London welcomes in 2020 in style

Welcome to 2022!: Firework and lights show illuminates sky over London with nods to the NHS and England’s Euro2020 side – but not everyone is impressed – while crowds gather in parts of the capital despite Boris Johnson’s call for caution

  • Mayor of London Sadiq Khan urged people to watch the New Year spectacular at home on television 
  • This year’s show was designed so people could not watch it all from the ground as it was spread around 
  • Anti-vaxx demonstrators held a midnight protest next to the London Eye prompting a large police presence 
  • People on social media were bemused by the show which was on television for more than half an hour 

New Year was rang in with fireworks, lasers, drones and live performances in London tonight.

A live broadcast on BBC One featured iconic landmarks across the capital including Shakespeare’s Globe, Greenwich Old Royal Naval College, Millenium Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral.   

Festivities took place and people gathered along the Thames despite London mayor Sadiq Khan cancelling the official firework display this year.

He had encouraging people to watch the BBC One coverage of the event on television.

And Prime Minister Boris Johnson had also urged caution but it did not stop people from celebrating New Year with their friends in London.

People were seen lining up masked and unmasked along the Thames and Piccadilly despite pleas for caution from both men. 

But many were left disappointed as they could not see fireworks from where they stood on the river and others reacted on social media to the event, unimpressed.

Instead of one large fireworks display, there were smaller pyrotechnic shows during the 13 minutes along the River Thames interspersed with live performance from Olly Alexander and The Pet Shop Boys. 

Fireworks and drones were launched from Old Royal Naval College set to music from Elton John, Dua Lipa and Blur, alongside words from Sir Ian McKellen, England football manager Gareth Southgate and London Mayor Sadiq Khan. 

The event on television also featured a performance from the West End Musical Choir at Shakespeare’s Globe and messages from Paloma Faith and Jessie Ware.

Londoner Tomfoolery wrote a special poem for the event which was performed by actor Giles Terera. 

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: ‘For the first time ever, we also included live performances to celebrate London’s world-class creative sector which has been hit hard by the pandemic. 

‘Our unique cultural offer is one of the reasons we are the greatest city in the world, and I’m delighted that tonight we have sent a message to the world that we are strong, we are resilient, and we can look forward to 2022 in London with excitement.’

Fireworks lit up the sky in front of the London Eye at midnight with a smaller display than normal

Fireworks explode at the Old Royal Naval College at Greenwich in London

Lights shine up into the sky during a midnight display of drones and fireworks celebrating the new year at the Old Royal Naval College at Greenwich

Despite calls for people to exercise some caution, Piccadilly Circus was packed as people watched firewors explode in the sky

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had also urged caution but it did not stop people from celebrating New Year with their friends in London

The event on television also featured a performance from the West End Musical Choir at Shakespeare’s Globe and messages from Paloma Faith and Jessie Ware. Pictured: People hug in London at the start of the New Year

Pyrotechnics go off to mark the start of the year 2022, just after midnight, by the Millennium Bridge going over the River Thames

Ahead of the fesitivities, at the London Eye, a group of anti-vaxxers held a protest which resulted in a heavy police presence. 

It involved Piers Corbyn and comes after he was arrested in late December for encouraging people to burn down MPs’ offices. 

Despite festivities and crowds gathering in London, Hogmanay was cancelled for the second year in Scotland. 

There were no major events in Scotland or Wales due to restrictions but it did not stop some people celebrating the New Year anyway.

About 1,000 people of all ages climbed to the top of Edinburgh’s Calton Hill to make the traditional countdown to the bells at midnight.

The banks of the River Thames were considerably quieter than a normal New Year’s Eve as Londoners stayed away 

The poem in the New Year’s display in London paid tribute to significant moments throughout 2021.

These included the incredible efforts of NHS staff, Tom Daley’s Olympic Gold and Marcus Rashford’s food poverty campaign. 

Nowhere else in the world celebrates Hogmanay like Scotland, but for a second year Covid restrictions caused large event cancellations.

Despite the rules, about 1,000 people of all ages climbed to the top of Edinburgh’s Calton Hill to make the traditional countdown to the bells at midnight.

Before Christmas, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urged people to ‘stay at home as much as possible.’ 

New limits on large public gatherings forced the cancellation of New Year’s Eve street parties, for the second year, including the one planned for Edinburgh which attracts tens of thousands of people.

Hogmanay street parties across Scotland were cancelled, with crowds at outdoor public events capped at 500 since Boxing Day, for at least three weeks, and numbers at indoor public events limited to 100 standing or 200 seated.

Some people were not deterred and travelled thousands of miles to party in Edinburgh and make the most of a scaled-down New Year.

The Millennium Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral were used as a backdrop for tonight’s firework display

Pedestrians walk along the Thames to join in on New Year’s celebrations

Brenda Jane Baxter-Vell, from Zimbabwe, travelled to Edinburgh with her friend Captain Kevin Pope, having lost her husband to Covid-19 in November and her father earlier in the year.

Mrs Baxter-Vell, speaking outside a bar on the Royal Mile, said: ‘We have a lot of family history in Scotland and will spend our time tracking it down.’

Captain Pope, formerly of the 1st Kings Own Scottish Borderers, said: ‘We booked and paid for the torchlight march to Calton Hill and are very disappointed.

‘In the true spirit of flexibility, though, we have made plans within the guidance and restrictions.’

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan had urged Londoners to watch the display on television 

Hannah Vorchmann, 52, from Gdynia in Poland, said the £500 she and her husband paid for Hogmanay night in an Edinburgh hotel was a lot for them.

Mrs Vorchmann added: ‘We saw on the internet that the street celebrations in Edinburgh were off but we could not cancel and flew in today and leave at 4pm on New Year’s Day.

‘Everything is so beautiful and we’ll be back next year.’

Crowds did not have the experience they expected at the fireworks, with them not able to see any 

Eileen and Chris Chalmers from Dreghorn in Aryshire had a few days extra holiday to use.

Mrs Chalmers said: ‘We specifically chose to visit Edinburgh and the site at Mortonhall, in our campervan, because the large scale festivities were cancelled.

‘It seemed an ideal time to come to the city.’

Crowds line the Southbank beside the Thames for New Year’s Eve but they did not see any fireworks 

Canadian music producer, Karl Ziegler, aged 22 and his partner Liv May, 23, from Manchester, visited Edinburgh aiming to spend time with family.

Mr Ziegler said: ‘Covid has disrupted our plans because a member of the family has tested positive, so as Liv has not been here before we’ll be having a touristy three days.’

Ms Sturgeon said the restrictions were aimed at cutting down transmission of the Omicron coronavirus variant and because ‘large events put an additional burden on emergency services’.

The latest daily figures showed a further 11,962 cases of coronavirus had been recorded in Scotland – with 22.6% of tests coming back positive.

As well as fireworks and lasers, the New Year Eve show featured performances by Olly Alexander and the Pet Shop Boys

Thirteen further deaths were reported in Friday’s statistics, taking the total number of people who have died within 28 days of a positive test to 9,858.

Meanwhile, 859 people were in hospital with coronavirus on Thursday, up from 810 the previous day, with those in intensive care rising by two to 36.

Piper Dave Tunstall, aged 44, who caught Covid-19 earlier in the year, drove to the capital, from Paisley, to busk on the Royal Mile.

‘Busking with my pipes is helping pay the bills at the moment,’ said Mr Tunstall, ‘I play the double bass in a band called Langan but work is short.

‘In previous Hogmanays we have played gigs in London,’ he added.

‘It is great to be able to bring music to people at this time of year.’

One of those who gathered on the Thames expecting to see fireworks resorted to climbing on a post for a better view- but still did not see any fireworks 

Events followed an unusually warm New Year’s Eve which saw the highest December 31 temperatures in British history.

By yesterday afternoon the provisional daily maximum temperature was 15.8C (60.4F) recorded in Merryfield, Somerset – smashing the previous record of 14.8C (58.6F), held by Colwyn Bay, North Wales since 2011. 

Today could see the long-standing record for the warmest New Year’s Day broken as well.

It currently stands at 15.6C (60F) and was set in Bude, Cornwall, in 1916.  

The weather was so warm that members of the She Swims Falmouth group stripped down to their bikinis for a New Year’s Eve swim at Gyllyngvase beach in Cornwall.

And surfers took to the waves off Bournemouth beach in Dorset.

Hundreds of people gathered in central London ahead of midnight, although this year’s fireworks display was not visible from the ground

Over in Brighton, festivities also ensued to welcome in 2022 as people let off fireworks on the beach.

And in London, the Big Ben was illuminated as renovations were completed on the iconic landmark.

At midnight it ‘bonged’ to see the New Year in in style during the BBC’s special programme.

Large crowds of masked and unmasked revellers gathered to watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks but could not actually see anything 

While some people praised the fireworks, others reacted with disappointment.

One Twitter user used a meme of Mr Bean to express their feelings about the display.

Another used a Gavin and Stacey meme to illustrate that they were rather underwhelmed by London’s offering this year. 

People gathered along the Thames to watch the fireworks amid a heavy police presence but the display was not visible from the ground and many were left disappointed 

But Sadiq Khan wrote a positive social media post on Twitter to mark the New Year.

In it, he celebrated the display, showcasing pictures of it from across London.

He also took the time to wish London and the rest of the world a Happy New Year. 

Part of the 13-minute display this year featured drones which showed different patterns and shapes in landmarks across London

Drones hover over the Old Royal Naval College in London in this year’s display

The sky was brightened by a lion’s head to ring in the New Year as part of BBC One’s special 2022 show 

Fireworks light up the sky over the Old Royal Naval College after the normal New Year’s Firework display was cancelled due to the pandemic 

People stood and saw in the New Year on Edinburgh’s Calton Hill despite Covid restrictions in Scotland seeing Hogmanay cancelled again

The Big Ben was illuminated during the celebrations and it chimed when the clock struck midnight 

Social media users were not all impressed with the fireworks this year, with one using a picture of Mr Bean to express their disappointment 

Another wrote ‘The British public reacting to the ‘firework’ display with a Gavin and Stacey gif saying ‘Is that it?’

But London mayor Sadiq Khan wrote a positive social media post, wishing Londoners and the world a ‘Happy New Year’ and showcasing parts of the midnight display 

Piers Corbyn was part of an anti-vaccine protest at New Year’s festivities tonight despite his recent arrest for encouraging people to burn down MPs’ offices 

Pictured: Anti-vaxxers clash with police at their protest in Jubilee Gardens ahead of New Year’s celebrations 

Angry protesters fought with police at an anti-vaccine event at Jubilee Gardens ahead of the New Year’s Eve television show

Anti-vaxxers held  demonstration in central London with various people opposed to Covid-19 regulations and possible vaccine passports

Maskless protesters stood on the Southbank next to the London Eye for the late night demonstration against Covid rules 

Lasers were shot across the London skyline from St Paul’s Cathedral 

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