London kicks off the roaring 20s with football anthems as UK marks new year

Thousands of people lined the Thames as London kicked off the new decade to the roar of football anthems such as Three Lions with the festivities providing a prelude to the Euro 2020 football tournament.

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, had promised the display – which also featured music from Stormzy, Wiley and Bastille – would be the best the capital “has ever seen”.

Big Ben rang out 12 times to mark the start of the new year despite the bell falling mostly silent in 2019 while renovation work is completed.

London’s annual New Year’s Eve fireworks display was sold out, with around 100,000 revellers packed into the streets around Victoria Embankment.

Around 2,000 fireworks set off during the display were fired from the London Eye, with the remainder coming from barges moored in a central location along the River Thames.

Fireworks on the London Eye (Aaron Chown/PA)
Fireworks on the London Eye (Aaron Chown/PA)

The show celebrated London’s role in hosting this summer’s international football tournament, which will take place in countries across the continent rather than being hosted by a single nation – and will see the capital host more fixtures than any other city.

Seven of the competition’s matches are set to be played in the capital, with Wembley Stadium scheduled to host the final and semi-finals.

“Footballs coming home” blared out as the Baddiel, Skinner and Lightning Seeds’ favourite accompanied the spectacular show, followed by The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army and classical hit Nessun Dorma.

The 1990 World Cup theme was played as the city welcomed in 2020 with a dazzling riverside fireworks display, featuring more than 12,000 fireworks.

Thousands of people lined the Thames to watch the fireworks display (Kirsty O'Connor/PA)
Thousands of people lined the Thames to watch the fireworks display (Kirsty O'Connor/PA)

Speaking in the city centre ahead of the celebrations on Tuesday night, Mr Khan told the PA news agency the “world” will be watching the display, and he hoped it would show London was a “global city”.

He said: “Fairly or unfairly, people around the world saw the Brexit referendum vote as the UK somehow turning its back on the rest of the world, including Europe.

“The fear was, we would become insular, inward-looking, and what I’m keen to show is the opposite.

“Yes we may be leaving the EU, but very much as a city we are still a European global city. We will continue to be open to people’s trade and ideas.

“What tonight’s fireworks are about is demonstrating our confidence.

“And it’s really important that we show the world who will be watching our fireworks that we are a confident, global, outward-looking European city.”

New Year 2020 celebrations
New Year 2020 celebrations

In Edinburgh, Auld Lang Syne rang out to begin the year, sung by revellers packing the Scottish capital’s streets for a Hogmanay party that had included a night of music, parties and more than 3,600 fireworks let off from Edinburgh castle.

Around 100,000 visitors were expected to attend the event, according to organisers who billed the celebrations as the UK’s biggest New Year’s Eve street party.

Revellers during the Hogmanay New Year celebrations in Edinburgh (Jane Barlow/PA)
Revellers during the Hogmanay New Year celebrations in Edinburgh (Jane Barlow/PA)

The festivities began in the city on Monday as around 40,000 people joined a torchlit procession which culminated in them forming the shape of two humans reaching out a “hand of friendship”.

Large pyrotechnics shows also took place in cities across the country including Manchester, Cardiff, Newcastle, Inverness and Nottingham.