Weather and the economy are the reason millions are likely to spend Monday night at home. But there’s always Jools …
Battered by rain and fearful of what the future may bring, millions of Britons are preparing to celebrate this New Year’s Eve quietly at home.
Some local authorities have cancelled New Year Eve parties and firework displays because of budget cuts, as economic insecurity stalks the country, with economists warning of a further contraction.
Ruth James, director of Fusion events in Manchester, said that the trend this year was towards quieter events, often at home.
“People are tending to go for smaller, private affairs, lots of dinners and house parties. I know of a few private warehouse parties. I’m going to a dinner myself,” she said. “People are feeling the pressure of New Year’s Eve, the pressure to have a good time, so they want smaller and more manageable events which are less pressured and, most importantly, much cheaper.”
The focus on the home was borne out by a survey of 2,000 Britons, which found that 83% of them planned to see in the new year with family and friends. Some 81% of these intended to stay at home, watching television or having a meal, while 12% planned to play host and receive guests.
The survey, which was carried out for Morrisons supermarket, found that the average person spent £78.20 on a night out on New Year’s Eve, including £36.20 on food, £26.30 on drink and £9 on travel.
Supermarkets said that they hoped to sell a record amount of sparkling wine to customers who had decided to celebrate at home, with many drinking their toast not in champagne but cheaper prosecco.
Even Time Out, the normally ebullient listings magazine, seemed to have lost its interest in bright lights and big events. One of the London-based magazine’s writers wrote: “As New Year’s Eve rapidly approaches, you’d be forgiven for wanting to sack the whole thing off, stay in, and give Jools Holland another chance.”
Another newspaper guide advised readers to start their new year resolutions early and forgo a night of celebrations in favour of exercise or even an early bedtime.
For those happy to take on the weather, there is no shortage of events across the United Kingdom.
The city of Derry is opening its year as City of Culture with a fireworks display on the River Foyle. In Allendale, in Northumbria, people will take part in a pagan ceremony in which they march in costume carrying burning barrels filled with tar which are thrown into a bonfire, while in Newquay a fancy-dress street party and firework display takes place.
In Manchester, the city council finally agreed to host a fireworks display when a local businessman provided funding. In London, there will be fireworks along the Thames as well as the traditional gatherings in Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square.
While many people may have forgotten what a rainless night looks like, weather forecasters predict that New Year’s Eve will be dry in many places.
Andy Yateman of the Met Office said that the south-east of England would have heavy showers early in the day but should be clear by midnight.
“There is a chance of showers in Northern Ireland and Scotland through the night, particularly in the west of Scotland. Chances of rain are around 10-20% in the south-east and 60% in the west of Scotland, with many places likely to have a dry night,” he said. “It’s not completely dry, but far better than it has been.”
“Temperatures will range from 4-5 degrees in the south-east to just above zero in the centre of Scotland.”