New Year's Eve in London

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London's New Year's Eve
New Years 2014 Fireworks - London Eye.jpg
Fireworks over London Eye as part of the New Year's 2013-2014 multi-sensory display.
Genre New Year's Eve event
Date(s) December 31
Begins 8:30 pm
Ends 12:30 am
Frequency Annually
Location(s) Victoria Embankment and River Thames
Inaugurated 2000
Attendance 107,000 (2015-2016)
Budget £313,000

New Year's Eve in London is celebrated along the Victoria Embankment area of the River Thames where the London Eye and Big Ben are situated. The countdown is accompanied by the chimes of Big Ben, and a countdown timer projected onto Shell Centre. The fireworks are launched off the London Eye at midnight, which previously lasted 10 minutes, but was reduced to 8 minutes for the 2010 display saving organizers a total of £70,000.[1] Also, during that display, a projection on the Elizabeth Tower that houses Big Ben greeted in the new year.

The 2013–2014 fireworks display introduced smells that corresponded to the current colour of the fireworks. About 100,000 people in key viewing areas by the Thames got packs featuring scratch 'n' sniff programmes, LED wristbands and seven kinds of fruit-flavoured sweets that link to the tastes and smells of the multi-sensory display.[2] Vodafone UK partnered with the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson provided the fireworks display.[3]


The first major New Year's Eve fireworks display in London was to celebrate the year 2000. It was estimated by the BBC that about 3 million people turned up around the Thames to watch the fireworks display.[4] A "river of fire" was planned to accompany the fireworks display, but failed to make an impact.[5][6] A fireworks display was planned during 2000 to celebrate 2001, but was cancelled in November due to a dispute between the Ken Livingstone who was the Mayor of London at the time, and the London Underground.[7] The same dispute also occurred for the 2001-02 and 2002-03 celebrations,[8] although approximately 80,000 revellers gathered around Trafalgar Square to celebrate the New Year.[9]

After a hiatus of no fireworks on New Year's Eve, for the 2003-04 event, there were fireworks though only for three minutes. For the 2004-05 event, in the run-up to midnight, an image of candles was projected onto the Shell Centre as a tribute to the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.[10] Also, at midnight, fireworks were launched from the wheel itself for the first time.

For the 2011-12 extravaganza, fireworks were fired in a one-off event from Elizabeth Tower, launching from the top of the building outwards above the many spectators and well wishers below, welcoming in the year in which London went on to host the Olympic Games.[11] Fireworks were launched in the shape and colour of the Olympic flag, in a display that lasted approximately eleven minutes compared to being reduced to eight minutes in 2010.[11] The 2012-13 display was based on both the diamond jubilee and the Olympics. The Queen's Christmas speech was used in the firework display for the first time.[12]

The theme of the 2013-14 fireworks was 'Firsts' a projection prior to the fireworks featured Mayor of London, Boris Johnson talking about the many 'firsts' that have come from the United Kingdom and London itself.[13] He then went on to explain the 2013-14 fireworks would the "world first" multi-sensory fireworks display with fruit flavoured sweets and radio controlled LED bracelets which had previously been used during Coldplay's Mylo Xyloto Tour and the London 2012 Paralympics Closing Ceremony being handed out to revellers when entering the viewing areas.[14] These sweets were as stated in the information leaflet to be eaten prior to the display to "prepare" spectators with the flavours that they were going to experience during the evening. Scented mists and edible flavoured foam were also sprayed throughout the performance.[15][16]

For the 2014-15 display, the designer of the display stated that the fireworks will focus on London being an international city and how it can remain being one. It will also focus on how the New Year event in London is special to the public.[17] The 2014-15 display was the subject of controversy as a £10 charge was introduced by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, for tickets to the official viewing areas.[18]


Previously, no music has been played during the new year firework displays in London. However, from 2010–11, a musical soundtrack was played during the fireworks show, with the BBC providing the soundtrack.[19] During the 2010–11 fireworks display, songs that were played included Queen's We Will Rock You, The Beatles' Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and Blur's Song 2.[20] During the 2011–12 display, songs that were played included Ting Tings' "That's Not My Name", The Kinks "You Really Got Me", and Labrinth's "Earthquake".[21] John Newman's "Love Me Again" opened the 2013–14 playlist, and he was featured in Calvin Harris' "Blame" which ended the 2014–15 display.[22][23]

Featured Soundtracks[edit]

TV coverage[edit]

The fireworks are broadcast on BBC One on a show called New Year Live.[24][25]


  1. ^ "London's New Year's Eve fireworks attract thousands". BBC News Online. 1 January 2010. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  2. ^ "New Year's Eve London revellers will 'taste and smell' fireworks party". The Daily Telegraph. 31 December 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  3. ^ O'Boyle, Britta (31 December 2013). "Vodafone partners with Boris Johnson for first multi-sensory firework display for New Year's Eve". Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  4. ^ "Millennium celebrations 'a huge success'". BBC News Online. 2 January 2000. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  5. ^ "'River of fire' dubbed a flop". BBC News Online. 1 January 2000. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  6. ^ Matt Wells (3 January 2000). "River of fire that fizzled out". Guardian. Retrieved 11 January 2015. 
  7. ^ "London New Year's party cancelled". BBC News Online. 20 November 2000. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  8. ^ "Culture, Sport and Tourism Committee" (PDF). London Assembly. 20 November 2002. Retrieved 30 May 2014. 
  9. ^ "A damp squib: the Mayor’s plans for New Year’s Eve" (PDF). London Assembly. 1 December 2002. Retrieved 30 May 2014. Report of the Culture, Sport and Tourism Committee - December 2002 
  10. ^ Rubenfeld, Vik (1 January 2005). "Happy New Year!". The Big Picture. Retrieved 17 January 2014. New Year’s Eve, London—An Image of Candles is Projected onto the Shell Building (left) as a Tribute to the Victims of the Asian Tsunami (REUTERS/Matt Dunham) 
  11. ^ a b "London gets ready for New Year's Eve's firework display". BBC News Online. 30 December 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  12. ^ "London enjoys new year fireworks display". BBC News Online. 1 January 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  13. ^ "Vodafone joins forces with Mayor for world's first multi-sensory fireworks display". Greater London Authority. 9 December 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  14. ^ "Vodafone Announces 'Vodafone Firsts' New Global Own-Brand Engagement Strategy". Vodafone UK. 9 December 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  15. ^ "Multisensory Fireworks". Bompas & Parr. 19 December 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  16. ^ Victoria Cavaliere; Eric M. Johnson (1 January 2014). "Revellers usher in 2014 with fireworks and fruit mist". Reuters. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ Ben Quinn (31 December 2014). "New Year’s Eve revellers without tickets warned away from London fireworks". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 January 2015. 
  19. ^ "New Year 2011 fireworks at London Eye to have musical soundtrack". London SE1. 23 November 2010. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  20. ^ "London Eye fireworks mark new year 2011". BBC News Online. 1 January 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  21. ^ Camber, Rebecca (2 January 2012). "Eleven magical minutes that dazzled the world: Spectacular London fireworks display ushers in 2012". Mail Online. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  22. ^ "London New Year's Eve 2013/14 - Fireworks Soundtrack". SoundCloud.  (Speaker Icon.svg Page will play audio when loaded)
  23. ^ "Here's the tracklist to London's New Year's Eve firework display". Gigwise. 2 January 2015. Retrieved 11 January 2015. 
  24. ^ "New Year Live". New Year Live. 31 December 2008 – 31 December 2012. BBC. BBC One. Retrieved 4 February 2014. 
  25. ^ "New Year Live". New Year Live. 31 December 2013 – 31 December 2014. BBC. BBC One. Retrieved 4 February 2014.