If you’ve ever spent New Year’s Eve wedged into the crowd in Trafalgar Square, craning your neck to catch a glimpse of the Mayor’s fireworks display on a big telly, you’ll know it’s an experience that must never be repeated. Even the shrewdest of Londoners can fall victim to last-minute NYE panic. All it takes is one friend suggesting you ‘have a big one’ and ‘see what central’s like for once’ and, bang! You’re crying on the Millennium Bridge at 1am, trying to Google Map a Sam Smith pub that might take pity on you and let you in for a pint of Doom Bar before closing.
At the Somerset House NYE party, however, you can get a brilliant view of the official fireworks from the River Terrace, do a bit of moonlight skating on the ice rink (which opens this Wednesday, November 13) and stay fed with something other than a £7 pizza slice. Last year’s NYE do featured drag crew Sink The Pink, and Somerset House has just announced that the House Gospel Choir will be singing the crowd into 2020. Never heard of them? Picture an 18-strong troupe mixing gospel, house and garage tunes into their harmonies, with a little help from a big brass band.
Aside from the main party, you can wander through the former palace like a lonely old monarch to see ‘I Came Apart at the Seams’, an exhibition of photographic and sculptural works by South African artist Mary Sibande. Once you’ve done your round of midnight kisses and ‘It’ll be better in 2020’ chats, get your second wind at a ‘House Party’ in the East Wing. Basically, no Millennium Bridge tears. You can be spontaneous on the other 364 days of the year, but if you’re determined to spend NYE in central London, it’s time to get your skates on.
Somerset House. Tube: Temple. Dec 31. £50, skate tickets £70.
Not fussed about being central? Find NYE parties all over London.