Britons have kicked off their celebrations for a New Year’s Eve like no other as early fireworks erupt across the country to bid good riddance to 2020.
Eager revellers are saying goodbye to a trying year from the comfort of their living rooms as nearly all of the country is under the harshest two lockdown tiers.
All of England – except 2,000 residents on the Isles of Scilly – have faced Tiers 3 and 4 since midnight last night, forcing all bars and pubs to shut except for takeaways.
Restrictions have also cancelled traditional celebrations and firework shows, forcing Britons to set off their own back-garden displays.
Fireworks lit up the sky over Newcastle tonight in an incredible display watched by thousands from their windows.
Normally-bustling Trafalgar Square in London was eerily deserted with officials putting up barriers to keep rule breakers away.
Scotland’s traditional Hogmanay celebrations have been moved online this year, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon earlier warning people to celebrate ‘responsibly and in line with the restrictions’.
She added: ‘To be clear, and I take no pleasure in saying this, that means no gatherings, no house parties, no first-footing. Instead, we should bring in 2021 in our own homes with just our own households.’
BLACKPOOL: Blackpool – another traditional New Year’s Eve hotspot – was equally abandoned by rule-abiding citizens who stayed at home
LONDON: The brightly-lit Christmas tree in Trafalgar square in the capital stood alone as large barriers blocked off rule-breaking pedestrians
LONDON: Normally-bustling Trafalgar Square in London was eerily deserted with officials putting up barriers to keep rule breakers away
EDINBURGH: Scotland’s traditional Hogmanay celebrations have been moved online this year leaving streets deserted (pictured), with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon earlier warning people to celebrate ‘responsibly and in line with the restrictions’
EDINBURGH: The city was nearly-empty today as traditional celebrations were moved online. Just a handful of people walked the streets
LONDON: Images of the deserted streets of London this year (The Mall, pictured) were a stark contrast to the bustling crowds last year (left)
EDINBURGH: In 2019 a large Christmas Market was in Princes Street Gardens n Edinburgh and several live music stages were erected on the city streets (left). This year, however, the same streets were almost empty due to Covid rules (right)
EDINBURGH: The Royal Mile in Edinburgh this evening resembled a ghost town as weary Scots followed Government advice and stayed at home
LONDON: A man holds a sparkler in front of the London Eye, in what would normally be a ticket-only area filled to capacity waiting for the annual fireworks display
LONDON: A busker performs to a handful of people in Covent Garden on New Year’s Eve this year as lockdown rule put a halt to normal gatherings
EDINBURGH: The streets of the Scottish city were empty tonight. Strings of Christmas lights and brightly-lit shops cast an eerie glow over the pavement
LONDON: Soho’s normally-bustling streets were nearly empty this evening as London’s bars, pubs and restaurants remain shut
EDINBURGH: Locals walked past a shut pub in Edinburgh as Hogmanay celebrations take place online this year
LONDON: Buckingham Palace in London was deserted tonight – in stark contrast to last year – as revellers opted to stay at home instead
CARDIFF: The streets of Cardiff were empty tonight – in contrast to last year – as the country remains under its highest alert level
LONDON: Police officers stand guard in London to deter rule-breaking revellers on New Year’s Eve while the city remains under Tier 4 lockdown
CARDIFF: The streets of Cardiff are usually a hotspot for eager New Year’s Eve revellers. They were empty this year due to lockdown
LONDON: A trio of police officers keep watch over Leicester Square this evening, with two pedestrians seen walking past. The Government hopes eople will stick to Tier 4 rules and celebrate New Year’s Eve at home
LONDON: Parliament Square is empty, except for a few police officers standing guard near a gate. People around the country are celebrating New year’s Eve differently this year, holding their festivities at home
LONDON: Two police officers speak to a group of people this evening as Tier 4 restrictions mean New Year’s Eve celebrations must be held in people’s own homes rather than out partying
LONDON: The London Eye cuts a lonely figure in the centre of London this evening, with the usual New Year’s Eve crowds advised to stay home and celebrate safely
NEWCASTLE: A number of people stand around outside a restaurant on Newcastle’s Quayside this evening. Some of them are seen holding and enjoying drinks
LONDON: Police officers and stewards are seen in Piccadilly Circus in a near-deserted London on New Year’s Eve
LONDON: People stand outside a pub that is open for takeaway drinks during the New Year’s Eve. London is in Tier 4 meaning pubs are takeaway-only
LONDON: The Mall leading up to Buckingham Palace in London was nearly-deserted as New Year’s Eve parties were banned under Covid lockdown rules
GLASGOW: Party hotspot Glasgow was also empty tonight as revellers were urged to celebrate at home this year
GLASGOW: Hogmanay in Scotland has moved online this year to ensure that huge crowds don’t gather in breach of Covid lockdown rules
Blackpool – another traditional New Year’s Eve hotspot – was equally abandoned by rule-abiding citizens who stayed at home.
Meanwhile in Primrose Hill, revellers gathered outdoors in their household groups to watch people’s back-garden fireworks erupt across the city’s skyline.
Even though the rules are clear in banning gatherings, thousands still plan on attending illegal raves and street parties. But 96 per cent of Britons plan to stay home tonight, according to a YouGov poll.
Getting a head start on the stay-at-home festivities, countless Twitter users have shared hilarious memes as they bid farewell to 2020. Others shared pictures of their quiet New Year’s Eve indoors.
LONDON: A large group of people appear to start celebrating New Year’s Eve together at Piccadilly Circus only moments after police officers and stewards leave the area to patrol other parts of the capital
LONDON: A few people stand around a large Christmas tree in Covent Garden, central London, as thousands prepare to celebrate seeing the back of 2020 from their own homes, rather than out partying or enjoying normal celebrations
LONDON: Covent Garden’s Christmas tree is a popular spot for New Year’s Eve walkers this evening as small crowds are seen gathered around it
EDINBURGH: The icy streets of Edinburgh reflected the light from streetlamps tonight as the pavements remained empty
EDINBURGH: A salt spreader is seen on the streets of Edinburgh tonight as temperatures plummet in the Scottish city
EDINBURGH: Snow is seen on the pavement in Edinburgh as Covid lockdown keeps locals inside on New Year’s Eve
EDINBURGH: The Royal Mile in Edinburgh was empty except for a few New Year’s Eve walkers who braved the icy weather
NEWCASTLE: The council set off an amazing firework display over Newcastle on New Year’s Eve. The fireworks erupted from five secret locations so as to avoid crowds forming to watch them
NEWCASTLE: Fireworks lit up the city’s skyline tonight as countless Britons looked on from the comfort of their own homes due to lockdown restrictions. The fireworks were set off from secret locations at 6pm
NEWCASTLE: Britons have kicked off their celebrations for a New Year’s Eve like no other as early fireworks are set off across the country to bid good riddance to 2020. Newcastle City Council set off the display from secret locations
NEWCASTLE: Fireworks lit up the sky over Newcastle tonight in an incredible display watched by thousands from their windows
LONDON: A single pedestrian crosses the road in Soho, central London, this evening. The area which is normally full of life is completely empty this New year’s Eve with people celebrating the end of the year from home
LONDON: Two police officers stand guard in central London this evening to ensure people stick to the Tier 4 restrictions and stay at home this New Years Eve
LONDON: A cyclist makes their way down a street in Soho, London, tonight as a small number of others wander along the pavement
LONDON: A single car is see parked on a deserted Frith Street in Soho this evening. The area is normally packed with people celebrating the end of the year, but at the end of 2020, the streets are quiet
NEWCASTLE: A man carrying a crate of beer walks down an abandoned street in the heart of Newcastle tonight. The city centre usually boasts large crowds on New Year’s Eve but this year, thanks to lockdown restrictions, the area is a ghost town
NEWCASTLE: The city centre which normally hosts thousands on New Year’s Eve is completely deserted. Tier 4 restrictions in the city mean people are staying home to welcome the new year
NEWCASTLE: A lone person walks down an abandoned street in the heart of Newcastle city centre, which is being patrolled by police to ensure people don’t break lockdown rules
NEWCASTLE: Streets such as Grey Street (pictured) at the centre of Newcastle usually see thousands of people out celebrating to welcome in the new year, but at the end of 2020, the streets are empty
NEWCASTLE: A single police officer wanders the streets in Newcastle city centre to ensure people stick to the Tier 4 lockdown rules during New Years Eve
It was a different story across the world, however, as nations who avoided the worst of the pandemic were able to have a more-normal celebration.
In New Zealand, where only 25 people have ever died of Covid-19 and restrictions are virtually non-existent, crowds of partygoers packed into Auckland streets for midnight fireworks.
In Australia, which has also fended off the worst of the pandemic, life was normal enough for some revellers to gather in Melbourne and Sydney.
And in Wuhan – where the virus first surfaced at the very end of 2019 before spiralling catastrophically around the globe – hundreds gathered at landmarks around the city to welcome in the new year.
In what is sure to spark envy in many countries still subject to strict lockdown measures, party-goers were filmed crowding into a live music event in the former-Covid epicentre.
Many opted to go mask-free inside the venue where revellers danced just inches from each other.
But for most of the world’s seven billion people, a grinding year is ending with typically muted festivities, with fireworks, pyre burnings and live performances set to be watched from home or cancelled altogether.
From France to Latvia to Brazil, police and military personnel are being deployed to enforce night-time curfews and bans on large gatherings are enforced, with much of the world still in lockdown and the vaccine race only just beginning.
WUHAN: Balloons were released into the sky in an incredible display in Wuhan. Huge crowds gathered in the city which was the Covid-19 epicentre less than a year ago
WUHAN: Amazed locals took photos of balloons being released into the sky to bring in 2021. The crowds weren’t socially distanced but many opted to wear face masks
WUHAN: In what is sure to spark envy in many countries still subject to strict lockdown measures, party-goers were filmed crowding into a live music event in the former-Covid epicentre
WUHAN: Partygoers, mostly wearing protective face masks, gathered in the streets of Wuhan to welcome 2021
WUHAN: Partygoers posed for a selfie in front of buildings lit up in bright colours. Wuhan had a more-normal New Year’s Eve than many others across the globe
WUHAN: Huge crowds were seen on the streets of Wuhan on New Year’s Eve. Once the virus epicentre, lockdown rules have since been significantly relaxed in the city
WUHAN: Crowds of people were seen on the streets of Wuhan tonight. Many looked overjoyed to say goodbye to 2020
WUHAN: Vast crowds were seen gathered on the streets of Wuhan as a new year countdown ushers in 2021
WUHAN: Huge crowds attended a live music event in Wuhan. Many people were seen dancing along to performers on New Year’s Eve
WUHAN: Incredible images of the huge crowds of people gathered on the streets of Wuhan were shared to social media
WUHAN: Women wearing masks hold up balloons as the Chinese city which shot to infamy in 2020 after giving the world the coronavirus counted down to 2021
WUHAN: Thousands gathered at popular landmarks across the city centre for the countdown to 2021. Some revellers said they were being cautious but were not particularly worried
WUHAN: In Wuhan, where the virus first surfaced at the very end of 2019 before spiralling catastrophically around the globe, revellers partied to welcome the new year in
WUHAN: People pose for pictures on the banks of the Yangtze River on New Year’s Eve in the city which became synonymous with the virus in the early weeks of the outbreak
VIETNAM: Pyrotechnics explode over Turtle Tower on Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi amid the coronavirus pandemic
IRAQ: People gather at Tahrir square before the New Year celebrations in Baghdad this evening
THAILAND: Fireworks erupt over Chao Phraya river during the fireworks show for New Year’s Eve in Bangkok
INDIA: Delhi police officers patrol at a checkpoint near Connaught Place ahead of night curfew from 11pm to 6am to avoid gatherings for the New Year celebrations due to the pandemic
DUBAI: Dubai celebrates the New Year in India by reflecting its national flag on the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. India and the United Arab Emirates share close ties in many sectors
INDONESIA: Celebrations tonight in Jakarta, as an array of red and yellow fireworks light up the sky
SINGAPORE: Crowds gathered in Singapore to welcome in the New Year. Many took photographs while wearing their protective face masks
SINGAPORE: Crowds were seen gathered along a bridge to usher in the new year. There was no firework show this year, but many opted to head outdoors to see the lights
HONG KONG: Two women wearing light-up head bands pose for a photograph in Hong Kong as they bringin the new year
HONG KONG: Crowds of people – all wearing face masks – gathered along the water front in Hong Kong to welcome 2021
HONG KONG: Amazed onlookers snapped pictures of the city lights in Hong Kong. The amazing skyline lit up the night’s sky
TAIWAN: Huge crowds gathered to watch the new year fireworks in Taipei on New Year’s Eve. The spectacular shower of lights erupted from the sides of a building
AUCKLAND: In scenes unthinkable in most of the world, 2020 ended with crowds of revellers packed into Queen Street in New Zealand’s largest city, as the country became one of the first to greet the dawn of 2021
MELBOURNE: These two partygoers started the new year with a kiss as revellers greeted the dawn of 2021 with a party at Federation Square in Australia’s second-largest city today
QUEENSLAND: Partygoers in Queensland paused for a snack while wearing ‘Happy New Year’ hats. Australia managed to avoid the worst of the pandemic
MELBOURNE: Vast crowds of people sat on the grass in Melbourne as they waited to welcome in the new year. Some wore masks while many others didn’t
MELBOURNE: Two women sat on other people’s shoulders as they celebrated New Year’s Eve on a beach in Melbourne. Several onlookers filmed to festivities
MELBOURNE: Huge crowds gathered on a beach in St Kilda, Melbourne, on New Year’s Eve. Many didn’t wear masks
MELBOURNE: Partygoers went mask-free as they danced the last few moments of 2020 away in St Kilda, Melbourne, tonight
AUCKLAND: Fireworks streamed from the SkyTower in New Zealand in the first moments of January 1, 2021 as an exhausted world started to put a year of disease, death and unparalleled restrictions on normal life behind it
QUEENSLAND: One couple kissed to welcome in the New Year in Queensland. Australia has fended off the worst of the pandemic
MELBOURNE: A woman was seen posing for pictures on the streets of St Kilda, Melbourne, as she welcomed in the new year
QUEENSLAND: A crowd of revellers dressed in matching white outfits and wearing ‘Happy New Year’ crowns pose for a photo
QUEENSLAND: One group posed for a picture with their arms around each other as they welcomed in the new year in Australia
SYDNEY: The fireworks were as spectacular as ever at Sydney Harbour Bridge but there were few spectators in the harbour to greet the opening moments of January 1, 2021
MELBOURNE: In In Australia, which has also fended off the worst of the pandemic, life was normal enough for small crowds to gather in Melbourne and Sydney
AUCKLAND: In New Zealand, where only 25 people have ever died of Covid-19 and restrictions are virtually non-existent, crowds of partygoers packed into Auckland streets to mark the new year
SYDNEY: Fireworks explode over Sydney’s opera house and harbour bridge as celebrations begin in the first seconds of 2021
AUCKLAND: Fireworks went off as New Zealand became the first major country to cross the invisible threshold and enter 2021, after a year in which it became a rare success story during the global coronavirus pandemic
MELBOURNE: Two people take a selfie in front of a neon Happy New Year sign in the last hours of December 31 in Australia
MELBOURNE: Some revellers were seen in the city on New Year’s Eve, in a part of Australia which saw a major outbreak in the Southern Hemisphere winter but has since returned to very low levels of infection
SYDNEY: New Year revellers enjoyed drinks at the Opera Bar in Sydney as midnight approached, with the firework display shortened and crowds kept to a minimum because of coronavirus
VLADIVOSTOK: Fireworks explode over the city centre as Russia’s far east became one of the first places to see 2021
WUHAN: In the city where the coronavirus first surfaced a year ago, a light show was projected on buildings by a river on New Year’s Eve as China holds low-key events to mark January 1 in a country where the Lunar New Year is more prominent
NEW YORK CITY: A stage was put up in Times Square where the famous ball drop will take place at midnight, but police will block spectators from gathering to get a glimpse
Although New Zealand is still isolated by international border closures, months of zero recorded cases in the community have allowed life to return to relative normality – with crowds gathering for fireworks in Auckland in scenes which would seem unthinkable to most of the world.
In Sydney, fireworks lit up the glittering harbour with a dazzling display at midnight, but few spectators were there to watch in person.
Plans to allow crowds were scrapped amid a cluster of around 150 new infections that have seen travel to and from Sydney severely restricted.
People were only allowed in Sydney city centre if they have a restaurant reservation or are one of five guests of an inner-city apartment resident. People will not be allowed in the city centre without a permit.
‘I think everybody is looking towards 2021 as a fresh beginning and a fresh start,’ Karen Roberts, among the lucky few who were allowed past checkpoints around the area, said at a bar near the Sydney Opera House.
Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide cancelled their displays to avoid large gatherings and possible community transmission of the virus.
Kiribati and Samoa were the first to cross the threshold of 2021 at 10am GMT, with the last Pacific islands set to follow them 26 hours later.
Although the Pacific islands were spared the worst ravages of the pandemic, border restrictions, curfews and lockdowns meant this New Year’s Eve was still a little different.
At the palm-fringed Taumeasina resort in Samoa, manager Tuiataga Nathan Bucknall was pleased to be open without a limit on guest numbers, but thanks to a state of emergency stopped serving alcohol at 11 pm.
In harder-hit countries such as Italy – where shocking images of makeshift morgues and exhausted medics first awoke the world to the horror of the pandemic last spring – curfews and lockdowns are still in force.
In London, American singer-songwriter Patti Smith will ring in the New Year with a tribute to NHS workers who have died from Covid-19, projected on the screen at Piccadilly Circus and streamed on YouTube.
And in New York, the famous ball drop in Times Square will unfold this year without the usual throngs of cheering revellers. Police will block off the area so that spectators cannot even get a glimpse.
LONDON: Fencing was put up around parts of Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square ahead of New Year’s Eve, with London and most of the UK’s population effectively back in lockdown because of resurgent coronavirus cases
AUCKLAND: A spectacular firework display erupts from the SkyTower as the first major nation to cross the threshold in to 2021 became almost the only one to hold full-throated New Year festivities
AUCKLAND: Crowds begin to gather by the waterfront in New Zealand, which sealed its borders early in the pandemic and has suffered only 2,162 infections and 25 deaths all year, numbers which seem miraculous in most of the West
MELBOURNE: People walk past Flinders Street station during Australian New Year’s Eve celebrations in the last hours of 2020
SYDNEY: People have dinner on the waterfront in Australia, one of the first nations to cross the threshold of 2021 and also one of the few where the country’s relative success against the pandemic means that some degree of festivities can take place
MELBOURNE: A group of people queue for a venue with no social distancing or mask, a scene unthinkable in much of the world during the long months of the pandemic and resulting lockdown
MELBOURNE: Although some people were able to gather in person, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide have cancelled their displays to avoid large gathering and community transmission of the virus
SYDNEY: Police are seen patrolling an eerily quiet Circular Quay on New Year’s Eve as Sydneysiders are encouraged to watch the midnight fireworks display from home
SYDNEY: After darkness fell, there were boats in the harbour but only a few spectators were allowed past checkpoints around the area to watch the midnight fireworks in person
SYDNEY: A group of mates clad in sombreros head into Sydney’s city to farewell 2020 – but they won’t have much company
VLADIVOSTOK: People gather around a Christmas tree in the far east of Russia, where some parts of the giant country were among the first to cross the threshold of 2021
Since it surfaced in China in late 2019, the coronavirus has infected more than 80million people and led to nearly 1.8million deaths, the majority of them in Europe and the Americas.
Although mass vaccination efforts have begun in many countries in recent weeks, offering hope that the end of the pandemic is in sight, it is likely to be months before normal life can return in most of the world.
In China, where the Lunar New Year generally takes precedence over January 1, a countdown ceremony will take place in Beijing with just a few invited guests while other planned events have been cancelled.