When we think of New Year, we imagine street parties in the city, parades and huge gatherings. But, for many of us, this isn’t actually a particularly attractive prospect. With all of the crowds and expectations, traditional New Year’s Eve celebrations can be overwhelming, meaning that many of us simply choose to stay in. But these don’t have to be the only options. Head to the Great British countryside and you will find the slow pace of life and wide open space to be the perfect environment for this period of rejuvenation. From booking a getaway in an English country cottage to just heading out on a woodland walk, here is our ultimate guide to spending New Year in the countryside.
Join a country pub quiz
If you fancy getting out for New Year’s Eve, but don’t feel like partying with the teenagers, why not pop down to the local country pub? Often, village pubs hold quizzes, live music or other special events on the 31st, which is the perfect way to socialise with friends over a few relaxed drinks. You don’t have to head to the pub, though. For example, St. Kitts Herbery in Cornwall is hosting their very own Big Quiz of the Year, which Betty Alexander from the Herbery explains is “perfect for people who are bored of watching the festivities on TV and want a chance to join in!” For just £5 a head, you can play along with the quiz, enjoy some sweet and savoury nibbles, cocktails, beers and soft drinks throughout the night, and even receive a prize if you’re on the winning team. As Betty continues, “We aim to make it a cosy and friendly event for people who are fed up of the bustle and stress of a big New Year’s Eve bash.”
Watch a fireworks display
For a truly traditional family fare this New Year’s Eve, there is no better way to spend the evening than by enjoying a good old fireworks display. The beautiful colours and shapes create an exhilarating atmosphere that is totally unique. You might be surprised to hear that Bideford, in Devon, is home to one of the most famous fireworks displays in the world, proving that you don’t need a big city to see something special. Phil Morgan, chairman of the Bideford Festivals Committee, says, “Bideford at New Year is always an incredible place to be and we’ve a bumper line-up planned for this year’s event, with fun for the whole family, including Titan the Robot, the ever-popular children’s party called Magical Moments, a children’s fun fair and amusements on Jubilee Square, live music throughout the town and on The Quay Stage - all leading up to the legendary fireworks display at midnight. With plenty of surprises in between, the event is truly fun for the whole family!”
A night in toasting marshmallows
If you really do want to take it easy this New Year’s Eve, simply sit back and relax in a gorgeous countryside cottage. Warm up with a cup of hot chocolate or share a glass of wine with friends and family, and count down to the New Year with your nearest and dearest. Perhaps you would like to enjoy a delicious dinner out or some afternoon tea before retiring to your cosy cottage? Or maybe everyone could team up and cook a celebratory meal together? Whatever you choose, for many, spending some true downtime is the ideal way to recharge before a busy January. There is nothing more traditional than seeing in the New Year huddled up around an open fire and toasting marshmallows.
Visit a local historic attraction
If you are more of an early riser, why not forego the busy evening festivities and celebrate the beginning of 2017 on New Year’s Day? There are plenty of events occurring in rural areas up and down the country. For example, history buffs will love visiting the “New Year’s Day Steam Up” at the Westonzoyland Pumping Station Museum in Somerset. Here, you can find out about the 1830 station and learn about the area’s industrial history. Alan Davies from the Westonzoyland Engine Trust explains, “Head for the imposing chimney stack of the pumping station rising out of the marshy Somerset Levels and come and warm up in front of our ‘new’ 1924 Robey Portable Boiler. Originally equipped with a beam engine and scoop wheel, this was replaced in 1861 by the now preserved Easton Amos land drainage machine, still in its original engine house and the recent recipient of a prestigious Engineering Heritage Award from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. The original buildings, comprising the engine house, cottage, forge and chimney are Grade II* listed by Historic England and together with a modern exhibition hall, engine shed and pump room house a fascinating collection of working stationary steam engines and pumps acknowledged to be the largest collection in the South of England. Two rooms in the Attendant’s Cottage and the Scullery are open to view.” Explore all of this while enjoying festive homemade cakes, hot drinks and fragrant mulled apple juice.
Alternatively, to reflect on the history of the British countryside before the New Year commences, The Museum of Somerset is hosting their ‘Old and New’ event on the 31st. As John French from South West Heritage explains, “Old and New looks at a wide range of real museum objects and their modern equivalents, from Bakelite valve radios to real Roman nails.” He says this event is “great for family reminiscence and looking at how technologies have developed over the years. We also have some traditional nursery rhymes with props to liven up your little ones visit.” This is, he claims, the perfect event for New Year’s Eve – “a time for looking back!”
Take a New Year’s Day walk
To gain a fresh perspective going into the New Year, there is no better way to stop and reflect on the past year than with a relaxing walk in the countryside. Whether you’re visiting the New Forest or the Forest of Dean, there are endless locations for stunning rambles, from a short wander by the seaside to a hike through the woods or even on Dartmoor. Alternatively, to find out a little about the area itself, there are many guided walks during this time of year. Charlotte Toop from Stourhead Estate explains, “Our New Year’s Day walk is a great way to get a breath of fresh air to kick-start the year, and enjoy some wonderful winter scenery. Whilst the landscape beyond the garden at Stourhead always offers wonderful walks to enjoy at your own pace, this one is extra special as it offers the chance to learn more about the place and the way it is cared for today from the people who look after it, Garden and Estate Manager, Alan, and Head Ranger Kim.”
Venture to a local event
Spending New Year’s Eve in the countryside doesn’t have to mean a night in on the 31st. In and nearby every rural area, there are plenty of parties open to the public for you to dance in 2017. With no huge queues or exclusive guest lists, a party in the countryside is the perfect way to invite the New Year in style. For example, in Tunbridge Wells, MooMoo Clubrooms is celebrating the New Year with their ‘Glamour, Glitter and Gatsby’ event.
Kristyan Connah from the Clubrooms explains, “We bring you a celebration like no other as we throw our first ever New Year’s Eve event in Tunbridge Wells. Dress to impress at our magnificent masquerade ball and get ready to raise a glass for the biggest countdown to midnight, with delicious cocktails, bubbly and more across our three floors.” Each floor has a different theme to keep you entertained all night long. Kristyan says, “Go for glitz and glamour in Boutique, our Chandelier Bar, for that stylish house sound. Get carried away to Kukui our South Pacific Tiki Lounge for that RnB vibe, or travel back in time and hit that flashing dancefloor in Fever, the only ’80s ’90s and ’00's bar in town!”
Go to a cocktail party in a castle
For something just as exciting, yet even more glamorous, you can now spend your New Year’s Eve celebrations in a regal castle. Bovey Castle in Devon is hosting its very own New Year’s Eve party this year, which provides the perfect soirée for a sophisticated night out. Stay in Devon explains, “An extravagant black tie and cocktail dress event, the New Year’s Eve party at Bovey Castle is all about the champagne reception, exquisite food, and ballroom dancing in the spectacular Cathedral Room with a live band and a fireworks display over the Dartmoor estate at midnight.” This is opulence at its best.
Go on a weekend break
To really make an event out of the transition in 2017, why not treat yourself to a cottage holiday weekend break? Any secluded, rural location you can think of in the UK will have countless beautiful properties just waiting to become your temporary home and hideaway to escape the busy festive season. Why not book a cottage break with friends? As Marie Claire points out, “This requires a high level of organisation, but it’s totally worth it. Can you imagine anything better than waking up with 10 of your besties, somewhere secluded, with breakfast croissants and homemade jam aplenty…this is the ideal scenario when planning your perfect NYE getaway.”
From Cumbria to Dorset, Herefordshire to Gloucestershire, there are plenty of locations to get away from the buzz of everyday life for a fresh start in the countryside. For example, Shropshire Tourism claim, “As one of England’s last remaining rural idylls, Shropshire has miles of unspoilt countryside with lots of great walks, proper pubs with blazing log fires, great local food and loads of independent shops. All this make Shropshire an ideal place to get away for a quiet, stress-free New Year’s break - especially for those who want to avoid all the noise and razzmatazz of New Year parties.”