`Hold no New Year parties at night' say police

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The Independent Online
EDINBURGH REVEALED its plans to celebrate the millennium new year over seven days yesterday as police in West Yorkshire appealed to the public not to hold night-time events.

The plans for Edinburgh, based along the Royal Mile, will include 1,000 bagpipers marching in full tartan. And, as the going rate for a piper on Millennium Eve now stands at pounds 4,000, the organisers revealed they have been booked, instead, to march on 30 December.

"We think the event will set the tone of the world's celebrations," said Peter Irvine, the artistic director of the celebrations.

Efforts to assemble the tartan band have been continuing all year.

"We've been scouring Britain," Mr Irvine said. "The going rate for pipers at hogmanay is one reason why this event will take place on the 30th - so that they can all get back in time to places like Milton Keynes."

He added: "The Royal Mile is not a wide street, it is med-ieval, one of the most atmospheric streets in the world, running from the castle to the palace, and it will be filled with the skirl of the pipes. Even if it is misty, it will be fantastic."

Edinburgh plans to launch its week-long party on 27 December, in an effort to hold on, against stiff competition this year, to its reputation as the best place in Britain to celebrate the new year.

Jack Munro, chief executive of the city's tourist board, said efforts had been made to prevent hotels increasing their rates during this period.

Mr Irvine said anyone arriving on New Year's Eve without a ticket would not be admitted to the central, sponsored event.

To gain admission, visitors will have to submit applications, from 20 September, to: PO Box 1-2000, Edinburgh EH1 1XB. Successful applicants forthe 180,000 tickets - the same number as last new year - will be selected via a ballot. The tickets are free.

The event will be patrolled by 650 police officers.

Among the attractions will be sled dog racing beside Arthur's Seat, the huge outcrop of rock overlooking the city, a candlelit concert in St Giles Cathedral, the world's biggest ceilidh (gathering) and what the organisers described as "the biggest firework display that has ever been seen in the United Kingdom".

For those who find the whole week simply too much, there will be an opportunity to sober up on the morning of the new millennium at Loony Dook, where there will be a mass, orchestrated leap into the Firth of Forth.

Wakefield Metropolitan District Council, meanwhile, has cancelled plans for a night-time fancy dress street partyafter consulting local police.

Millennium officer Debbie Carrington said: "After taking expert advice on the possible problems of holding an event over the eve of the millennium we took the decision not to proceed with any celebrations."

West Yorkshire Police are encouraging daytime events over the weekend that follows rather than night-time events on Friday, 31 December. Assistant Chief Constable Philip Brear said: "It could prove to be a busy evening for the police and other emergency services. Added to this is the likelihood many people will have been drinking and will want to `celebrate' in a boisterous manner."

Other Parties

Birmingham

Street party for 250,000 planned, starring Sir Cliff Richard. Has allocated pounds 40,000 for security fencing and claims its celebrations will rival Edinburgh's.

Manchester

Event based around a giant Millennium Bug coming out of the water in the Castlefield Arena - an afternoon event for families - and, in the evening, club/music event for 20,000 people.

Cardiff

Three-day spectacle under the theme "Calennig" - Welsh for gifts. Four sites being used with celebrations including fairs, fireworks and a community parade.

Norwich

Under the theme of "city of lights" events include a lighting link between the city hall and the castle. Two "domes" will be built, with themes of science and light .

Liverpool

Celebrations concentrated around the Pier Head with a musical event including laser and lighting displays. A "river of light" will link it to the Wirral.

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