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The BBC's David Shukman
"Tonight will see the biggest street celebrations ever seen in Britain"
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The London Eye
"The opening of the Millennium Wheel"
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Saturday, 1 January, 2000, 00:37 GMT
UK welcomes 21st century

Fireworks Fireworks light up the London skyline

As Big Ben chimed midnight the River Thames in London was lit up by fireworks - marking the moment Greenwich Mean Time clicked into the next 1,000 years.

The UK entered the third millennium with an explosion of fireworks, music, lasers, beacons and dance.

Up to three million people celebrated in central London alone and there were huge street parties across the rest of the country including Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Manchester, Birmingham, Plymouth and Londonderry.

The Dome show Guests at the Dome witnessed a spectacular show
In London police reported only about 50 arrests despite crowds of up to two million and there are few reports of disorder elsewhere.

At the Millennium Dome, the Queen and the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, were among a crowd who enjoyed a spectacular show of music and dance.

Highlights included performances from the English National Opera Orchestra, music from Jools Holland, The Corrs and Mick Hucknall and prayers read by the Archbishop of Canterbury and three Barnardo's children.

The 758m Dome was officially opened minutes before midnight by the Queen.

The fight is already on for the title of Britain's first baby of the new millennium.The contenders are headed by a baby boy born at Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry, Northern Ireland 30 seconds after midnight..

String of beacons

Earlier she had lit the National Millennium Beacon, triggering a string of 10,000 beacons across the UK.

A trumpet fanfare sounded from Tower Bridge as she stepped forward to take the torch which ignited flames on a barge on the River Thames.

Into 2000
Within hours of the Queen's actions, 10,000 beacons across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland were set alight to herald the new millennium.

En route to the Dome, the Queen stopped off at Southwark Cathedral for a service highlighting the religious significance of the millennium celebrations.

The Blairs Tony and Cherie Blair arrive at The Dome
She also took time to meet some of the poorest people in society at a nearby homeless shelter.

It was left to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair to set London's millennium wheel in motion in another spectacular display.

Failed safety check

He fired a laser beam across the Thames to officially open the new 450ft London Eye landmark.

It will spin slowly all night as the party continues around it - although there are no passengers on board after last-minute checks discovered that one of the 32 passenger capsules was unsafe.

The event was marked by deafening fireworks and a fly-past by British Airways' flagship jet, Concorde.

From us all here in Britain to people throughout the world, we wish you peace, we wish you prosperity in the new millennium
Tony Blair
Before pressing the button Mr Blair said: "To everyone here and throughout Britain, have a happy and wonderful New Year.

"From us all here in Britain to people throughout the world, we wish you peace, we wish you prosperity in the new millennium."

Crowds are thronging the centre of London with hundreds of thousands gathered in Trafalgar Square and the royal parks.

No major transport problems

Tens of thousands more gathered on bridges across the Thames to witness the midnight fireworks and pyrotechnic displays which turned the Thames into a "river of fire".

Scotland Yard reported no major transport problems, although police blocked several roads leading from the Trafalgar Square area to the Embankment.

There are some 6,000 police on duty in central London alone. Home Secretary Jack Straw said he was confident forces would be able to cope.

Greenwich performers The Duke of York (second left) with some of the Greenwich performers
But thousands of guests arrived to see in the new year after a day of frustration and fresh chaos over obtaining their tickets.

Many were forced to queue throughout the day for their passes at Stratford and Charlton railway stations after organisers failed to send them in time through the post.

The administrative fiasco then continued as guests, many of them in evening dress, suffered further delays while security checks were made before they were able to board special Jubilee Line trains to take them to the Dome at Greenwich.

Nationwide celebrations

London Transport bosses were at one stage forced to close Stratford station, in east London, after crowds waiting to travel to Greenwich swelled to dangerous levels.

Dome dancers Dancers Helen Day and Natalie Kourpa at the Dome
In Scotland an estimated 180,000 revellers packed into Edinburgh's streets to see in the New Year with Scotland's largest ever Hogmanay.

In Cardiff, a concert by Welsh band the Manic Street Preachers was the key event in Wales' millennium celebrations.

In Belfast and Londonderry huge crowds gathered for a night of musical festivities while in Omagh, where 29 people died in the August 1998 bomb, children lit a millennium beacon.

Around England, events ranged from a Cliff Richard concert in Birmingham to a lantern procession through the streets of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

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