New Year's Day Parade
The New Year's Day Parade is a parade through the streets of the West End of London, which takes place annually on 1 January. The first year the parade took place was 1987, as the Lord Mayor of Westminster's Big Parade. The parade was renamed in 1994 and for 2000 only it was renamed the Millennium Parade.
The parade route is 2 mile (3.2 km) long. Before 2010 it began at Parliament Square in Westminster, continuing along Parliament Street and Whitehall to Trafalgar Square. It then continued along Cockspur Street and Regent Street. The final section was along Piccadilly and the parade ended at Green Park.
From 2010 the parade route was reversed, and the event now starts at the Ritz Hotel in Piccadilly and finishing at Parliament Square. The revised route is now:
- Leave the Ritz Hotel, head along Piccadilly to Piccadilly Circus, down Regent Street, then along Pall Mall to Trafalgar Square, along Whitehall and end up in Parliament Square.
The decision to reverse the route was taken to "appease US television broadcasters" and to "give the American audience the best views of the capital's landmarks, such as the Elizabeth Tower of the Palace of Westminster (The Houses of Parliament, also known as Big Ben) and Trafalgar Square." 
The parade is used to raise funds for charities in London and representatives from each of the 32 London boroughs are encouraged to take part as a 'borough entry' which are judged as part of the event. The winning entry in the 2009 parade was the London Borough of Merton. The parade is also used to honour people from each borough who have been heroic in some way during the previous year. Every year, BBC London holds a competition to find two talented young musicians to travel to the United States and play with an American high school marching band, both in America and in the London Parade, celebrating the special relationship between Britain and the USA.
The 130-member Dixie Heights High School Marching Colonels from Edgewood, Kentucky performed in the parade in 1991 led by Band Director Daryl Angel. After winning the Kentucky State Championship the year before, the Band was invited to represent the State in the New Year's parade. The band placed second overall against many other bands from Europe and the United States at the competition at the Royal Albert Hall following the Parade.
The 240-member Walker Valley High School Band from Cleveland, Tennessee, directed by Alan Hunt, and the vocal ensemble from the same school, marched in the 2007 parade. This was the second year that they had participated in the event. The vocal ensemble was also honoured by being asked to start the parade off by singing the British national anthem. The 140-member marching band from Fort Myers High School in Florida, USA, were initially prohibited from taking part in the 2007 parade because US education officials feared they may be caught in a terrorist attack. The decision was later overruled. The school also hosted the two winners of that year's BBC London competition.
Other American high school groups to perform included the Aberdeen High School Marching Eagle, from Aberdeen, Maryland, the Troy High School marching band from Troy, Michigan, which was placed fourth out of the numerous marching bands competing from Europe and the United States, the Deep Run Marching Wildcats of Glen Allen, VA and Turpin High School marching band from Cincinnati, Ohio. The Stone Bridge High School Marching Bulldogs from Ashburn, Virginia have performed in the parade twice, in 2009 and 2012. The Briar Woods High School marching band, also from Ashburn, Virginia, performed in 2011.
London's town crier is also part of the parade.
- Moellering, Amy (23 December 2008). "Amador band goes international for London's New Year's parade". The Oakland Tribune. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
- London New Year's Day parade reversed for US audience BBC London News, 7 December 2009
- "US pupils allowed on London trip". BBC News. 7 April 2006. Retrieved 3 January 2014.
- "Panama band members prevented from flying home by spelling error". BBC News. 3 January 2014. Retrieved 4 January 2014.