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Midland: Fireworks light up city for New Year welcome.

There might not have been a city-organised party or concert but Birmingham ushered in the New Year in spectacular fashion with a thundering fireworks display.

The city council decided to scrap the traditional New Year's Eve celebrations, which would have cost pounds 170,000, and opted instead to spend the money on a pre-Christmas festive programme and last night's midnight firework display which cost pounds 35,000.

The night sky was lit up and the explosions heard miles away as fireworks were set off from four locations across the city centre, with the Rotunda resembling a huge Roman candle. Emergency services said there had been no major problems reported on the night.

Elsewhere, London Underground praised its staff as an estimated 200,000 revellers defied the Tube strike to celebrate the New Year on the streets of the capital - 50,000 more than last year.

They were among millions of partygoers who saw in 2006 with celebrations across the UK. In Edinburgh 100,000 gathered to see a firework spectacular, mirroring the glittering display that lit up the skies of London.

Crowds packed into London's Trafalgar Square and thronged the Embankment, undeterred by fears that the 24-hour strike called by the RMT union would lead to travel chaos. Just 31 of the 275 London Underground stations were closed due to lack of staff and British Transport Police said the evening passed "very well indeed" with no reports of overcrowding.

The spokesman said services were running on all lines yesterday morning but about 40 stations were closed.

The strike was called by the RMT over the implications of the introduction of a new 35-hour week.

Crowds returned to central London yesterday, thronging the pavements to watch the annual New Year parade.

Just 12 hours after 200,000 people filled the area around Westminster to see in 2006, large numbers of spectators turned out to see the floats and marching bands pass along the 2.2-mile route from Parliament Square.

People stood ten-deep on the pavement in Whitehall, making any progress very slow, while police kept a watchful eye on the crowds. Organisers said up to 450,000 people were expected to see the parade, which is in its 20th year, at some point on the route.

About 10,000 people performed in the parade, including 4,500 from overseas. Attractions included giant helium-filled balloons 100ft above the street, vintage cars, and 40 marching bands.

In Edinburgh, 100,000 gathered in the main thoroughfare to welcome in 2006.

Partygoers were spared the atrocious weather which blighted much of the afternoon in the city and which forced the event to be cancelled two years ago. The main event was the free Royal Bank Street Party in Princes Street, which was limited to the 100,000 lucky enough to have a ticket.


New Year fireworks are set off over Birmingham. Below, locals throw themselves into the Firth of Forth for the Loony Dook swim as part of the Hogmanay celebrations near Edinburgh
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 2, 2006
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