jewellery fair at Oxo Tower.
11. Make your own DIY handprint calendar for 2020.
12. Watch the ’sunset’ (when the lights go down earlier) at Penguin Point at London Aquarium.
13. Get your party hats on for a festive crafting session: ‘Celebrate with Cake’ at Museum of London.
14. Bake one of these New Year’s Eve cakes with the little ones (or just spell out Happy 2020 in cupcakes and blow out the candles at midnight)!
15. Can a princess find love before the clock strikes midnight? Enjoy a fairytale matinee with Cinderella, the Lyric Hammersmith panto.
16. Strike out at Rowan’s Bowling Alley as the clock strikes.
17. Toast to 2020 via an early Champagne Flight on the London Eye.
18. Launch your year with an epic movie. The Skywalker saga concludes with Star Wars: Episode 9 The Rise of Skywalker, out in cinemas from Dec 19.
19. Invite friends with kids round for a sleepover party with dancing, retro games or YouTube karaoke (or bundle the babes in one room with a movie, while grown-ups party till dawn).
21. Mums, dads and even kids (ages 4-16) can get prepped and pampered for the night/year ahead at Brown’s Hotel Spa in Mayfair.
22. Make it pop with this NY Eve Balloon Countdown.
23. Get high with an early evening trip up for the best views of the city at View from the Shard.
24. You and the kids can put on your finery or fancy dress, set up a DIY photo booth with homemade props, plus mini makeover/tattoo parlour, and get snap happy.
26. Wave goodbye to London 2019 from the Emirates Air Line Cable Car flight over Greenwich.
27. Feast with knights, jugglers and serving wenches at a child friendly New Year’s Eve Medieval Banquet in St Katharine Docks.
28. Experience the winter market, a Magical Ice Kingdom and more at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland.
29. Book into a room with a view to see the South Bank fireworks.
30. Camp out in the living room with sleeping bags/duvets etc for an all-night movie marathon. Pillow fights optional! Check out our guide to Best Ever Movies to Watch with your Kids.
31. Make and decorate your own capes or just gift the family with superhero undies (my annual tradition) for a kick ass New Year!
And if you sleep through it all, here are some fun ideas for New Year’s Day with Kids in London:
Join the crowds for London’s annual New Year’s Day Parade (Jan 1 from 12pm, all ages, FREE);
Swing out with another adult, your child or baby in a carrier at the New Year’s Day Ceilidh at South Bank Centre (all ages, 2pm-5pm, FREE) (Jan 1);
Ride a real steam train in London at the Epping Ongar Railway’s New Year Steam Day (Jan 1);
Seen Star Wars? Catch one of these other family friendly releases: Frozen 2, Cats, Call of the Wild, Knives Out, StarDog and TurboCat, Spies in Disguise, Jumanji; The Next Level, Playing with Fire and Little Women.
More Festive Guides for London Fun