Leading Article: We should reclaim our streets more than once in every millennium
Thursday 30 December 1999
We look forward to their turn. On these small islands, the time has long passed when we could mark important occasions with such a simple gesture. However, dancing buttocks or not, most of us are still intending to have a good time, whether with family, friends or strangers. And for those wanting to see in the new millennium in style there are plenty of festivities to choose from, as befits the home of the Greenwich meridian.
We are not thinking here of things down at the Dome. It is churlish, but irresistible, to point out that many who visited the Dome's "dress rehearsal" before Christmas came away a bit bored. The bulk of the Dome's exhibits retain that worthy but dull, didactic, you-will-be-educated-whether- you-like-it-or-not, New Labourish air that many critics dreaded from the beginning. And while the Dome might pass as a tolerably good science museum or an updated version of the 1951 Festival of Britain, those vast sums of money clearly were not devoted to fun.
It is also hard not to smirk at the news that all the hotels, nightclubs, pubs and restaurants that rushed to exploit people's desire to celebrate are now rushing to drop their prices - that is, if they have not cancelled their events altogether. Rather encouragingly, it appears that people are spurning such over-priced and over-hyped events in favour of a night with those closest to them, whether at home, at a street party or just roving around the village, town or city centre.
Look at the events that are proving attractive: they all seem to allow people in this disparate nation to join together for a few hours of celebration. Of course the Scots always celebrate New Year in style, but even by their standards Edinburgh's seven-day festival promises to be a Hogmanay to remember. Birmingham's Party of the Millennium in Centenary Square (pounds 6 a head), featuring the legendary Roy Wood, is a sell-out. Leeds will be transformed into a city of lights. Belfast will be one great big jazz club. Some 40,000 will throng Manchester's music festival. And central London will become a traffic-free zone so that as many people as possible can enjoy the spectacle of the Thames "on fire" and the unveiling of the London Eye ferris wheel on the South Bank opposite Whitehall, to say nothing of the free concerts and fun fairs.
So, if these events are a success then why not enjoy them - or something like them - every year? They provide communities with a sense of shared experience - a rare commodity these days. Ban the cars and lorries, and give our streets back to the people for just one day. We need to be tempted to turn off the television and reminded that we live together, not just as atomised individuals. Belfast, Manchester, London and the rest are "venues" far more spectacular than anything to be found under the Dome or in a nightclub. And who knows, by the next millennium we might even rediscover our own community, like those revellers in Kiribati?
Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Katie Hopkins gives rare glimpse of sensitive side with heartfelt open letter to her children penned in case she dies from epilepsy
- 2 Rihanna's Met Gala dress took one Chinese woman 2 years to make, was reduced to omelette meme in 2 seconds
- 3 Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to replace Jeremy Clarkson and co
- 4 Frankie Boyle on Scottish independence: 'In the Interests of Unity, F**k Off'
- 5 Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
Penny Dreadful, series 2 episode 1, review: It is still gloriously silly
Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to replace Jeremy Clarkson and co
Eurovision 2015: What date and time is the song contest and who are the favourites to win?
How the Other Half Eat, Channel 4 - TV review: Swapping food trolleys shows how food and class are closely connected
Noel Gallagher 'cannot wait' to hear Oasis-inspired One Direction album but rants about 'pointless' Tidal and Spotify
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils