Covid restrictions in many countries are expected to mean more muted celebrations across the world as 2021 draws to a close.
It had been hoped that pandemic would be over by now however the rapid emergence of the Omicron variant has seen countries put in place more restrictions on socialising.
In the UK the rules between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are different with no measures at all in England.
However the Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged people to celebrate ‘cautiously’ and take a lateral flow test before they do.
That could be difficult as thousands of Brits report issues getting their hands on the much-sought-after test kits which are in short supply.
In London the traditional firework display at Trafalgar Square in London has been scrapped by Mayor Sadiq Khan. Likewise Hogmanay in Edinburgh has been called off.
We’ll have all the updates.
Welsh revellers travel to England for New Year’s Eve celebrations
Welsh revellers have travelled to England for a New Year’s Eve night out.
Sky News reports that groups of Welsh party-goers were on board a 4.30pm train from Cardiff to Bristol.
One woman told Sky News: “I mean, everything is shut in Wales! Might as well come here for a night out – there’s no rules against it! It’s New Years Eve, celebrate New Years the right way.”
Nightclubs have been shut in Wales to tackle the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.
Bangkok rings in the New Year with style
Thailand has welcomed in the New Year with a magnificent firework display over the Chao Praya River in Bangkok.
The Thai Government relaxed alcohol restrictions for the night, allowing it to be served in restaurants and venued until 1am.
However Covid restrictions were still tight for large events.
Sadiq Khan on the fireworks u-turn
Sadiq Khan has discussed what Londoners can now expect this evening.
Earlier, it was revealed that the capital will have a fireworks display – three months after it was shelved.
He said people will be able to see it unfold on TV.
“What you will seeing is a live spectacular, broadcast showing the defining moments of 2021,” the Major of London said.
“It will also showcase some of the best things to come next year.”
Taking to Twitter, he added: “London’s New Year’s Eve display will showcase the very best of our city to the world.”
It’s a New Year’s Eve weather record
It is officially the hottest New Year’s Eve on record, it has been confirmed.
Temperatures reached more than 15C in the UK, but January is set to turn cold with snow predicted in parts of Scotland next week.
The record was broken twice in one day, the Met Office announced, making it a mild night for revellers.
So warm was it that some ice rinks were forced to close after the ice started to melt.
The previous high came on 31 December 2011, in Colwyn Bay in north Wales.
Some people even enjoyed New Year’s Eve ice creams from vans.
Boris Johnson urges caution tonight
People should remain cautious when out celebrating on New Year’s Eve, Boris Johnson says.
The Prime Minister’s comments come after nearly 190,000 infections were recorded today.
It is “precisely because of that huge national effort that we can celebrate tonight at all”, he said.
“Look at the intensive care units and the miserable, needless suffering of those who did not get their booster. That could be you,” he said.
“So, make it your new year’s resolution – far easier than losing weight or keeping a diary – find a walk-in centre or make an online appointment.”
The Pope’s message
Pope Francis made an appeal for intergenerational dialogue in his New Year message.
Published ahead of January 1, he spoke about support in 2022.
Pictures of him celebrating a mass on New Year’s Eve in Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican were also released.
He said: “Young people need the wisdom and experience of the elderly, while those who are older need the support, affection, creativity, and dynamism of the young.”
Party time in Beijing
While the festival to celebrate the Chinese New Year isn’t until February, there’s still a party going on in Beijing.
It has just hit midnight and there are celebrations going on in the city.
There are plenty of events going on but like most places around the world, it’s not a party like it would be.
China has curbed New Year’s Eve celebrations to reduce Covid-19 infection risks.
People are also being discouraged from travelling for the Lunar New Year break in the first week of February.
The pre-drinks are different this year
Nightclubs and bars allowed to open tonight are leaving nothing to chance.
The Astoria nightclub in Portsmouth, Hampshire, and adjoining Mr Miyagi’s bar are expecting 2,000 revellers this evening.
The bar opened this afternoon for party-goers to take lateral flow tests – a demand to gain entry to either venue.
With supplies of tests low around the UK, customers were given the best chance of having their night go without a hitch.
Scottish punters are spending the night in England after the party was cancelled due to strict new lockdown measures.
Fireworks warning is let off
Those Scots not going across the border who plan on setting off fireworks to welcome in the New Year have been handed a warning.
Letting then off near animals could land you with a £20,000 fine.
In Scotland, a new law came into force in 2021 making it illegal to set off fireworks outside the hours of 6pm and 11pm.
The Fireworks Miscellaneous Amendments Regulations 2021 came into effect in June, but sees the curfew extended to 1am for the celebrations.
You could also land time behind bars if you cause pets distress during fireworks on New Year.
Scottish crowds arrive in London
Scottish revellers have travelled to England to make the most of NYE rules.
It comes after Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon imposed tougher restrictions on venues, including the closer of nightclubs.
Passengers have been pictured arriving at King’s Cross, London, from Edibnurgh – preparing for a night of partying as they welcome the New Year.
Stunning Sydney display returns
Austalia is known for putting on one of the most anticipated and jaw-dropping firework displays for NYE.
After skipping last year’s event due to covid restrictions, this year the show returned in all its colourful glory over the Sydney Opera House.
Scots arrive to England in bid to avoid tougher restrictions
Revellers from Scotland arrive in Newcastle to celebrate New Years Eve after Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon closed nightclubs north of the border in an attempt to reduce the spread of the Omicron variant.
While Scotland and Wales have put in place tougher Covid rules to slow the spread of the new Omicron variant, Boris Johnson has decided against it in England and urged people to take their own precautions for New Year’s Eve.
A further 189,213 people have been infected with Covid over the past 24 hours in the UK, marking another record breaking day.
The latest data also reports 322 people have died within 28 days of a positive Covid test, a sharp rise that has been put down to a backlog of deaths from December 24-29 due to the festive period.
Will London’s Big Ben chime again for New Year’s Eve?
As one of the UK’s most iconic sounds, people will be hoping for Big Ben’s bongs to strike again for the New Year.
As well as its general use, the iconic bell sound is used symbolically for a range of events, including New Year celebrations, Remembrance Sunday and signalling the closing of polls on the day of a general election at 10pm.
The clock and bell have been hidden away behind scaffolding for four years after restoration work on the London monument began in 2017.
Recently, the repainted clock faces have been revealed from behind their metal covering as Brits once again have the chance to look upon the country’s most famous time-keeping device.
Since work got underway, the bell has only rung on a few select occasions. It was reconnected to ring for the moment the UK left the European Union and for this year’s services of remembrance in November.
The good news is that Big Ben’s renowned bongs will ring in the New Year, to introduce the UK to the unknown world of promise that lies ahead in 2022.
UK marks hottest New Year’s Eve on record
Forecasters for the Met Office say conditions are “ridiculously warm” for the time of year as the average daytime high for December is just 7.6C (45.7F) in England and Wales.
But temperatures are expected to remain as mild as 17.2C in some parts today, smashing 2011’s December 31 record of 14.8C set in Colwyn Bay in north Wales in 2011.
A recording of 14.9C has already been measured in Ryehill, East Yorkshire.
London WILL get firework display
London WILL get a surprise New Year’s Eve fireworks display after the official show was scrapped due to Covid fears.
The smaller display has finally been given the green light – less than 12 hours before Big Ben chimes in 2022.
The annual fireworks extravaganza was shelved for a second year running after Covid cases continue to rise.
But it will now go ahead tonight with live entertainment ringing in the New Year.
City Hall has tried to keep the display quiet with the fear of huge crowds gathering to watch in the capital. With the emergence of the Omicron variant, government bosses pulled the plug on the Southbank spectacular.
Brits hit by New Year’s Eve chaos amid train strikes
New Year’s Eve travel chaos is set to hit the UK with planned strikes at major stations and staff shortages due to Covid.
Brits are pouring into parts of England to welcome in the New Year after Covid restrictions tightened in the rest of the UK.
Passengers are being warned to check for delays and cancellations before they travel, amid strikes, engineering works and Covid-related staff shortages.
As many as 100,000 Scottish and Welsh punters are expected to head to England after Boris Johnson confirmed he would not be introducing new measures impacting New Year.
Staff at Edinburgh Waverly Station will be on strike for 24 hours from Friday as swathes of Scots prepare to cross the border.
CrossCountry trains to and from Glasgow will also be disrupted and run from Edinburgh instead due to engineering works.
New Year’s Eve 2021 supermarket opening times
While this year’s celebrations have been shrouded in uncertainty, there’s no doubt that people will do all they can to celebrate the year gone by and usher in the next one.
And so, it’s guaranteed that the annual supermarket plundering will still be taking place.
So, with ongoing supply chain issues affecting the UK, getting to the shops early could be vital in making sure you get hold of everything you want.
Is London having fireworks tonight?
Covid meant many New Year events, including London’s annual fireworks display were cancelled last year. But as we welcome 2022, some traditions look set to return.
Unfortunately many of the bigger fireworks displays and New Year’s Eve events in London have been cancelled due to fears of Omicron spreading.
London’s famous riverside display is one of events that has been cancelled for the second year running. Normally, thousands of people gather around Victoria Embankment to see a spectacular display with fireworks, lights and music.
A celebration at Trafalgar Square with live music, stage performers and food stands was also cancelled just before Christmas.
Quiet train stations across country
Train stations across the country appear to be quiter with dwindling numbers of passengers travelling on what is usually one of the busiest days of the year.
In reading, just a handful of passengers used rail services as thousands change NYE plans amid soaring Covid cases.
Yesterday the Government announced that no additional restrictions would be introduced before the end of the year..
The move was welcomed by the beleaguered hospitality sector and those looking to let off some steam come December 31.
Although the protection offered by the vaccine has allowed bars, clubs and pubs to stay open without the NHS being overwhelmed, the state of play is not as it was before Covid-19 emerged.
The Government has published a series of advice Brits may be wise to heed ahead of New Year’s Eve.
Blackpool New Year’s Eve fireworks display cancelled
Blackpool’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display will not longer go ahead due to strong winds.
The event was due to take place at 5pm tonight (December 31) alongside the Christmas By The Sea village on the Tower Festival Headland.
The cancellation was confirmed this morning due to a ‘forecast of strong blustery winds across the seafront’.
VisitBlackpool say that they have taken the decision based on safety advice from the company operating the planned fireworks display, reports LancsLive.
A VisitBlackpool spokesperson said: “We are really disappointed that we can’t celebrate the start of a new year in the way we had hoped, but public safety has to come first.
““Unfortunately, as the fireworks were being fired from the beach, it isn’t possible to move the time of the display to later this evening because of tidal conditions. We have therefore taken the decision to cancel now to give people the earliest opportunity to plan their day.”
A spokesperson for the fireworks company, Titanium, said: “Very reluctantly we have had to advise Blackpool Council that we will be unable to fire the show due to gusting winds from an unfavourable direction.”
How do Covid restrictions compare around the UK for New Year’s Eve?
Although tens of thousands are expected to party across the country, celebrations are expected to be more muted in all parts of the UK.
But rules vary dramatically between the four countries, with stricter restrictions and limits on the number of people allowed to gather in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Edinburgh’s traditional Hogmanay celebrations were scrapped for the second year in a row, while nightclubs are shut in Wales and Northern Ireland.
Yesterday a record number of Covid cases were announced again, with 189,213 people testing positive and 332 lives lost to the virus.
Hospitalisations have risen by nearly 33 per cent in the past week, Department of Health data shows.
New Zealand welcomes in New Year with light show
New Zealand has welcomed in the New Year with a stunnig light display in Auckland.
Crowds will be allowed to gather in Auckland for the first time since August to join in the party after the city’s Covid traffic-light settings were moved from red to orange.
LIVE: New Zealand welcomes in the New Year with a lightshow https://t.co/yCz9QwvXcY
— Reuters (@Reuters) December 31, 2021
France suspends travel ban for Brits returning after Christmas
Brits will now be allowed to travel through France if they live in other EU countries and want to return home after a visit to the UK over the festive period.
France has suspended its ban on Brits, who are resident in other EU countries, heading through the country – which had been put in place due to the threat from the Omicron Covid variant.
Non-essential travel from the UK to France has been largely prohibited since December 18 in a bid to slow the Covid spread.
But those rules effectively created a ban on travellers attempting to return to any EU country other than France by Eurotunnel, Eurostar or ferry.
The advice on the UK government’s website states: “The French authorities confirmed on December 30 that UK nationals who are resident in other EU member states and who have travelled to the UK for the Christmas period will be able to transit France over the New Year period in order to return home to their country of residence.
Australia ‘determined to ring in New Year’
Australia is determined to ring in the New Year with a bang despite surges in infections to record levels in some places.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison told people to “enjoy the evening”, while Dominic Perrottet, premier of New South Wales state, urged everyone to “head out and enjoy New Year” even as daily infections in the state nearly doubled to a record 21,151.
Perrottet said he took heart from higher levels of vaccination and the fact that hospitals were coping with the Omicron wave.
“Our position remains incredibly strong,”