Throngs of revellers jostling for a space by the Thames watching, wide-eyed, a cacophony of explosions light up the sky around the London Eye on New Year’s Eve has been a staple attraction for the last ten years – but the scene is set to look slightly different this year around.
It will look four fifths different in fact – with eager visitors and Londoners watching the spectacle at the Thames now having to pay £10 to do so – as numbers are slashed from 500,000 to 100,000.
The bladder-busting event had previously been free, but the realities of an annually swelling crowd, the lack of available space to get a good view at the back and the strain on transport and public safety has proven it to be no longer manageable.
Announcing the move, London Mayor Boris Johnson said today: “London's New Year's Eve fireworks are phenomenally popular, not just in the capital, but across the world and we want to ensure it continues to be a safe, enjoyable and sustainable event for the long-term.
“After consulting with our partners, we are introducing ticketing to help manage crowd numbers and create a better experience on the night.
New Year's celebrations around the world
New Year's celebrations around the world
London staged what was billed as 'the world's first multi-sensory fireworks display', when flavoured snow and scented bubbles descended on revellers
The London Eye is illuminated by fireworks as 2014 arrives
Fireworks explode over Edinburgh Castle during the Hogmanay street party celebrations
Indonesian people set up fireworks to celebrate 2014 New Years
Robertus Pudyanto/Getty Images
Fireworks explode near Malaysia's landmark Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur during the New Year 2014 celebrations
6/23 New Zealand
Fireworks explode over the heads of tourists and locals as the clock hits midnight to celebrate the New Year on the waterfront in the New Zealand town of Queenstown
Marty Melville/AFP/Getty Images
7/23 North Korea
Fireworks explode over Juche Tower and the Taedong River in Pyongyang, North Korea to celebrate the New Year
Kim Kwang Hyon/AP
8/23 South Korea
Buddhists light candles during New Year's Eve celebrations at Bongeun Buddhist temple in Seoul
Performers at the New Year's eve Winter Carnival in Newcastle city centre
10/23 Hong Kong
Fireworks explode over Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong
Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images
Indian sports players from the Madan Mohan Malviya Stadium light candles during an event to welcome the New Year in Allahabad on December 31, 2013
Fireworks explode from Taiwan's tallest skyscraper, the Taipei 101 during New Year celebrations
New Year's Fireworks on Sydney Harbour at Mrs Macquarie's Chair in Sydney, Australia
People dressed in traditional costumes play drums during a performance to celebrate the new year at the Great wall in Beijing
Shinto priests walk under a 'torii' (Japanese gate located at the entrance of a Shinto shrine) after they participated to a shinto ritual in preparation for the New Year at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo
16/23 The Netherlands
An explosion during a carbide shooting, a Dutch New Year's Eve tradition to scare off evil spirits, in Aarle-Rixtel
Lanterns are released into the sky for the 2014 New Year on December 31, 2013 in Bintan Island, Indonesia
Yuli Seperi/Getty Images
Fireworks light up the sky as Filipinos welcome the New Year, Wednesday Jan .1, 2014 in Manila. Traditionally, Filipinos welcome the New Year with fireworks and firecrackers and making the loudest noise possible, including indiscriminate firing of their guns which sometimes result in injuries and deaths
Pyrotechnic show company 'Group F' performs with fireworks in the Vieux Port (Old Port) of Marseille, southern France, on December 31, 2013, as part of New Year celebrations on the last day of the Marseille-Provence 2013 European Capital of Culture
Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images
Fireworks explode in the sky during New Year celebrations in Moscow's Red Square
21/23 United Arab Emirates
Fireworks explode over Palm Jumeirah in Dubai on January 1, 2014 to celebrate the new year. Dubai kicked off New Year with a dazzling bid for a new world record to cap those the Gulf city state already holds for its mammoth property developments. The glittering fireworks display that lasted around six minutes spanned over 60 miles of the Dubai coast
Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images
22/23 United Arab Emirates
Fireworks explode in the sky over Dubai
Fireworks over Edinburgh to celebrate the New Year's Eve Edinburgh Hogmanay street party, Scotland
“For anyone without a ticket the fireworks are again being shown live and in full on television.”
According to officials, no profit will be made on the £1million generated by the sale – instead all the cash will go on the process of ticketing, as well as the increased infrastructure and staffing needed.
The move was spurred by the growing levels of spectators since the fireworks began in 2003 but was not welcomed by parts of the political spectrum.
Mayoral hopeful Labour’s David Lammy said on Twitter: “Always loved that London NYE fireworks were a free & festive gathering open to all, not a sterile ticketed show. Not any more. #thanksboris”.
Boris needs to ensure New Years Eve fireworks charging doesn't become just a money making scheme. #mqt; Len Duvall (@Len_Duvall) September 17, 2014
Interestd to know how much London ecnomy benefits frm tourists coming for NYE. How many will still come now they need to ballot for ticket?; David Lammy (@DavidLammy) September 17, 2014
Others worried that the event would no longer be open to cash-strapped families and that there could be crowd management problems on the periphery of the paid-for zone.
Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, said: “It would be a scandal if any families were denied access to the event due to the introduction of ticket prices,” according to the Evening Standard.
Len Duvall, Leader of the Labour London Assembly Group, said people may view it as nothing but a money-making exercise and cautioned that it should not “become prohibitively expensive” as the cost for a whole family “can quickly rack up”.
Popular Twitter account @SkintLondon called for it to be balloted for free instead.
The event will go on until 12.45am with a live DJ set, the Mayor's office states, with free transport across the network for all set to continue for another year.
The ticketed viewing spots will be set up on both the north and sides of the river and will "broadly stretch from Westminster to Waterloo Bridge", with restrictions on nearby areas, too.
Greater London Authority said it came to the decision to charge after consulting the fire brigade, ambulance service, British Transport Police, Met Police and councils among others.
Tickets will be available on www.london.gov.uk/nye from midday on 26 September, with buyers able to purchaseReuse content