London Will Get Surprise Fireworks Tonight With Restored Big Ben Ringing in New Year


The traditional London fireworks display over the Thames and by the seat of government by the Palace of Westminster was cancelled for the second year in a row, but with just hours to go before the new year is rung in, it has been revealed a fireworks display has been planned in secret and will in fact go ahead tonight.

Citing coronavirus concerns, London’s annual firework display — one of many worldwide in major global cities that see the new year in as the earth turns — was cancelled in 2020, and in October the 2021 display was announced to have been cancelled too.

There was renewed hope the show may have been given the go-ahead last week when the government announced there would be no new restrictions for New Year’s Eve — unlike in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — but even as recently as the 28th the Mayor’s office was insisting there was no show to be seen.

Yet today, with just hours to go before the end of 2021, it was claimed in British tabloid The Sun that a fireworks display had been planned in secret for tonight, with the show kept under-wraps from the public to discourage people from physically attending the event. Revellers have been encouraged to stay at home and watch the display on television.

The Sun’s report claimed that recent stories outlining research that the omicron variant of Coronavirus was less severe than some feared had informed the decision to allow the display to go ahead.

Enhancing the display is the fact that it will take place in front of the newly unshrouded upper reaches of the Elizabeth clock tower, commonly known around the world for its bell ‘Big Ben’, which has been wrapped in scaffolding since 2017. With cleaned stonework and freshly applied gold leaf to details, the tower also features an authentic original blue colour scheme that hasn’t been seen in living memory.

According to The Guardian, it is reported the original blue — likely a nod to medieval polychromy given the colourful gothic revival design of the palace — was likely overpainted with black in the 1930s to hide the effects of smoke pollution.

While Big Ben will ring in the new year with its temporary striker mechanism, it is reported this is hoped to be the last major event to use it, and the clock will return to using its intended original mechanism from early 2022, as the restoration completes.

The New Year’s Eve party in Trafalgar Square which has also traditionally met New Year’s Eve was also cancelled earlier this year and remains cancelled, Mayor Sadiq Khan confirmed today as he urged Londoners to stay away.

Speaking about tonight’s displays, Mayor Khan said it would celebrate the best of 2021. The remark may be telegraphing that the lights — normally an apolitical event — could mirror last year’s display, which again was cancelled and then took place as a surprise at the last moment. The controversial BLM-inspired light show even used synchronised drones to create an enormous clenched fist in the sky above the capital.

As it did, a recorded female voice boomed out: “This is one voice with one message: Black Lives Matter”.

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