Happy New Year! Millions of people across UK wave farewell to 2021 and ring in 2022

1 January 2022, 00:00 | Updated: 1 January 2022, 01:39

The UK has welcomed in 2022.
The UK has welcomed in 2022. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

The UK has welcomed the arrival of 2022, with crowds gathering across the four nations to celebrate the end of a year plagued by a pandemic.

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Whilst London's famous riverside fireworks display was officially cancelled for the second year running, only going ahead for TV viewers, it didn't stop partygoers lining the streets to cheer in the new year as the clock struck 12.

Crowds were asked to watch a live TV broadcast in replacement of the famous display, which organisers say celebrated the city and highlights defining moments from the past year.

Twelve chimes of Big Ben could also be heard across the capital after a restoration project silenced the landmark.

It is the first time that the clock’s four dials have been on display for New Year’s Eve in almost four years, although only the East Dial – which faces the River Thames – was illuminated.

New Year's Eve celebrations were however somewhat muted across the UK, as revellers adapted to a raft of different restrictions in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

England was the only part of the UK where clubs were open - only to those who showed Covid passes upon entry.

Read more: PM urges Brits to 'be cautious' on NYE, saying un-boosted people 'suffer needlessly'

Read more: NYE rail travel chaos warning for passengers amid strikes and Omicron staff crisis

Drones and fireworks illuminate the night sky over the Old Royal Naval College in London.
Drones and fireworks illuminate the night sky over the Old Royal Naval College in London. Picture: Alamy

Scotland's traditional large-scale Hogmanay celebrations were cancelled as part of new Covid-19 restrictions announced by Nicola Sturgeon last week.

The First Minister also introduced new curbs on hospitality and urged people to "stay at home as much as possible" until at least the first week of January.

Hogmanay street parties across Scotland have been cancelled, with crowds at outdoor public events capped at 500 since Boxing Day, for at least three weeks, and numbers at indoor public events limited to 100 standing or 200 seated.

In Wales no more than six were allowed to meet in pubs, cinemas and restaurants to celebrate the end of 2021, whilst a maximum of 30 people could attend indoor events and a maximum of 50 people for outdoor events.

Northern Ireland introduced similar restriction ahead of New Year's Eve, including banning dancing in hospitality venues and table numbers limited to six people.

Lasers illuminate the night sky over St Paul's cathedral.
Lasers illuminate the night sky over St Paul's cathedral. Picture: Alamy

In his New Year message, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "Whatever the challenges that fate continues to throw in our way and whatever the anxieties we may have about the weeks and months ahead, particularly about Omicron and the growing numbers in hospitals, we can say one thing with certainty, our position this December 31 is incomparably better than last year."

The royals also shared well wishes with the public as 2022 approached, with Prince William and Kate tweeting: "Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!"

Alongside the message was an image of the couple laughing.

The royals joined in celebrations to mark the new year.
The royals joined in celebrations to mark the new year. Picture: Twitter

New Zealand was the first nation to celebrate the arrival of 2022, with a spectacular light display in Auckland.

Crowds were allowed to gather in the city for the first time since August, after coronavirus restrictions were relaxed.

Partygoers have been allowed to dance and gather in bars as long as they show their vaccine passport.

But the traditional Skytower firework display in Auckland was cancelled as a Covid-19 safety measure this year to prevent large crowds from gathering.