Here comes the Millenniyawn

The hype merchants are aghast, for on New Year's Eve most of us will stay home, writes Mark Rowe

WITH THE millennium only 75 days away, it's too late to see it arrive in Rome, Rio or Sydney, isn't it? And don't even think of going to Edinburgh - surely everything was booked up long ago? Wrong: a combination of Y2K fears, greed among hoteliers, tour operators and their employees, flight cancellations and a simple desire among most people to celebrate in the company of their family and friends means that the business and travel bonanza many had expected is unlikely to happen.

WITH THE millennium only 75 days away, it's too late to see it arrive in Rome, Rio or Sydney, isn't it? And don't even think of going to Edinburgh - surely everything was booked up long ago? Wrong: a combination of Y2K fears, greed among hoteliers, tour operators and their employees, flight cancellations and a simple desire among most people to celebrate in the company of their family and friends means that the business and travel bonanza many had expected is unlikely to happen.

In Britain the shadow of August's total eclipse has fallen over the Millennium build-up. The talk before the eclipse was of uncontrollable hordes of people descending on the West Country for an unparalleled display of human bonding. In fact, far fewer than expected turned up and many events had to be cancelled. Will the Millennium be a similarly damp squib?

The official line is that New Year's Eve will be a triumphant expression of national joy. More than 2.5 million of us, we are told, will flock to see the Thames turned into a "river of fire" by a firework display while across the country town centres will be awash with revellers. In reality, there is every likelihood that the same people who always choose to get drunk in public on 31 December will do so again, while most of us, as usual, will stay at home.

The first big millennium cancellation came last week when dance band M People scrapped a New Year's Eve gig at the Manchester Evening News Arena. The band will now play the venue on Monday 27 December. A New Year's Eve bash in the King's Hall in Belfast was cancelled after only 50 tickets were sold, despite the promise of prizes such as a Ferrari, a Rolex or a Caribbean holiday. West End theatres will stay dark. Football, rugby and racing events will have to wait until the New Year. Hundreds of music and dance clubs will shut, because musicians and staff either do not want to work or have demanded huge fees.

Not everyone is staying in - a concert in the grounds of the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, featuring Simply Red, the Eurythmics and Bryan Ferry is being heavily promoted and the Manic Street Preachers hope to pack 54,000 into Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on the big night. A concert by Sir Cliff Richard in Birmingham has almost sold out.

Bass breweries are working flat out for what the company anticipates will be a very boozy evening - but the company is closing its All Bar One chain of bars at 6pm on 31 December.

Travel companies which licked their lips for years at the prospect of vast Millennium profits are now licking their wounds. Few people are interested in paying a small fortune to fly to the South Pacific to witness the "first dawn of the Millennium". The Travel Trust Association, which represents independent travel agents, said that greedy operators and inflated prices had played a major role in disappointing sales figures. Other factors, including fears over the Y2K bug and the assumption that such holidays would in fact be sold out, have also contributed. Now may be the time to book, for many firms are offering big discounts on lavish packages. Lunn Poly, for example, is offering up to £200 off millennium breaks.

Some ordinary local pubs, normally free to enter, are asking up to £75 per ticket, and clubs up to £150. Whether they will be still asking that much on the night is another question.

In Edinburgh, the world capital of Hogmanay, where 3,000 bagpipers are expected to begin the celebrations by marching down the Royal Mile, millennium hotel prices have plummetted. "We've cut prices by an average of 50 per cent of what was originally planned," said the manager of one major hotel. "There is much more competition this year than previously for New Year trade, so many hotels are only half-full, when they would expect by now to be 70 per cent booked. Many of them have invested in hi-falutin' deals which they can't sell."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Day In a Page

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum