Where to celebrate New Year in London: The best places to wave goodbye to 2020

Where to eat, drink and party in the capital this NYE

Updated on 21 September 2020 • Written By Eamonn Crowe

Where to celebrate New Year in London: The best places to wave goodbye to 2020

If you read our guide to New Year’s Eve in London last year, you might remember that we made plenty of jokes about how wild and unpredictable 2019 had been, and that surely 2020 couldn’t get any crazier. Oh, how wrong we were. Of course, you don’t need us to tell you that 2020 has been defined by the global Coronavirus pandemic, which led to us all being stuck in our homes for several months and getting very good at baking banana bread.

The virus is by no means gone, but here in the UK, we are slowly trying to get things back to normal and the public are once again allowed to visit pubs and restaurants, as long as they adhere to the government’s social distancing guidelines. It is true that this New Year’s Eve will look a little different than most, but whatever happens, we know that we want a front row seat to all of the action.

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2020 has been a year of unprecedented challenges (and we’re not just talking about trying to figure out how to mute your microphone on Zoom) so it is only right that you reward yourself for getting through the year with a NYE London night out to remember.

London's New Year celebrations range from VIP parties to quirky bashes and we’ve got the scoop on the very best of the bunch. It doesn’t matter if you are looking for a big-budget NYE dinner in a restaurant that overlooks the fireworks or if you want to keep things cheap and cheerful in a local pub, there will be a New Year’s celebration that’s just right for you.

With that being said, read on for our guide on where to eat, drink and party this New Year’s Eve in London, and be sure to keep an eye on this page too, as we’ll be updating it regularly in the lead up to the big event.

Where to watch the New Year's Eve London fireworks

Traditionally, the New Year’s Eve fireworks in the capital are a staple of 31 December, complete with thousands of spectators all crammed together along the South Bank. In 2020 though, things will look very different. In early September, London Mayor Sadiq Khan confirmed that the 2020 New Year's Eve London fireworks had been cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic and concerns about how the event would be able to take place with effective social distancing. 

All is not lost though, as the Mayor has promised that there will be an alternative virtual event that will take place and will be streamed on television for people to enjoy from the comfort of their own home.

Where to go for a New Year's Eve London dinner with epic views

Although this year's New Year's Eve fireworks are cancelled in London, there is still a chance to make an ocassion of it and enjoy a dinner out in London, complete with a side of epic views. The official firework display may not be happening, but at the stroke of midnight, we're sure that London's skyline will still light up with smaller displays taking place in people's back gardens. Choose from one of these New Year's Eve dinners London has to offer, all of which boast stunning views of London landmarks.

Aqua Shard, London Bridge

Why: Of The Shard’s trio of restaurants, Aqua Shard is undoubtedly home to the best view. The floor-to-ceiling windows ensure a jaw-dropping view across the capital, while the modern British menu features accomplished, hyper-seasonal dishes which prove that there’s more to Aqua than just its view. Of course, such great views come at a (rather high) price, but as the old saying goes – you get what you pay for.  
Where:
Level 31 The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, SE1 9RY

Bokan, Canary Wharf

Why: Offering 360-degree views of London’s skyline, three-level Bokan is worth climbing the stairs up to the 37th floor for (just kidding – there’s a lift.) In the restaurant, you can enjoy a seasonally-aware menu of modern European fare that champions British produce, while floor 38 is the place to head for after-dinner cocktails and floor 39 (home to the stunning roof terrace) is the place to soak up views of the capital on the stroke of midnight.  
Where: Novotel Canary Wharf, 40 Marsh Wall, E14 9TP

Hutong at The Shard, London Bridge

Why: Hutong, The Shard’s highest restaurant, lures diners in with its carved wood interiors and seductive low-lighting, while a menu that showcases premium Chinese regional cooking is more than enough to keep their interest. Fantastic views across the capital’s skyline are reason enough to spend NYE here, while sleek service and a charming list of innovative Asian-style cocktails seal the deal.
Where:
Level 33, The Shard, 31 St. Thomas Street, SE1 9RY

Aqua Kyoto, Marylebone

Why: The seductive interiors and high-quality Japanese fare are enough to lure the crowds into Aqua Kyoto any day of the week, but the restaurant makes for a particularly attractive New Year’s Eve venue. There are normally a few NYE dinner packages available here, with the best including food, a glass of Champagne on arrival and the chance to head up to the famous rooftop terrace in the wee hours to toast to the year ahead.
Where:
30 Argyll Street, W1B 3BR

City Social, City

Why: Part of the appeal of City Social is that it sits among London’s taller buildings, instead of looming over them – which means you can actually make out what’s happening on the streets below. Fantastic views don’t always guarantee great food, but City Social boasts Michelin recognition, serving a fine-dining menu which makes the most of seasonal ingredients. The bar area, Social 24, is also worth paying a visit too if you'd prefer to skip dinner in favour of drinks on NYE.  
Where: 24th Floor, Tower 42, 25 Old Broad Street, EC2N 1HQ

Oblix at The Shard, London Bridge

Why: Don’t be confused by the reception desk that sits in almost total darkness at the entrance, as once you step foot into the dining room at Oblix, you’ll be greeted by breath-taking vistas of the capital. The restaurant is split into East and West, with the former being a cocktail bar and relaxed dining area and the latter a more sophisticated dining experience featuring an open kitchen. Prices are punchy, but those views of London will almost make you forget about the bill.
Where:
Level 32, The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, SE1 9RY

OXO Tower, South Bank

Why: Plenty of sky-high restaurants have opened in London in recent years, but OXO Tower still boasts one of the best views in London. The eighth-floor restaurant features glass panelled walls on one side and a terrace so you won’t miss any of the action, while the menu comprises of sophisticated modern dishes. There are dedicated vegetarian and vegan menus available too, while the neighbouring Oxo Bar is the place to go for post-prandial drinking.  
Where:
Oxo Tower Wharf, Barge House Street, SE1 9PH  020

TING Restaurant & Lounge, London Bridge

Why: 35 floors above the streets of London, TING Restaurant & Lounge at the Shangri-La hotel holds the title of the highest restaurant in The Shard. The restaurant’s epic views make it an ideal spot to take in views across the capital and NYE here is set to be a night to remember featuring great food and booze. If you prefer early nights though, you could always pop in to try TING’s famous afternoon tea instead.
Where:
31 St Thomas Street, SE1 9QU

Galvin at Windows, Mayfair

Why: 28 floors high and with sweeping views of the capital, Galvin at Windows is a London staple for a reason. Sadly, you won’t spy Fred Sirieix of First Dates fame putting a shift in on NYE (he left his position as GM of the restaurant last year), but the kitchen’s Michelin-starred French food with the occasional Asian flourish will keep you more than entertained. The best part is you can ring in 2021 above London’s twinkling skyline, and we're sure there will be smaller displays a-plenty to watch from this hot spot.
Where:
London Hilton, 22 Park Lane, W1K 1BE

The Blueprint Café, South Bank

Why: Floating just above the Thames, Blueprint Café is home to some pretty special views across the river, thanks to floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Such glamorous views often mean a chunky bill at the end of your meal, but diners are often surprised to find that prices here are nowhere near as high as you’d expect. The menu is full of crowd-pleasing dishes which are suited to all of the family, while the location puts you in prime viewing position of the Thames.  
Where:
28 Shad Thames, SE1 2YD

Skylon, South Bank

Why: A bustling (but not chaotic) atmosphere and sweet-natured staff are just a couple of reasons why Skylon has long been a favourite among discerning Londoners. The restaurant also benefits from views across the Thames thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows, while the bar is often home to eye-catching floral installations. Chow down on the classically British menu as you wave goodbye to 2020.
Where:
Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Road, Waterloo, SE1 8XX

New Year's Eve restaurants

What better way to ring in 2021 than a delicious meal in a London restaurant? If you’re looking for an NYE set menu to thrill you and your family or friends on 31 December, our pick of New Year’s Eve restaurants serving special menus should have what you are looking for.

Lucky Cat, Mayfair

Why: Decadence is the order of the day when it comes to New Year’s Eve, and that’s exactly what you’ll find at Asian-inspired Gordon Ramsay restaurant Lucky Cat. The epic menu of dishes designed to share at the table includes the likes of ginger miso smoked salmon and chicken and prawn dumplings. Looking to make it an extra special occasion? Lucky Cat has five private dining rooms to choose from.
Where:
10 Grosvenor Square, W1K 6JP

Hakkasan Hanway Place, Mayfair

Why: To wave goodbye to 2020 in glamorous style, head to Hakkasan Hanway Place. The high-end Japanese restaurant is offering a selection of signature menus (vegetarian and vegan alternatives are available) with featured dishes including dim sum, roasted silver cod with Champagne and honey, and Wok-fried lamb cannon with black garlic sauce.
Where:
8 Hanway Place, W1T 1HD

Cinnamon Club, Westminster

Why: Cinnamon Club is the flagship restaurant of Vivek Singh’s Cinnamon Collection and comes with a built-in sense of occasion thanks to the grand surrounds of the Old Westminster Library and expertly prepared food – surely a perfect fit for News Year's then? On the night, you can enjoy signature dishes such as char grilled venison with chutney potatoes and Kashmiri lamb shank roganjosh with pilau rice.
Where: The Old Westminster Library, SW1P 3BU

Cinnamon Kitchen, Battersea 

Why: If you’re looking for a slightly more casual New Year’s restaurant, head to Vivek Singh’s Cinnamon Club spin-off under the arches at Battersea Power Station. At Cinnamon Kitchen Battersea, you can tuck into an array of tempting dishes, including Old Delhi style butter chicken with pilau rice, and tandoori king prawns in a tomato sauce. Don’t miss the ginger toffee pudding for dessert either.
Where:
Arch 758, Railway Arches, Battersea Power Station, SW8 5BN

Heddon Street Kitchen, Mayfair

Why: To ring in 2021, Heddon Street Kitchen will host two sittings between 5-6.30pm and then 7pm onwards. Guests can tuck into a four-course dinner that includes dishes such as creamed truffle and Portobello mushroom flatbread or roasted halibut with Champagne velouté and caviar. From 9pm, a DJ will take to the decks, while those looking for an extra touch of exclusivity can always opt to book one of Heddon Street Kitchen’s private rooms.
Where:
3-9 Heddon Street, W1B 4BN

Robata, Soho

Why: Planning an epic Soho night out for NYE? You’ll need to fuel up first. We suggest paying a visit to Japanese restaurant Robata, where you’ll find a dedicated tasting menu that features sushi and small plates to share, plus one main course each. Choose from the likes of black cod slicked with miso or barbecued free range chicken served with pickled daikon, while you can toast to 2021 with a glass of sake from Robata’s impressive selection.
Where:
56 Old Compton Street, W1D 4UE

Koji, Fulham

What: At Koji, guests on New Year’s Eve won’t be restricted by a set menu, which means they can order however much or little they like from the à la carte. Feast on the likes of sea bass sashimi with lime and chili dressing or pork belly with wasabi mash and spicy sweet miso, before rounding it all off with a helping of coffee and caramel milk chocolate truffles.
Where:
58 New King's Road, SW6 4LS

Kanishka, Mayfair

Why: If you’re serious about your Indian food, we’d suggest dining at Atul Kochhar’s latest restaurant, as he was the first Indian chef ever to win a Michelin star. Kanishka’s New Year’s Eve offering includes three packages to choose from. Our pick of the bunch is the Prime Time (7:30-9:30pm or 9:30pm-12M), which features a cocktail on arrival, a three-course meal, petit fours and a glass of Champers to toast to the New Year with.
Where:
17-19 Maddox Street, W1S 2QH

The Oystermen, Covent Garden

Why: This seafood restaurant was so popular when it first opened a few years back, that the dining room has since doubled in size. The Oystermen will open especially for New Year’s Eve, serving a delicious menu that kicks off with Champagne, canapés and cooked oysters on arrival. Once you’ve shucked to your heart’s content, you’ll be able to tuck into dishes such as truffled celeriac velouté with brown shrimp, and spiced potted Dorset crab.
Where:
32 Henrietta Street, WC2E 8NA

Union Street Café, Southwark

Why: In our opinion, New Year’s Eve is a time for carbs. Head to Italian restaurant Union Street Café to tuck into a three-course (5-6.30pm) or four-course (7.30pm onwards) meal, with dishes to try including duck cannelloni, octopus with foamy smoked potato, and white chocolate and hazelnut mousse for dessert. Union Street Café also boasts two private dining spaces should you want to make your New Year’s extra special.
Where:
47-51 Great Suffolk Street, SE1 0BS

Xier, Marylebone

Why: At fine-dining restaurant Xier, you can expect a menu that will help you ring in the New Year with a bang. The 10-course tasting menu can be accompanied by wines or cocktails, which will be followed by expertly prepared dishes including the likes of Orkney scallop crudo with Beluga caviar and gold and truffle dashi. To finish, there will be a selection of Swedish cheeses, followed by a trio of tempting desserts.
Where:
13-14 Thayer Street, W1U 3JR

VIP New Year's Eve parties in London

If going to a nightclub without having a table is an unthinkable prospect, these VIP New Year’s Eve London events are tailor-made for you. Expect to pop bottles of the finest Champagne, dress up in your finery and jump those long queues, as these NYE parties are the height of glamour and sophistication.

Madison, St Paul’s

Why: The dress code at Madison’s annual New Year’s Eve party declares ‘dress to impress’ – and we’re not surprised, given the restaurant and bar's reputation as a party palace for City slickers and the glamorous girls from Made In Chelsea. Your ticket will get you entry, a welcome drink and some canapés, while those enviable rooftop views and live DJs come as standard.  
Where:
One New Change, EC4M 9AF

The Candlelight Club, Greenwich

Why: Themed around a 1920s speakeasy, The Candlelight Club is the place to ring in 2021 Great Gatsby style. At its New Year’s Eve ball, partygoers can book tickets for one of two dinner sittings, before showcasing their best moves to music provided by live jazz musicians and other entertainers – there’ll even be an expert on hand to help you learn the Charleston while they play. Dressing up is of course encouraged.
Where:
16 Kemsing Road, SE10 0LL

London Sky Bar, South Bank

Why: Found on the upper floors of the Millbank Tower, London Sky Bar boasts views across the capital, overlooking the London Eye, Houses of Parliament and plenty of other famous landmarks. To say goodbye to 2020, London Sky Bar is throwing an epic celebration. Depending on what ticket you buy, you could be treated to live DJs, three free-flowing bars and unlimited food stations, as well as a prime position to watch the annual London firework display.
Where:
Millbank Tower, 30 Millbank, SW1P 4QP

The Yacht London, South Bank

Why: If you feel like getting dressed up for NYE, The Yacht’s annual black tie event is the one for you. Held on a permanently moored Yacht by the London Eye, the glamorous spectacle will see a Champagne and canapé reception, swiftly followed by a six-course feast, before guests head to the viewing platform for an unbeaten view of the world-famous fireworks. For adults only, the night is finished off with a live band and a late-night bar.
Where: Temple Pier, Victoria Embankment, Blackfriars, WC2R 2PN

Quirky New Year's Eve parties in London

Sick and tired of all the usual London New Year activities? Want to do something a bit more exciting than your mate’s house party or dinner with the family? Well, our pick of quirky NYE London parties and events should have everything you’re looking for.

National History Museum, South Kensington

Why: Venues don’t come much cooler than the National History Museum. On 31 December, the museum typically opens its doors to welcome revellers and we’re hoping that will be the case again this year, although this is yet to be confirmed. Previous years have seen the fun likes of silent discos, musical bingos and mass karaoke, all taking place under the famous life-sized blue whale skeleton which hangs from the ceiling. We can’t wait to see what the museum has up its sleeve for this year.
Where:
Cromwell Road, SW7 5BD

Ballie Ballerson, Shoreditch and Soho

Why: Having a party in a ball pit might be a popular choice of night out for toddlers, but now grown-ups can join in the fun too thanks to Ballie Ballerson, a cocktail bar featuring an adult-sized ball pit. New Year’s Eve here will see fun and frolics in the ball pit until 2am, while revellers can tear up the dance floor, complete with glitter artists and drag queens, until 4am in the morning.
Where: 97-113 Curtain Road, EC2A 3BS; 53-54 Berwick Street, W1F 8SP

Alcotraz, Covent Garden and Shoreditch

Why: Spending New Year’s Eve behind bars is probably not what you envisioned for seeing out 2020, but that’s exactly what this controversial immersive experience is all about. Guests will don orange prison jumpsuits and have to sneak contraband cocktails past the watchful eye of the prison warden. There’s even the chance to get your own faux mugshot and you can take your pick from one of two London locations.
Where: 68a Neal Street, WC2H 9PA; 212 Brick Lane, E1 6SA

The Curtain, Shoreditch

Why: If it’s good food you’re after, it’s good food you’ll get at The Curtain hotel in Shoreditch. The venue’s signature restaurant Red Rooster will be serving up sumptuous three-course set menus of Southern soul food like chicken and waffles, alongside some Veuve Clicquot to toast to the New Year. The quirky restaurant will also welcome musical group Nubiyan Twist, who will set the scene with easy-listening live jazz music.
Where: 
45 Curtain Road, EC2A 3PT

New Year's Eve London Eye, South Bank

Why: There are few landmarks in the capital more famous than the London Eye, which has been spinning for 20 years now. Typically on New Year's Eve, the London Eye is open during the day for guests to enjoy, with the last rotation at 3pm. In previous years, the Eye would then close to make way for the official London firework display. Now that we know this year's fireworks have been cancelled, we've got our fingers crossed that the London Eye will stay open a little later on NYE so that you can soak up nightime views of the city.
Where: Riverside Building, County Hall, Bishop's, SE1 7PB

Comedy Carnival, Clapham

Why: If you’d prefer a chill NYE, head to Comedy Carnival in Clapham. There’s an option to enjoy a three-course meal at Eco Italian restaurant, before heading to the comedy show which is taking place at the delightfully tacky Inferno’s nightclub (Margot Robbie’s favourite London haunt, don’t ya know). Once the laughs have been had, you can spend the rest of your night on the dancefloor, with Inferno’s NYE party rumbling on until 4am.  
Where:
146 Clapham High Street, SW4 7UH

Cheap and free New Year's Eve parties in London

New Year’s in the capital is notoriously pricey, but a night out on 31 December doesn’t have to break the bank if you’re smart about it. Although most New Year’s Eve tickets London has to offer will set you back a pretty penny, there are a few venues out there that are cheap and cheerful – and still plenty of fun!

Near & Far, Camden

Why: A sibling to the Peckham original, this alarmingly cool cocktail bar is from the same team behind The Magic Roundabout in Old Street station. Throughout the festive season, Near & Far can host you and your group of friends, with set menus clocking in at under £30 per head. Tuck into the likes of build-your-own tacos and sticky glazed pork ribs, while sipping on colourful cocktails.
Where:
48 Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8AJ

Brewhouse & Kitchen, Islington

Why: More of a pubber than a clubber? Then wave goodbye to 2020 in comfortably chilled fashion at Brewhouse & Kitchen’s Islington outpost. Entry is free, while you can expect to enjoy plenty of delicious pints from the on-site micro-brewery, alongside a selection of delicious canapés and music from live DJs – perfect for a booze-tinged rendition of auld lang syne come midnight.
Where:
Torrens Street, EC1V 1NQ

If you love great views of the capital all year round (whether there are fireworks or not), check out our pick of London’s best restaurants for views.