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 Wednesday, 1 January, 2003, 14:55 GMT
New Year spectacle draws crowds
New Year's Day Parade
Performers took part from 12 different countries
Thousands of people turned out in the rain to watch London's New Year's Day Parade.

More than 10,000 performers from three continents took part in the event which followed a route from Parliament Square to Piccadilly.

Cheerleaders, marching bands, floats and vintage cars all featured in the 17th annual procession which took three hours to complete.

The parade followed a muted New Year's Eve which saw no organised events in the capital.

Something should have been organised for the largest capital in the world

David Silk
Thousands of revellers saw in the New Year in the West End, despite police warnings to stay away.

There was criticism from many that London had no official celebrations, unlike other world cities such as Berlin and Sydney.

Trafalgar Square, the traditional focus of New Year's Eve in London, was closed to the public because of continuing building work.

Thousands instead flocked to Parliament Square and Leicester Square. Westminster City Council cleaners spent more than five hours clearing away 150 tons of rubbish from central London and the West End.

The pile included 20 tons of glass and six tons of champagne bottles.

New Year's Eve revellers
There was no organised event in London
Scotland Yard said it estimated 60,000 people were on the streets at midnight.

There were about 20,000 in Parliament Square, 14,000 outside the barriers in Trafalgar Square and 6,000 in Leicester Square.

There were 51 arrests, mainly for drunkenness and public order offences.

But many revellers were critical of the lack of organised events.

An Australian tourist, Elizabeth Tarry, 16, said: "We had such great hopes of this city but there's absolutely nothing."

Event needed

Roy Baker, 30, had travelled from Maidstone in Kent and said he was very disappointed.

"They made all this effort to board over Parliament Square, but they haven't put anything on for people. There's no light show, no music, no nothing."

David Silk, 23, a civil servant from Maida Vale, north-west London, said Mayor Ken Livingstone should make sure an event is organised.

"I don't mind Trafalgar Square being switched off but something should have been organised for the largest capital in the world."

See also:

31 Dec 02 | England
22 Oct 02 | England
01 Jan 02 | Scotland
30 Dec 01 | Scotland
01 Jan 02 | Americas
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