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The BBC's Nick Higham
"Outside the political attacks continued"
 real 56k

Dome Chief Executive, Pierre-Yves Gerbeau
"We are going out with a big bang"
 real 56k

Monday, 1 January, 2001, 01:39 GMT
Music drowns out Dome's end
Ministry of Sound rave
20,000 clubbers dance the New Year in
The Millennium Dome hosted an all-night party in its grounds for 20,000 clubbers as it shut its doors for the last time.

Price of the Dome
Latest estimated total: 854m
February: 60m emergency grant from Millennium Commission
May: 29m from commission
43m from commission
September: 47m from commission
Tickets to Britain's biggest organised New Year's event sold out a month in advance.

The extravaganza was hosted by London nightclub Ministry of Sound with 40 DJs appearing in five arenas and a cinema for 3,000 people.

The party, which cost 1m to stage, was held in buildings around the Dome.

Speaking before the party, Ministry of Sound director C M Harper said drugs would not be tolerated at the event.

Tickets with a face value of 35 changed hands for as much as 200 on the night.

Among the early arrivals was Big Brother star "Nasty" Nick Bateman.

He said: "This time last year I was very unhappy and now I'm very happy. It's been a rollercoaster year."

Final show

The event came hours after the Millennium Dome closed its doors for the final time following a final rush of visitors.

PY Gerbeau surrounded by Dome staff
Show's over: Dome boss P-Y Gerbeau thanks his staff

The Greenwich attraction, which has been the centre of so much controversy over the year, closed at 1800 GMT on Sunday after a final performance of the Millennium Show, followed by a short ceremony and fireworks.

The Dome's chief executive, Pierre-Yves Gerbeau paid an emotional thank you to all the performers and backroom staff and applauded the public for their support.

He said it was "a very sad day" but added that all his staff could be proud that they had been part of a "world class attraction" which had been visited by almost 6.5m people.

December has been the best month for visitors, with more than 60,000 coming through its doors this weekend alone.

Cherie Blair and three of her children were among those to pay a final visit to the Dome on Sunday. Mrs Blair said it was "fantastic".

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, who visited the attraction on Saturday with his family, was there again on Sunday to attend the closing ceremony.

Technology park

The attraction is due to be bought by Legacy Plc which plans to turn it into a technology park.

Cherie Blair visits the Dome
Cherie Blair was among the 27,000 visitors on Sunday
Acrobat Paul Rowley, who is part of the Millennium Show, said he was sad the Dome was closing.

He said cast members would now be auditioning for shows around the world and some had formed their own companies with other performers they had met at the Dome.

As New Year's Day dawns over the familiar Greenwich landmark, it will mark the end of a turbulent 12 months for the operators and the Labour government.

The year-long attendance figure will be more than twice as many as that of top attractions such as Alton Towers or Madame Tussauds, but well short of the 12 million originally forecast by the NMEC.

The inaccuracy of the prediction resulted in the company repeatedly going cap in hand to the National Lottery for more money.

The contents of the Dome are to be auctioned in a sale that could yield up to 10m.

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See also:

31 Dec 00 | Newsmakers
P-Y Gerbeau: King of the Dome
19 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Blair pays tribute to Dome staff
20 Nov 00 | Business
Legacy given Dome go-ahead
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