Page last updated at 13:36 GMT, Thursday, 1 January 2009

Londoners brave cold for parade

Marching band
Marching bands from across America performed in the parade

London played host to an estimated 400,000 people who turned out to watch the annual New Year's Day parade.

The parade featured 10,000 performers, including marching bands and cheerleaders from across America.

Floats from 24 London boroughs were entered in the parade, which also featured clowns and musicians.

To mark its golden anniversary, a cavalcade of 50 Minis joined the route through central London that was thronged with spectators.

Now in its 23rd year, the parade began in Parliament Square before winding through Whitehall, Trafalgar Square, Cockspur Street, Pall Mall and Lower Regent Street to Piccadilly.

'Warm welcome'

Bob Bone, executive director of the event, said: "This is a wonderful shop window for our great city - millions of people wondering where to head on holiday this summer will get a real feel for the warmth of the welcome that they can expect to get in London."

Mr Bone said the route was designed to showcase the city's rich heritage and culture for a worldwide television audience.

The only blight on the day, aside from freezing temperatures, was the delayed arrival of some of the performers who were grounded in America by severe winter storms.

The parade followed a massive clean-up operation by Westminster Council after New Year's Eve festivities across the city.



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