London Fireworks

On the 31st December 2004 I took the then Miss P to see the New Year firework display in London. Traditionally, the London authority responsible would put on a very feeble display in Trafalgar Square. Quite frankly, it was more entertaining watching people jumping into the fountain pools in sub zero temperatures. There were always a few hardy souls who were stupid enough to take the plunge. But in 2003, the display was held by the London Eye, with crowds assembled across the other side of Old Father Thames, and it’s stayed there ever since. Fortunately, no one, to my knowledge, has been quite stupid enough to jump into the Thames for a splash around.

The fireworks were an improvement on what used to be passed of as a display. But they were still all a bit ‘meh’. We’d wish for the sort of show they put on in New York or Sydney. In 2012, however, things changed. Big Ben chimed in London’s Olympic year, and they did something a bit special with the fireworks. They’ve been doing it ever since. Perhaps New York and Sydney natives wish their cities did the sort of show we have in London.

In 2004, Miss P had been in the UK for little more than 24 hours. It seemed appropriate to go for a repeat visit on the 10th anniversary of her trip, along with a couple of friends. This year the show was ticketed, with a fairly reasonable price tag of £10 per person. It’s normally free, but I can understand the logic behind the decision to charge. It’s a pretty expensive show. But there is a bigger issue. It could get a bit dodgy when half a million people stroll up and try and cram themselves onto a small stretch of embankment. If anything were to go wrong….

The charge and quality of the display weren’t the only things to have changed of course. Miss P is now Mrs P. We are both ten years older. Hopefully we are similarly wiser. The show was fantastic, and well worth the money. The weather was kind too. It was a crisp and chilly night, but above zero and dry. We had the perfect spot, directly across from the London Eye. The coloured explosions completely filled my field of vision. And that of the other 99,999 ticket holders. Well, those that weren’t watching it through their phones, anyway.

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Watching it on television is great, but it doesn’t come close to capturing the scale and intensity of the display. Not least because the finale seems to burn out the television camera lenses and the last few cataclysmic seconds of it all disappears into a white blur. The finale is dramatic and almost overwhelming when viewed from the embankment.

Getting away after the final rocket had detonated was easier said than done. The five minute stroll back to Westminster station took fifteen minutes. Not that you could catch a train. The station was closed. As was St James Park. On to Victoria we went. Two hours had passed by the time by finally stepped on the tube. Another two hours driving down the motorway and were were in bed by 5am. Photos? Of course. Click here.

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