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‘London is open’: Pro-Europe message as capital marks New Year

'London is open': Pro-Europe message as capital marks New Year


By Middleton Prince

Thousands of fireworks covered the sky above central London as the UK welcomed 2019 overnight.

More than 100,000 people lined the banks of the Thames for the ticketed event, which saw eight tonnes of fireworks set off from three barges and from the London Eye.

Even Big Ben came out of hibernation to count down to midnight, having been closed down for renovation in August 2017.

Video:’London is open’: Fireworks light up the capital

The dazzling display was centred around the theme “London is open” – with the phrase spoken in seven languages at 12.02am: Italian, Polish, German, Romanian, Spanish, French and English.

The soundtrack featured the best European talent in what was billed as a rebuke of the “insular inward-looking” impression given of the UK in the lead-up to Brexit.

Fireworks explode over The London Eye and Elizabeth Tower near Parliament as thousands of revelers gather along the banks of the River Thames to ring in the New Year on January 1, 2019 in London, England. Parliament confirmed that after being silenced for renovation work since 2017, Big Ben's famous bongs would ring out at midnight again to welcome in 2019
Image:The London fireworks were themed “London is open”

London mayor Sadiq Khan said the fireworks display was about “showing the world, while they’re watching us, that we’re going to carry on being open-minded, outward-looking, pluralistic”.

He added: “We, in my opinion, are one of the greatest cities in the world, one of the reason we are one of the greatest cities in the world is because of the contribution made by Europeans.”

“I think diversity is a strength and I think what tonight is about is celebrating that diversity.”

Thousands have gathered in central London to watch the fireworks display
Image:Thousands gathered in central London to watch the fireworks display

In Scotland, the biggest celebration was Edinburgh’s Hogmanay.

About 75,000 people gathered in the Scottish capital, counting down the 10 seconds to midnight and then watching fireworks to a soundtrack by German band Meute.

Edinburgh’s celebrations was also centred around the ties between Scotland and Europe.

Many of the performers were from the continent – and as the festival continues on New Year’s Day, buildings will be illuminated by “love letters to Europe” from six writers: Billy Letford, Chitra Ramaswamy, Kapka Kassabova, Louise Welsh, Stef Smith and William Dalrymple.

Edinburgh celebrates New Year 2019 with a dazzling fireworks display
Video:Dazzling display for 2019 in Edinburgh

The Edinburgh event is one of the world’s largest street parties with bands, DJs, streets performers, dancers, acrobats and fire eaters performing across three stages.

Crowds on Princess Street during the Hogmanay New Year celebrations in Edinburgh.
Image:Hogmanay also had a large fireworks display

Like the London fireworks, it attracts many people from continental Europe and even further afield.

Elsewhere in Scotland, Inverness hosted Scotland’s largest free Hogmanay, while celebrations also took place in cities such as Aberdeen and Stirling.

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