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New Year Cheer, Both Far And Near

Welcome 2012 in style with our pick of Britain’s best events for families

Posted: 19 December 2011
by Fiona McKim


New Year’s Eve Funk Party
December 31
Rare is the New Year’s Eve party that is as child-friendly as it is fun for adults but London restaurant Caponata and sister venue The Forge may just have pulled it off. Kicking off at a family-friendly 7pm this party offers a delicious three course meal (a children’s menu will be available) followed by a distinctly parent friendly disco-themed boogie wonderland dancing session with a live band.

New Year’s Day Parade
Kick off 2012 with an all-singing, all-dancing slice of American-style razzmatazz on the streets of London. What began as a humble affair in the late Eighties has grown into a globally celebrated spectacle featuring thousands of performers and a worldwide audience of millions. Rise bright and early to grab your spot on the two mile route through central London and welcome the New Year in spectacular style with pearly kings, marching donkeys, cheerleaders and acrobats.

Chinese New Year celebrations
January 29
Known to be the largest outside of Asia, London’s Chinese New Year celebrations are certain to be an exotic spectacle to behold. Welcome the Year Of The Dragon at the opening ceremony in Trafalgar Square featuring a variety of traditional performances then follow a procession of Chinese dragons, musicians and dancers to Chinatown where a plethora of cultural stalls and delectable oriental eats await.

The North

New Year’s Eve Winter Carnival
December 31
Take to the streets of Newcastle to catch a glimpse of this magical carnival featuring performances based on norse mythologies, Viking folklore and local traditions culminating in a fabulous firework finale at 6pm.

Chinese New Year
January 29
The city of Liverpool is home to one of the oldest Chinese communities in Europe, which should ensure plenty of jubilant celebrations welcoming in the Year Of The Dragon. Wander through the city’s Chinatown area and immerse yourself in this exotic celebration including of a traditional lion, and dragon parade, firecracker displays and a host of authentic food stalls.


Alton Towers New Year’s Eve
December 31–January 1
Propel yourself into 2012 with an overnight New Year’s package at Alton Towers. As well as staying in one of the resort's themed hotels and enjoying a selection of children’s rides and attractions, guests will be treated to a delicious New Years Eve dinner and brunch on New Year’s Day.

January 14
Welcome in the New Year at Brandon Marsh Nature Centre by making plenty of noise to awaken the fruit trees after the frost of the winter season.  Children will love joining in the ancient tradition of Wassailing, said to scare away evil spirits to ensure a good harvest of fruit in the autumn and will be rewarded with an apple juice for their efforts.

The New Year’s Eve Party
December 31
Families are very welcome at the National Trust’s Fleece Inn New Years Eve Party which will include a delicious supper and traditional Ceilidh.

The South

New Year’s Day Brunch
January 1
Segue seamlessly into the New Year and allow the stresses of the festive season so melt away as you enjoy a relaxed brunch with friends and family at Polesden Lacey estate in Surrey.

Royal Pavilion Ice Rink
Until January 22
Begin the year as you mean to go on by burning off any festive excesses on this majestic outdoor rink. Set against the backdrop of King George IV’s historic royal palace this glorious glacial ground will be offering lessons and group packages. Get it while it’s cold!


Edinburgh’s Hogmanay
December 30–January 1
Wrap up warmly to brave the chill at Edinburgh’s world famous Hogmanay celebrations. Whilst the rowdy hustle bustle of the street party may be best left to older children and adults the three day calendar of events includes plenty of child-friendly options within Scotland capital city. Have a spin around the rink at Princes Street Gardens’ Winter Wonderland, marvel at a torchlight procession with fireworks finale and rise bright and early on New Years Day to join in the outdoor games at The Playground In The Grassmarket.

George Square Hogamanay
December 31
This year, Scotland’s second city has opted to eschew the usual raucous New Year street party in favour of a calendar of family-friendly events throughout the day. Finishing at a bedtime-friendly 10pm, the celebrations are set to include live music, Ceilidh dancing and a curling rink in the heart of Glasgow's George Square.

Northern Ireland

Penguin Curling
December 27–January 3
Kick start Britain’s Olympic year with this madcap event at W5 in Belfast. Land your arctic friend in the target zone and knock out the opposition by dislodging their penguins during this sporty, family friendly game.

New Year’s Resolution
January 1
Shake off the excesses of the season of indulgence with this family-friendly gentle exercise trail and walk around Murlough National Nature Reserve in County Down.


All aboard
December 31 – January 2
Chug merrily into 2012 aboard a steam hauled train on the Deans Forest Railway, during one of these special seasonal events. Enjoy unlimited travel on the majestic locomotives making pit-stops for a bracing forest walk, deer spotting and enjoy a complementary mince pie.


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days out, activities, children, kids, new year with children, edinburgh, london, chinese new year, alton towers events, parades

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