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New Year party goes off with a bang

Hundreds of thousands of New Year revellers welcomed in 2011 with a bang, packing the streets to watch spectacular firework displays light up the skies of London and Edinburgh.

Hundreds of thousands of New Year revellers welcomed in 2011 with a bang, packing the streets to watch spectacular firework displays light up the skies of London and Edinburgh.

An estimated 250,000 party-goers congregated around The London Eye for the capital's pyrotechnics extravaganza, while around 80,000 people attended the annual Hogmanay party in Edinburgh.

And the celebrations will continue today with half a million people expecting to flock to Westminster for the 25th New Year's Day parade.

The Metropolitan Police, who had 3,000 officers on duty, said 77 arrests were made during London's New Year celebrations. The majority (24) were for public order offences, while 16 revellers were arrested for assault and five for sexual offences.

Crowds gathered along the banks of the River Thames and spilled into Trafalgar Square, before a music-accompanied fireworks display illuminated the sky on the stroke of midnight.

The heavy cloud cover failed to hinder the spectacular 10 minute display, that saw showers of brightly coloured fireworks shoot from the London Eye to a soundtrack including Queen's We Will Rock You, The Beatles Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, and Blur's Song 2.

Erin Wilkins, 26, and Emad Tehrani, 30, travelled from Sydney Australia to see in the New Year in London.

Ms Wilkins said: "We've been queuing up here since midday and I think these are the best fireworks I have ever seen.

"I was really good how the fireworks came from three different places. It was awesome."

Peter and Harriet Hughes travelled from Cardiff in Wales to see the firework display with 18-month-old daughter Phoebe.

Mr Hughes, 28, said: "It's amazing.

"We see it on the TV quite a lot and my wife has never been so we decided to come down. Plus we couldn't find a baby-sitter."

Sunil and Sapna Peenikal also brought along their children aged nine and four and arrived at the riverside at around 7pm to get a good spot.

Mrs Peenikal, 35, from Rickmansworth, said: "This is our first year here and it's really thrilling.

"The fireworks are really exciting - it's going to be beautiful.

"The children are really excited."

First aiders and security teams, who had to ask some high-spirited party-goers to get down from traffic lights along Victoria Embankment, patrolled the streets with police as the celebrations went on long into the night.

Caroline Witossetk, 25, came with a group of friends from Germany specially for the New Year's Eve celebrations on the Thames.

She said: "London is amazing and we are here for three nights, for New Year and for the New Year's Parade.

"The people are so amazing, so friendly. It's our first time here in London and we like it."

In Edinburgh, partygoers enjoyed the world-famous Hogmanay street party and festival, which began on Thursday with a torchlight procession along the Royal Mile.

Fireworks lit up lit up the sky above Edinburgh Castle at midnight, before revellers joined in a mass rendition of Auld Lang Syne.

Earlier in the evening, Scots rockers Biffy Clyro performed to a capacity crowd at the Concert in the Gardens.

The band's guitarist James Johnston said: "It's a massive honour. We have never been through to Edinburgh for the Hogmanay celebrations and we have never done a gig on Hogmanay at all, so this is definitely a good place to start.

"It's the biggest party our country has all year."

Revellers, who had travelled to the event from across the globe, also headed The Keilidh for jigs and reels to traditional Scottish music.

The street party is the highlight of a five-day Hogmanay Festival in Edinburgh, which has featured a torchlit procession and dance and music events, ending on January 2.

Around 5000 people also packed into Glasgow's George Square to see in the New Year.

In London today, more than 10,000 musicians, cheerleaders and performers, including those from 20 London boroughs and 20 countries, will take part in the free 2.2 mile New Year's Day parade. A special message from the Queen will be read out to start proceedings.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph