In 2012-2013 I experienced the Times Square Ball Drop which you can read about here. It was 13 hours of standing in one spot, waiting for midnight to hit…but it was every bit of AMAZING!
In late 2013, I had moved to London, and wanted to see the fireworks that lit up the river Thames and the London Eye as I rang in the new year because it was another one of those bucket list kind of experiences to have, and I was living in this city, so why not?
Along with another expat Aussie friend, Marie, we organised to stay in a hotel in Bayswater for the night as it would be easier than getting back home to where we both lived a little outside central London, plus it is always fun to stay in a hotel anyway.
Luckily for us, the ticketing system which has only been introduced this year to limit the number of people in this area costing £10 per person to gain entry, was not yet in effect so it was free and we were guaranteed entry to the Westminster bridge area to see the fireworks. I would be pretty upset to miss out on seeing this spectacle by having a limited number of tickets available to purchase, and obviously a website queue to deal with on the day tickets were released. So I do feel privileged to have seen them in my first year in London so I know what it feels like and never had to miss out.
Unlike the big wait for the ball drop the previous year, Marie and I arrived in the area at around 5pm, and ate Maccas, as you do when you need a quick bite. From about 6pm, we sussed out the area we wanted to be standing, and gauged the amount of people beginning to line the bridge so we knew when we needed to claim our spot, as we were walking up and down the bridge to keep warm before everything was closed off.
There was a DJ playing music there which helped to make us feel excited and Vodafone had given out these light up wrist bands which would light up different colours in accordance to some soft candy that was in a bag we were also given. It was kind of a theme to the night and having lights around does make everything feel a little more festive and in a new year spirit.
By 7pm, Marie and I had gone for our last toilet stop at the portable loos on the edge of the bridge, and were now standing in the space we wanted to be in, so we held our ground there until the fireworks finished after midnight. Unfortunately, this meant standing in this spot for about 5 hours or so, which given the previous year was a lot less so I couldn’t complain, but it is never easy to pass the time when you are standing in the freezing cold, which is made worse by being near water. But we managed it!
As the hours to midnight crept close, Marie and I entertained ourselves with whatever we could think of to pass the time. We also danced around to the music that was being played to loosen up as our bodies were beginning to stiffen in the cold so that helped to feel better.
After 4 hours and 45 minutes of waiting, we had finally hit the home stretch. It had been a cloudy night all evening, and our fear was that the fireworks would be washed out by the rain. As the minutes to hitting midnight got closer, it seemed like we were in luck, but with 2 minutes to countdown the rain started, and was heavy enough a shower to cause the entire bridge to put up their umbrellas.
It was typically British, reminding me of all the times Wimbledon has a rain delay.
However, in a miracle for us all, the rain immediately stopped as with 1 minute to go. The umbrellas went down and the seconds ticked away. I would have liked a 1 minute countdown to have sang out like it did in New York, counting down with a ticking clock from 60 seconds. I still get chills for that.
With 10 seconds to go, the crowd were all counting down together and then boom-Big Ben chimed in her loud fashion the 12 rings marking the arrival of midnight and it was the most beautiful sound I have ever heard, something I have always dreamt of hearing on new years eve. Fireworks began going off in second by second intervals matching Big Ben it seemed, which was really nice at building the excitement.
THEN the real fireworks began all at once and grew from there. It was actually insane! I have seen many fireworks in my life, and what was before my eyes is something I will never forget.
The fireworks were set to a soundtrack of music from Ellie Goulding’s ‘Burn’ to Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ and more. Fireworks were erupting across the sky and off the London Eye to the music making it all that much more exciting as a spectator. It was pretty remarkable to witness.
The finale of fireworks was as if a firework machine had literally gone berserk with the biggest number of fireworks I have even seen going off all at once, it was truly breath taking and worth every minute of the wait we had all experienced. The photographs that I took of all of this makes it very unclear that one is even looking at fireworks at all, but more so a painting with endless splatter on it. It was amazing!
It may have taken us over 2 hours to get to our hotel after all of this ended, but London is pretty much at a stand still around the roads with no real movement by cars or buses on the roads, so walking is your best option until you can find an open tube station (or a less packed one!) It was hell getting where we needed to but we can laugh about it now!
Now that I have experienced this, I don’t need to do it again and this year will be more low key, but still a party with a power ballads night at a club in North London being where my various friends and I will be spending our night ringing in the new year.
But, I would see this again if given the chance and even if I had to pay £10 to see it. Those fireworks were just incredible and took my breath away (literally!) There are not many moments in life one can point to where that has actually happened.
New years eve was London at her most brilliant and to witness it even once is a life altering event.
Everyone should experience this once in their lifetime.
So make sure you do. Immediately!
Enjoyed this article? Follow me on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to keep up to date with everything!