London’s New Year’s Day Parade (LNYDP) has been greeting each year in style, since its formation 33 years ago. Now it's time for you to get ready for its wonderful mix of pomp and pageantry, brilliant costumes, multicoloured inflatables and marching bands – all wrapped up in a glorious sparkle of celebration.
Join the thousands on the streets of central London to cheer on the performers at this joyous event to start your 2019 with a flourish—at the biggest and best parade in the event’s lengthy history.
A World Display
This year's theme, London Welcomes the World, is appropriate for the world’s most diverse city, which people from more than 270 countries call home.
"This will be a celebration like no other," says the parade’s executive director Bob Bone, who devised it in 1987. "London has always welcomed the world. London is open for business!"
To celebrate the city’s global culture, performers in the parade include the London-based Kimbanguist Brass Band, which has its roots in the Congo, and students from the London School of Dhol, who bang the riotously upbeat Indian drum with gusto. If you see a band wearing kilts and playing bagpipes, you’d assume they were from Scotland, but this is the Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa Pipe Band from a Hindu temple in the capital.
The parade doesn’t just attract home-grown talent – entertainment troupes from around the world join in, too. Look out for award-winning Robert E Fitch High School Marching Band, from Connecticut, which performs at all its American Football home games. Major names this year include Kaleb Lee, a country and western singer who was a semi-finalist on the US TV series "The Voice," and Malaysian magician Andrew Lee, who wowed the judges on TV’s "Britain’s Got Talent" with his tricks.
On the Starting Grid
Leading the parade for the first time is a driverless car. This groundbreaking vehicle has been given permission to head down Piccadilly, along Regent Street and Trafalgar Square, before ending up in Parliament Square.
Full of Hot Air
Floating above performers and spectators are dozens of giant, bespoke LNYDP balloons, created by the team at Megaflatables. A giant bandsman balloon represents the marching bands from throughout the world who have taken part over the years, while the balloons of London’s black taxis and red telephone boxes represent two of the city’s best-loved icons. Another one is covered with the flags from every country in the world.
Where to Watch
The parade heads on a route through landmark locations including Piccadilly Circus, Pall Mall, Trafalgar Square and Whitehall. Those lucky enough to buy a Grandstand ticket can take up great viewing positions including ones at Whitehall and Piccadilly (there are seven spots in total). But for the many thousands of others, rest assured you can find a great place along the route where you’re just as close to the action. And, best of all, it won’t cost you a penny.