London’s New Year’s Eve fireworks 2023: Where to watch for free across the capital

Light up, light up: From Brockley's Hilly Field to Hampstead's Primrose Hill, there are plenty of spots to watch the big display (Getty Image Dan Kitwood )
Light up, light up: From Brockley's Hilly Field to Hampstead's Primrose Hill, there are plenty of spots to watch the big display (Getty Image Dan Kitwood )

A summation of 2023 might sound depressingly familiar to that of the year before, punctuated as it has been by distressing conflict abroad, domestic political turmoil and a biting cost of living crisis. Déjà-2022?

Despite this, there's been plenty to be cheery about — not least that we saw Matt Hancock eat some testicles and get shouted at which, in lieu of more meaningful repercussions, was mildly satisfying.

But there's more. The UK now has two dedicated sites for temperate rainforest regeneration, the first beaver was born in the capital in 400 years, the NHS is trialling ambitious new treatments for hereditary cancers, and, at the time of writing, the government of Latvia has become the latest nation to legally recognise same-sex partnerships. It seems that despite the best efforts of just about everyone, there was a lot to be positive about this year.

As ever then, New Year’s Eve is a chance to toast the good of the past 12 months, and know that 2024 may get brighter still. After a few inconsistent years, London has been feeling busier than ever lately, with more tourists, more restaurants, more bars and more for the hospitality industry to be happy about. What better way to toast than with a glass of fizz with the sky ablaze?

Sadiq Khan said of the celebrations: “Celebrating the new year in the heart of our capital while watching our spectacular fireworks display on the banks of the river Thames is the best ticket in town. Millions around the world will see our capital's skyline illuminated by an extraordinary celebration of fireworks that will show London is for everyone.”

The evening begins at 8pm on December 31 and is held just by the London Eye; tickets are £20 and currently the first release is sold out, with a second release of tickets planned soon (sign up for email updates on ticket releases here). As it’s impossible to attend without a ticket, we’ve detailed the spots across town from which to watch the display, if you don't manage to grab one. Here’s everything to know.

Fireworks light up the sky over the London Eye and the Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben) in central London during the New Year celebrations (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)
Fireworks light up the sky over the London Eye and the Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben) in central London during the New Year celebrations (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)

For those with tickets

Only those with tickets bought from AXS can attend, so don’t head down and expect to pick up some from a tout, as reselling is strictly prohibited. Similarly, tickets can’t be transferred. Things kick off at 8pm on December 31 and finish at half midnight, January 1; entrance to the viewing areas, however, closes at 10.30pm. You’ll need to bring the tickets with you and ID may be required, too.

Those with tickets can head to one of the six viewing areas, designated by colour. These are Blue, Red, Pink, Green and White, as well as Orange, which is the accessible viewing area on the Albert Embankment, riverside of St. Thomas’ Hospital. From mid-afternoon into the early evening, these areas become extremely busy and moving between areas is impossible. In short, plan carefully where to go. Additionally, crossing the bridges is out both before and after the event, so factor this into your plans.

Details of your viewing area will be on the ticket, but for more information, head to

For those without tickets

It’s impossible to head down to the south bank or any of the viewing areas without a ticket, so don’t try and the centre of town is crowded enough on New Year’s Eve. Instead, given they can’t charge for looking up the sky (yet), it’s worth heading a little further afield (quite literally, in some cases) to catch a glimpse of the main celebrations, as well as any others happening across town.

Remember, despite the oft-repeated rumour to the contrary, travel is not free on New Year’s Eve so be sure to plan the best way to get home after your evening out (tubes will be running throughout the night, except on the Waterloo and City line, and the District Line to Kensington Olympia). Expect a number of central London tube stops to be exit only and beware that many of the roads will either be closed or extremely busy; Ubers will likely charge through the roof.

For those willing to travel, here are some of the best places to head — just remember to pack a coat, possibly a brolly, as the weather is, more often than not, inclement.


Cannon Street and the east side of Monument both sit close by to the official, ticketed viewing areas, so you’ll get most of the views without shelling out — but expect both to be extremely busy, so head down early. Bridges in central London are a similar story. The best of these is Southwark Bridge which sits close to the action and boasts some fantastic views. In previous years Millennium Bridge and Tower Bridge have been made open to the public however this year both will be closed, therefore expect Southwark to be rib-crushingly packed. Lambeth Bridge and Vauxhall Bridge, however, are only a little further away and perhaps are the perfect medium, offering both a little room to breathe and top views. If you’re on any bridge, remember you’ll be standing in the face of wind barreling over icy water, so prepare to be cold as well as wet. For Lambeth Bridge in particular, thanks to the recent completion of the Nine Elms development, best to camp up for prime placement at about 5pm.

It’s not too late to book for a new year’s meal in a skyscraper, either, which tend to offer a great view of the fireworks too.


Parliament Hill and Hampstead Heath

Parliament Hill offers some gorgeous views, even if the spectacle is a fair way off. Still, it’s a beautiful spot and there’ll be plenty of folks with their own fireworks, too, so you’ll be spoiled for choice. Or wonder further into Hampstead Heath, which holds its own as a haven away from the city. Looking for a drink before hand? The Bull & Last is possible, though it’s very food-focussed (and has a special NYE menu on). The Roebuck is a solid option, as are The Magdala and The Southampton Arms, which is a fantastic spot. In the other direction, try the Wells, which is a cracker (and, on another night, head back to eat upstairs in its excellent restaurant).

Nearest tubes: Hampstead tube, Hampstead Heath overground

Primrose Hill

At 76 metres up, the top of Primrose Hill offers near unrivalled views across London, so even before the fireworks kick off, grab a hipflask and a bottle (or two) of champagne, and enjoy London all lit up. Get there early as it gets very busy. If you’re looking for somewhere to pop in beforehand, try the Queens, or try the Princess of Wales, which is a good shout for afterwards too, as it’s usually open on New Years Day till 4am. The park closes at 1am and reopens at 6am.

Nearest tubes: Chalk Farm (though trains won’t be running beyond 9.30pm), Camden, Swiss Cottage

Alexandra Palace

Ally Pally’s sizeable hill is a steep incline, but the spectacular skyline view waiting at the top makes the trek worth it. Those who’ve been on Bonfire Night will know that any number of other firework displays are visible from the top, too. There are plenty of pubs around, including the Great Northern Railway Tavern, the Phoenix Bar and Kitchen (in the park, next to the palace itself), and the Mossy Well, which is a typical Spoons.

Nearest tube: Alexandra Palace


Greenwich Park

A double threat of sorts; the views from here take in the entire city skyline, but also much of east London, meaning visitors can catch any displays from there, too. It also just happens to be a beautiful park. The Plume of Feathers is close by, and the oldest pub in the area; the Kings Arms is your basic Greene King boozer, but it has a cracking garden if the rain isn’t too much.

Nearest tube: North Greenwich


Hilly Fields

It’s a fair way out, but Hilly Fields in Brockley is some 53 metres above sea level and has good views across London, especially the city. The main fireworks will seem a fair way off, but it’s a good spot for views of all the others across town too. Be sure to take any rubbish with you as there’s a park run happening first thing in the morning. For a drink nearby, try The Talbot or The Ladywell Tavern.

Nearest tube: Get the train instead, and head to Ladyfield, Brockley or Crofton Park