Happy New Year! UK rings in 2021 amid Covid-limited celebrations

1 January 2021, 00:00 | Updated: 1 January 2021, 07:57

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Millions of people have put a difficult 2020 behind them and ushered in 2021 in a quieter manner as Covid restrictions limited New Year celebrations.

Brits up and down the country have welcomed in the New Year from the comfort of their living rooms due to limitations on social contact introduced during the coronavirus pandemic.

On what would traditionally be one of the loudest and most widely-celebrated nights of the year, the public were urged by the government to stay at home due to rising Covid-19 infections.

Nonetheless, the chimes of Big Ben still rung out across London at midnight - and some fireworks lit up the capital's skyline - just one hour after the clock rang to signal the end of the Brexit transition period.

Cities across Britain would usually be illuminated with fireworks at midnight, however on Thursday most displays were limited to people's back gardens after public shows were cancelled.

Read more: PM says goodbye to 'grimness' of 2020 in New Year Message

Read more: Public warned to stay at home on New Year's Eve

Read more: UK records highest ever daily total of coronavirus cases

Some fireworks and drones lit up parts of London's skyline as the clock struck midnight
Some fireworks and drones lit up parts of London's skyline as the clock struck midnight. Picture: PA

However, a dazzling light and fireworks show lit up the Thames overnight, which included tributes to the NHS and notable figures from the year of the pandemic.

Amid the fireworks, several light projections filled the sky over the O2 Arena for a televised display, one of which showed the NHS logo in a heart while a child's voice said: "Thank you NHS heroes."

An image was also projected of the familiar figure of one of 2020's heroes, Captain Sir Tom Moore, who raised £33 million by walking in his backyard.

There was also a humorous nod to one of the peculiarities of the past year - working from home - with a mute symbol backed by a voiceover saying: "You're on mute."

Some lit fireworks on Calton Hill, Edinburgh, despite Hogmanay celebrations being cancelled
Some lit fireworks on Calton Hill, Edinburgh, despite Hogmanay celebrations being cancelled. Picture: PA

But many traditional festivities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were cancelled this time round - meaning London's iconic London Eye display did not go ahead and neither did the internationally-adored Hogmanay celebrations in Edinburgh.

It comes after the UK recorded its highest-ever number of coronavirus infections on Thursday, after a further 55,982 more cases were confirmed, along with 964 deaths.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock had previously warned: “With our NHS under pressure we must all take personal responsibility this New Year’s Eve and stay at home.

“I know how much we have all sacrificed this year and we cannot let up. Over 600,000 people have now been vaccinated and we are close to beating this virus.

“Now more than ever, we need to pull together to save lives and protect our NHS. If we continue to do our bit by staying at home, we can get through this together.”

London's skyline was void of fireworks in the build-up to Big Ben striking 12
London's skyline was void of fireworks in the build-up to Big Ben striking 12. Picture: PA
London's Piccadilly Circus was uncharacteristically quiet as the capital ushered in 2021
London's Piccadilly Circus was uncharacteristically quiet as the capital ushered in 2021. Picture: PA

Earlier, Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued his New Year message in which he said "goodbye to the grimness of 2020", adding that "there are tough weeks and months ahead".

However, he told Brits there are some reasons to look back positively at the last year, making reference to the Oxford vaccine, and clapping for the NHS.

"I want to remind you that this was also the year when we rediscovered a spirit of togetherness, of community," he said.

Similarly, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer used his New Year message to offer hope in 2021.

"I believe this can once again be the best country to grow up in and the best country to grow old in.

"And with that hope and that vision, I believe that our best years are still to come."

And finally, Happy New Year from all of us here at LBC's digital team.

Thank you for sticking with us through such a difficult year and we hope we have provided you all with everything you needed to navigate your way through 2020.

We look forward to keeping you up to date on everything in 2021, and here's to a better year for us all.

Stay safe and have a wonderful New Year!

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