Thousands pack the banks of the Thames as nation prepares to see New Year’s Eve in with a bang

Happy New Year! The familiar ring of Big Ben ushered in the New Year in London as millions of revellers throughout Britain enjoyed firework displays to greet the start of 2019.

In Edinburgh tens of thousands of people flocked to one of the world’s biggest street parties.

While in London party-goers took in a dazzling firework display, with the words ‘London is open’ spoken in seven languages.

The capital’s mayor Sadiq Khan spoke the adage in English around two minutes into the new year after it was uttered in Spanish, Polish, French, Romanian, German and Italian. 

The display was expected to bring together more than 100,000 spectators to watch the largest annual firework display in Europe, including eight tonnes of fireworks.

Big Ben returned to action to start the countdown after remaining silent for the year during renovation works.

A spectacular 70,000 projectiles made up of 12,000 fireworks lit up London’s skyline as they are fired from four positions – barges and the London Eye.

Londoners also rang in the New Year with a soundtrack that celebrated Europe’s finest musical artists. 

We Are Your Friends, Stay and Don’t Leave Me Alone were some of the songs chosen for the 11-minute soundtrack, which featured artists from Ireland, France, Sweden and elsewhere.

These are the songs that sounded in the first moments of 2019: Give Life Back To Music – Daft Punk, New Rules – Dua Lipa, There For You – Culture Shock, Stay – Zedd (with Alessia Cara), Je T’aime Moi Non Plus – Serge Gainsbourg / Jane Birkin , Something 2 Dance 2 – NWA ,We Are Your Friends – Justice vs Simian, For You – Rita Ora / Liam Payne, Heater – Chase & Status feat. General Levy, Don’t Leave Me Alone – David Guetta feat. Anne Marie, Vertigo – U2, Lullaby – Sigala feat. Paloma Faith, Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall – Coldplay vs Swedish House Mafia, All You Need Is Love – The Beatles.

In Newcastle the dark night sky was lit up with explosive firework displays in anticipation for midnight, as Brits all over the country get ready to see in the New Year with a bang.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has the sold-out New Year’s Eve fireworks show will show Europe that the capital will remain ‘open-minded’ and ‘outward looking’ post-Brexit.

Speaking on New Year’s Eve, he said: ‘Well one of the things which upset many, many Londoners and many people across our country and in Europe is the tone and language used by politicians in Westminster, giving the impression we’re insular, inward looking, not welcoming to Europeans.’

‘I think the Government’s made a mess of negotiations with the European Union,’ Mr Khan continued.

‘Bearing in mind Parliament can’t resolve the issue of how we will leave the European Union, we should allow the public to take back control with the option of staying in European Union, or accepting the deal made by the government,’ he said.

He vowed that London would remain the same after March 29 2019, adding: ‘What tonight is about is showing the world, while they’re watching us, that we’re going to carry on being open-minded, outward looking, pluralistic’.

Organisers of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay said this year’s events – with a budget of £3.7million, including £1.25million from taxpayers – celebrate the ties between Scotland and Europe as the UK prepares to leave the EU in 2019.

Bands, DJs, street performers, dancers, acrobats and fire eaters from Scotland and mainland Europe will be performing at the street party, which starts at 7.30pm.

There will be music across three stages, with Gerry Cinnamon headlining the Waverley stage, Judge Jules headlining the DJ stage in Castle Street and Elephant Sessions on stage in South St David Street.

Franz Ferdinand will headline the Concert in the Gardens at the foot of Castle Rock, supported by Metronomy and Free Love, while some of the country’s top ceilidh bands will play at Ceilidh under the Castle.

The three-day festival opened on Sunday with the traditional torchlight procession, culminating in Holyrood Park where the outline of Scotland was lit up.

On New Year’s Day, buildings across the Scottish capital will be illuminated by ‘love letters to Europe’ by writers including Chitra Ramaswamy and Emma Pollock.

Event directors Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam said: ‘This year’s Edinburgh’s Hogmanay has a fantastic line-up of events for young and old under the banner We Love You, a celebration of Scotland’s long-standing cultural ties with Europe.

‘From our Concert in the Gardens headliner Franz Ferdinand to Carlos Nunez at the McEwan Hall, Massaoke at Bairns Afore to Gerry Cinnamon and Snap! at the Street Party, and the Loony Dook to our six writers creating love letters to Europe in Message from the Skies across the city, the programme is diverse, exciting and fresh. We look forward to welcoming you all.’

The weather is predicted to be unsettled but not as dramatic as previous years when storms affected the festivities.

Met Office forecaster Matt Box said: ‘It should stay quite dry during the day and it could be quite breezy through Monday.

‘But we could see some rain in the evening, light in nature, and it will stay fairly breezy into the evening.

‘We could see some gusts up to about 35mph, so it’s looking a bit unsettled for any new year celebrations. There could be light rain or drizzle.’

Meanwhile, Sadiq Khan has said London’s sold-out New Year’s Eve fireworks show will be a celebration of the capital’s relationship with Europe.

As part of the mayor’s London Is Open campaign, his office said the event will send a message of support to the more than one million European citizens living in the capital.

Mr Khan has previously expressed his backing for a People’s Vote and has voiced his concerns over the effects of a no-deal Brexit on the capital.

The display will bring together more than 100,000 spectators to watch the largest annual firework display in Europe, including eight tonnes of fireworks.

Big Ben will return to action to start the countdown after remaining silent for the year during renovation works.

The Metropolitan Police advised ticket-holders to pack lightly and only bring essentials, as no backpacks or suitcases will be allowed into the event.

Mr Khan, said: ‘Every year our capital puts on the greatest fireworks show in the world with the spectacular images of our skyline shared all around the globe.

‘I’m proud that this year the millions watching around the world will see us send a message of support to more than one million EU citizens who call London their home.

‘By paying tribute to our close relationship with Europe as we welcome in the New Year, we will once again will show the world that London will always be open.’

The event will be broadcast on BBC One for those who were unable to buy a ticket.

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