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Tuesday, October 5, 1999 Published at 12:15 GMT 13:15 UK


Tonight we're going to stay in like it's 1999

Less than three months to go, and suddenly the question people have been putting off for months seems a bit more pressing.

What to do on New Year's Eve?

[ image: Fancy heading to Trafalgar Square for traditional New Year festivities?]
Fancy heading to Trafalgar Square for traditional New Year festivities?
For years people have been living with the expectation that the dawning of 2000 would be reason for a special knees-up.

But could it be that the ultimate event will fall victim to the ultimate hype fatigue?

In other words, will people be so fed up with the pressure of finding something to do which is sufficiently memorable, celebratory, drunken or significant that they will decide to have none of it?

Less is more, some people's thinking goes; what could be more memorable than spending the evening at home, or with a few close friends or - horror! - even your family.

Click here to tell us what you think.

More than half of the UK plans to stay at home, a survey last month found.

Fewer than one in three expected to be out partying at all, and only 14% thought they would be out at public parties, the survey for the Lincoln Financial Group found.

It's a feeling which has scuppered a planned New Year's Eve concert by M People. The band blamed their fans' lack of enthusiasm for the gig on the cost of travel and babysitting, and a reaction to millennium hype.

One babysitting agency which had 500 willing staff lined up for the big night has reported having no calls at all inquiring about its services.

And reports suggest that as many as one in five pubs and restaurants could just shut up shop for the night.

Don't believe the hype?

It was only a few weeks ago that the eclipse was billed as the big event of the year, amid predictions that the whole of the UK's south west would be engulfed in a wave of sun seekers.

[ image: Many people headed west for the eclipse, but not as many as expected]
Many people headed west for the eclipse, but not as many as expected
There were huge clouds, but not huge crowds. And even an old hand like pop promoter Harvey Goldsmith came a cropper from the failure for the hype to come true.

The man who organised Live Aid, helped to bring Pavarotti to the masses, and is behind the scenes at this weekend's NetAid concert and the Millennium Dome pop extravaganza, lost an estimated 1m on the venture.

The expected 25,000 did not turn up; there were just 8,000 and Goldsmith's company went belly up as a result.

Horror stories

So could horror stories about how busy and expensive things will be, which damaged the eclipse celebrations, do the same for the Year 2000 shindig?

Dr David Lewis: "It's going to be downbeat"
Psychologist Dr David Lewis, who analysed the results of the staying at home survey, said he thought people had indeed been turned off by several things about the impending celebration.

"It's looks as if it we're heading for a very quiet new year, and that staying in is the new going out.

[ image: New Year working rates. Source: Incomes Data Services]
New Year working rates. Source: Incomes Data Services
Practical difficulties had put people off, he said. "I think people are much less impressed by hype than they used to be. The mood is for buzz, for word of mouth endorsements, rather than paid-for hype."

He said this move was being seen in things like the film the Blair Witch Project, made on a very low budget, which nevertheless attracted huge amounts of interest.

"I think that's the way things are going to be, and that hype is going to be much less effective," he said.

"People feel New Year is an important occasion and one they would rather share with their family than with strangers. They are seeing the home option as being more hassle free."

But for those who already have millennial hype fatigue, there is not much consolation yet. It won't even all be over by Christmas.

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