A drum bangs and the rollers return

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The Independent Online

We uncorked the champagne, revived ancient folklore traditions, we hugged and we kissed. There were more fireworks than these islands have ever seen. Many of us simply sat at home and watched it all on television. Wherever we were, Britain made sure it played its part in the millennium celebrations that raced around the world.

We uncorked the champagne, revived ancient folklore traditions, we hugged and we kissed. There were more fireworks than these islands have ever seen. Many of us simply sat at home and watched it all on television. Wherever we were, Britain made sure it played its part in the millennium celebrations that raced around the world.

Edinburgh, though perhaps defeated in attempting the biggest party, was determined to carry on the longest. Yesterday the hardy took the traditional midday dip in the "loony dook" beneath the Forth Rail Bridge, then headed for the husky sled race around the park beside the Palace of Holyroodhouse. But a triathlon, including a run around Arthur's Seat, was beyond most people. With Scotland enjoying an extra bank holiday, few seemed in a hurry to sober up before Wednesday.

On millennium eve more than 250,000 people crammed into the city as the Bay City Rollers, Scotland's most famous boy band, reunited for the first time in 20 years. The Rollers seemed a little tired, even embarrassed, as Les and Woody launched into "I Only Wanna Be With You".

Newcastle beat the New Year in with the largest drum in the world while fireworks lit up the Tyne Bridge. Police praised the behaviour of 12,000 revellers who greeted the millennium at Manchester's showpiece free event in Castlefield - headlined by former Stone Roses singer Ian Brown. But steep entrance fees for clubs and parties muted the city centre celebrations in Leeds, where people preferred community events. In Bristol fireworks from the Industrial Museum greeted the New Year, while in Liverpool a "waterscreen" projected images of the city's past, present and future onto the Mersey.

More than 57,000 fans were packed into Cardiff's Millennium Stadium for a concert by the Manic Street Preachers, while in west Wales the ancient town of Tenby bulged at the seams as 10,000 poured in for a lengthy rave.

Hundreds of people arrived on New Year's Eve in Canterbury after a six-week pilgrimage, carrying torches and crosses. In Exeter, organisers unveiled a metal egg containing the wishes of 2,000 local children, while the Great Peter Bell of the cathedral was rung 20 times at midnight. Beacons were lit across Devon and Cornwall - including one at Land's End.

In Brighton police declared that the huge street party of 300 musicians and street entertainers and 50,000 revellers passed more peacefully than on an average Friday night. More than 57,000 people on Plymouth Hoe broke into song as boats on the Sound were lit up by fireworks.

In West Yorkshire, police received 40 per cent more 999 calls than on a typical Friday. But the Metropolitan Police said crime was down 6 per cent on last New Year's Eve, with just 99 people arrested in the capital.

However, there were tragedies as the millennium arrived. In Nottinghamshire, a pedestrian was killed in a collision with a police car at around 3am on Saturday. Police also found the body of a man after being called to a house in Greater Manchester as the festivities were still at their height. Two men have been arrested and are being questioned after the incident in Tameside. One man died after falling from Blackfriars Bridge in London. A 30-year-old Liverpool man is in a stable condition after being shot at 5am yesterday in the Toxteth area.

New Year revellers, mainly with alcohol-related injuries, stretched the resources of casualty departments across the UK. Trent Ambulance Service reported its busiest night since records began. London Ambulance Service responded to 2,500 calls. Department of Health officials said no problems linked to the Millennium Bug were reported.

Elsewhere across the nation celebrations took on an additional meaning, and nowhere more so than in Northern Ireland. In Omagh, Co Tyrone, where 29 people were killed in a Real IRA car bomb in August 1998, there was an inter-denominational prayer service to welcome the new millennium, with children lighting a millennium beacon. In Newtownstewart, Co Tyrone, Cath-olics and Protestants greeted each other after attending religious services at churches on opposite sides of Main Street. In Belfast 90,000 people converged on the city centre to hear singer Brian Kennedy and other performers.

And after the night before came the millennium dawn, first appearing over Lowestoft in Suffolk, Britain's most easterly town, at 8.04am. Thousands gathered along beaches to witness the historic moment, with a fireworks display starting as the sun peeped above the horizon in a clear sky. Sue and Alec Faccas, from Langley, Norfolk, who married in September, toasted the dawn on the seashore with champagne. "It's been the strangest night of my life and this has just topped it off," said Alec, a 28-year-old software engineer. "It's a historic moment - something we'll never forget." We all know how he feels.

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