- Charlie Adams
- BBC News
The UK celebrated the New Year with free fireworks and street parties for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the rainy weather, the revelers were not deterred and took to the streets to welcome the new year 2023.
More than 100,000 people gathered in London for the fireworks display, which included a tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II.
And in Edinburgh, Scotland, the world-famous street party “Hogmany” has drawn more than 30,000 party-goers to the city.
It was the first time since 2019 that people had gathered along the Impact area on the banks of the River Thames to watch the 12-minute London fireworks display, which Mayor Sadiq Khan said was the largest in Europe.
And as soon as Big Ben chimed to announce the beginning of the new year, the London sky was decorated with colors after a barrage of fireworks was launched.
The show, whose tickets were completely sold out and set off to the beat of music, featured an audio recording of the late Queen and words from British actress Judi Dench. The show then moved on to present a message from King Charles that spoke of the need to preserve the future of our planet.
The show was designed to send a message of “love and unity”, as it highlighted England’s Lionesses football team’s historic victory in the Women’s European Cup at Wembley, celebrated 50 years of the London Pride Parade with a message from Peter Tatchell of the Gay Liberation Front, and sent a message of support to Ukraine.
The music played at the show included hits from rappers Stormzy, Calvin Harris and Rihanna and concluded with the traditional “Auld Lang Sign” farewell song.
Last year’s festivities saw smaller parades broadcast by drone near famous landmarks in London.
Organizers of the sold-out Edinburgh street party Hogmany said it had returned to its “rightful home” after three years of absence due to the coronavirus pandemic.
First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon described the party as “the first full Hogmany celebrations in three years”.
In a New Year’s message posted on Twitter, Sturgeon said: “When we think about Hogmany’s party last year and certainly the year before, it reminds us how far we’ve come from the darkest days of the pandemic.”
Fireworks lit up the sky over Edinburgh Castle and The Pet Shop Boys headlined the action in Princess Street Gardens.
The number of tickets on sale for the street party, which previously sold for 60,000 tickets, has now been reduced to just 30,000.
In Cardiff, Wales, families celebrated in the city’s winter amusement park, while citizens of Belfast, Northern Ireland, celebrated by attending the annual gala at the Europa Hotel.
The New Year celebration in Scarborough has been suspended due to the sighting of an arctic seahorse on the beach.
The presence of a seahorse was discovered in the port city of Scarparat on New Year’s Eve, and the city council decided to cancel its celebration shows after warnings that it might cause distress for the animal.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak posted a video message on social media on the occasion of the new year, in which he said he was confident that “better times await us” and wanted people to be “optimistic” as they entered the year 2023.
“I may only be a few weeks in the position at this point, but I really feel good about the future,” he said.
“I have a positive feeling about the change we can make so that we can improve everyone’s lives, and so that we can provide the peace of mind that people here right now seek,” he added.
Sunak’s video speech struck a more optimistic tone than his previous message, in which he said the UK’s problems would not go away in 2023.
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