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Lighting up London

London welcomes new year with fireworks
London welcomes new year with fireworks
Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images

By David Stewart White

New York drops the ball on New Years, but London lights up. The ball dropping above New York's Times Square is a long-time and almost unchanging New Year's event, but London's fireworks extravaganza is a more recent vintage.

The London event began as part of the Millennium celebrations at midnight on January 1, 2000. The huge fireworks display along the River Thames was seen by millions onsite and via television. But the fireworks fizzled and London was a New Years no-show until 2003. In 2005, pyrotechnics first fired from the London Eye observation wheel and in 2012 fireworks were launched from atop Big Ben to welcome in the 2012 Olympics year.

The show goes on as London welcomes in 2014, but the fireworks display's future is a bit up in the air. According to local news site LondonSE1, London's mayor considered scaling back or eliminating the New Years fireworks display.

But the 2014 event will go on, sponsored in part by communications giant Vodafone. New for this New Years—a "multi-sensory" fireworks display complete with fruit smells wafting through key viewing areas (obviously, the televised coverage will be a bit more one-dimensional). But as befits the event sponsorship, a London New Years phone app will be available from Vodafone.