UK celebrates new year with spectacular fireworks

Technology
Big Ben chimed as midnight marked the beginning of 2023PA Media

The UK has celebrated the new year with firework displays and street parties for the first time fully since the beginning of the Covid pandemic.

Despite wet weather, revellers remained undeterred and took to the streets to usher in 2023.

More than 100,000 people gathered in London for the fireworks display which paid tribute to the late Queen.

And in Edinburgh, the world-famous Hogmanay street party attracted more than 30,000 party-goers to the city.

It was the first time since 2019 that people gathered along the Thames Embankment to watch the 12-minute firework display in London, which the city’s mayor Sadiq Khan said was the biggest in Europe.

As Big Ben rang out to mark the new year, London’s famous skyline exploded into colour with a barrage of fireworks.

The sold-out show in the capital, set to music, featured a voice recording from the late Queen and words from Dame Judi Dench. It then went on to honour King Charles with a message about the need to preserve our planet’s future.

A drone depiction of the late Queen Elizabeth

Reuters

The show was designed to send a message of “love and unity”, as it highlighted the Lionesses’ history-making Euro win at Wembley, marked 50 years of London’s Pride with a message from Peter Tatchell from the Gay Liberation Front, and sent a message of support to Ukraine.

Music from the display included hits from Stormzy, Calvin Harris, Rihanna and finished with the traditional Auld Lang Syne.

Last year, a smaller display with drones had been broadcast near London’s landmarks.

Revellers on Princes Street

PA Media

Earlier in the day, the Met Office had issued yellow warnings for rain in the south-west of England and warnings for ice and snow across the Scottish Highlands.

Organisers of the sold-out Hogmanay street party in Edinburgh said it was back in its “rightful home” after three years off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described it as the “first full Hogmanay celebrations in three years”.

In a new year message on twitter, she wrote: “Thinking back to Hogmanay last year and indeed the year before that, we’re reminded of just how far we have come from the very darkest days of the pandemic.”

Fireworks lit up Edinburgh’s Castle and The Pet Shop Boys headlined the event in Princes Street Gardens.

The street party, which has previously offered 60,000 spaces, was scaled back to just 30,000 tickets.

In Cardiff, families partied in the city’s Winter Wonderland, while people in Belfast celebrated at Europa Hotel’s annual Gala Ball.

But elsewhere, one new year celebration did not take place as a result of an arctic walrus being spotted on the coast.

The walrus was discovered in Scarborough’s town harbour on New Year’s Eve and the council decided to cancel its show after warnings it could cause distress to the animal.

Light display

Reuters

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak released a video message on social media marking the new year, in which he said he was confident “better times lie ahead” and he wanted people to feel “hopeful” going into 2023.

“I may have only had the job for several weeks at this point, but actually I feel good about the future,” he said.

“I feel positive about the change that we can bring so that we can improve everyone’s lives, so that we can deliver the peace of mind that people are looking for in the here and now.”

Mr Sunak’s video address struck a more upbeat tone than an earlier message when he said the UK’s problems will not go away in 2023.

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