By Ricky Browne
Christmas 2020 may still be on the cards, but New Years Eve is another story, as Mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced on Friday that the celebrations would be cancelled.
New Years Eve has traditionally never really been a big thing in London, but in recent years the captial city has made a big effort to bring in the new year with a bang, and attract tourists while its at it.
The event features an explosive display of about 12,000 fireworks, watched by thousands on the ground and about 12 million on TV.
Recently, due to burgeoning demand, the city even started to sell tickets for the event held alongside the Thames, with more than 100,000 tickets sold for each of the last five years.
But its a different story now, as according to Khan “we simply can’t afford to have numbers of people congregating”.
Not too long ago New Years Eve in London was really an also-ran when compared against Christmas, with a few people drinking champagne from their homes at midnight or perhaps braving it by going out to a pub — if they could find one that was allowed to stay open past 11:00 pm.
People who wanted to celebrate New Years in style had to go to Edinburgh, where the tradition of Hogmanay has always been strong, with thousands going out in sub-freezing weather to herald a new beginning at a three-day street party. Either that or go to another capital city in Europe or perhaps New York or Rio de Janeiro.
But with the build up to a new millennium the laid-back London approach began to change, with the city trying to have firework displays that would be at least as impressive as those seen on the TV news from other name-brand cities.
Now, thanks to COVID-19, it looks like Londoners can return to their subdued celebrations, being careful to not be in groups of larger than six.
The coronavirus has claimed yet another victim, and the new year — even with the exciting TV event that is planned with its fireworks — will start now with the same whimper that the old year ended.
Regrettably that might include Edinburgh’s Hogamany as well, as odds are that this year’s festival will be a pale shadow of its predecessors — should it even happen at all.
Already, Londoners, Britain and no doubt the rest of the world, can start to look ahead to hopefully a better new year in 2022.