diamond geezer

 Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Would you like to see the fireworks in London tonight? Well you can't, so bugger off and watch them at home.

That's the New Year message being heavily pushed by the mayor, the police and TfL today, in an attempt to make sure you don't come into town thinking there'll be something to see. There won't, the authorities have been very careful to ensure this, not unless you've got a ticket. And there are only 100,000 of these, and they've all sold out, so sod off.
"Central London is very crowded on New Year's Eve. We would strongly discourage anyone without a ticket from travelling to the area of central London where the fireworks display is taking place on New Year’s Eve."
The problem is that the New Year fireworks at the London Eye have become a victim of their own success. When first introduced in 2003, only a hundred thousand people turned up and the display was only a few minutes long. The following year spectator numbers increased by 50%, with the pyrotechnic spectacle upped in line with London's bid for hosting the Olympics. Before long the event was so popular that gates were erected to ensure that crowds on the Embankment didn't reach crushable proportions, and people were having to turn up at stupid o'clock simply to bag a space. Last New Year's Eve around half a million people turned up, most of whom ended up in the backstreets, hence the need for this year's reboot and attendance figures reduced to 2003 levels.

Tickets for the 2015 fireworks went on sale in September for £10 each, providing a total income of one million pounds. The money's solely to cover the costs of policing and security, we're told, plus the expense of dispensing and checking tickets at the various entrance points. Revellers will be expected to show ID before gaining entry, which could be seen as a simple way to limit resale by touts or alternatively as a despicable invasion of privacy. Back in the day this million quid would have been found from local taxation, but this year's display has shifted to the philosophy of 'user pays' and the rest of us are no longer wanted.

A huge amount of effort is being made to ensure the smooth running of London's New Year fireworks. They're a crucial part of the capital's global branding - maximum exposure for minimum outlay - and chaos on the Embankment isn't what worldwide audiences want to see. Roads closest to the river are being closed to traffic from 2pm, as in previous years, with an exclusion zone running all the way from Buckingham Palace to Blackfriars. By eight there'll be no traffic allowed anywhere from Vauxhall Bridge to Holborn, in part to give crowds somewhere to disperse, but also so that rowdy drunks can vomit safely once the West End's New Year celebrations are underway. And pedestrians in the riverside zones without tickets will be asked to leave before the proper punters turn up, at their designated times, as what used to be casual fun becomes rather more serious.
"If you arrive after your entry period you will not be able to access the event, even if you have a ticket. Although the arrival times may seem early, they have been set to ensure that the running of the event is smooth and to ensure attendees have the best event experience possible."
Although a riverside bend provides an excellent viewing area for the few, a wall of buildings almost completely obscures the spectacle from further back. That's bad news for anyone who turns up on spec, of whom there'll be rather more this year now that audience numbers in the approved area are restricted. Stand in the Strand and you'll see nothing, stand in Trafalgar Square and you'll see nothing but high level flashes - there are no big screens for the masses this year. And you know that area at the east end of St James's Park from which the London Eye pokes up fairly obviously above Horseguards? Don't get any ideas about standing there, they're closing that off from 4pm too, because the unpaid must not be allowed to congregate and watch the show.

Other public viewpoints are of course available, assuming you don't mind the fireworks looking rather small. But be warned that they may also be a lot busier than in previous years as thousands of people displaced from the Thames venture forth for an alternative view. I'm particularly concerned about Primrose Hill - half-empty in 2009 but last year packed, despite the rain - and I fear this may be the New Year its slopes are finally overrun. There's also Parliament Hill, although only a thin sliver has a decent view, or The Point in Greenwich, if you get there early enough, or... well, nowhere holds a candle to the Embankment, to be frank, and you're not going there.

You could easily have gone. Not all of the tickets were sold in one go, some were held back for dripfed release during the days before Christmas, and it really wouldn't have been difficult to get your hands on one. But that would have involved forward planning, none of this waking up on December 31st and thinking "Hey, where shall we go tonight, tell you what why don't we wander down to the Thames to watch the show?" And if you didn't plan ahead, so have no overpriced pub or club in which to celebrate, nor any friend's party to raise a glass to 2015, then you have only yourself to blame.

So what else to do? The Mayor recommends "you can always enjoy the best seat in the house for free by watching the event live on BBC1", and he's probably right. That way you get to watch everything in the warm near a plentiful supply of alcohol, plus there are aerial shots and audible bongs, plus there's no need to hang around for hours beforehand nor to walk a mile afterwards to find a relocated bus hub or functioning tube station. You'll be watching a few seconds behind the revellers on the Embankment, thanks to digital delay, but so will the rest of the country, and they'll probably be too tipsy to notice. So here's to 2015, wherever you end up, in a capital city that's increasingly not for you, so get used to it.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

What's on this weekend?
Wed 19th - Sun 23rd October
Bloomsbury Festival
It's free to visit the Foundling Museum this weekend.

twenty blogs
ian visits
blue witch
city metric
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
london museums
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
The DG Tour of Britain
Comment Value Hierarchy

read the archive
Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

diamond geezer 2015 index
diamond geezer 2014 index
diamond geezer 2013 index
diamond geezer 2012 index
diamond geezer 2011 index
diamond geezer 2010 index
diamond geezer 2009 index
diamond geezer 2008 index
diamond geezer 2007 index
diamond geezer 2006 index
diamond geezer 2005 index
diamond geezer 2004 index
diamond geezer 2003 index
diamond geezer 2002 index

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards