City Hall refunds over 3,000 people after chaotic New Year's Eve fireworks marred by bogus tickets

A montage of the crowds of people at the London New Year's fireworks display and an image of a firework over The London Eye
Some genuine ticketholders who tried to watch the fireworks say they were turned away -Credit:Jennifer/PA/Victoria Jones

City Hall has refunded over 3,000 people for London's New Year's Eve firework event after it was disrupted by fake ticketholders, MyLondon can reveal. The sold-out 2023 celebration, which was criticised for a 33 per cent rise in the stub price to £20, was marred by crowd management issues which meant genuine ticketholders missed out on the dazzling display.

Data requested by this website under Freedom of Information (FOI) laws shows that 3,075 tickets worth £61,000 have been refunded, with the refund period now over. This marked a 2,247 per cent increase on the number of refunds (3 per cent of sales) compared to last year when just 131 tickets were refunded (0.1 per cent of sales).

MyLondon understands the sheer volume of fake tickets was the reason for the delays, and City Hall is working closely with the Metropolitan Police to tackle their sale. We previously requested a figure on the number of fake tickets that were refused at entrance points, but the Greater London Authority (GLA) said it does not hold that information.

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City Hall quashed rumours of an 'oversold' event after ticketholders reported that event staff had allegedly told them overselling was the reason they were turned away. A previous FOI request by MyLondon confirmed 106,696 tickets were sold (the same as the event's capacity), which backs up City Hall's statement on this.

After saying 'the vast majority of more than 100,000 ticket-holders enjoyed the display', City Hall told MyLondon 80,000 ticketholders were admitted to the event, 75 per cent of the capacity. But, the Mayor's office said this was 'in line with attendance at previous events, with an expected 20–30 per cent of ticketholders who do not attend'.

MyLondon also requested access to documents about queue management and crowd control, but the FOI request was refused under national security grounds in the event terrorists would use the information to plan an attack on future London NYE celebrations.

City Hall told us all event communication stated tickets could only be bought via, via the only verified ticket seller AXS, and that the GLA 'worked closely' with security teams to make sure they knew how to identify fake tickets.

A spokesperson for the GLA said: “The vast majority of the more than 100,000 ticketholders enjoyed the capital’s spectacular New Year’s Eve celebrations. Fake tickets led to entry delays at the gates, so we rightly provided refunds to the small percentage of genuine ticketholders who were affected.”

'Many people’s evenings ended in disappointment'

A montage photo of Emma Best AM and Sadiq Khan
Emma Best AM told City Hall there was a 'failure to prepare for and control fake tickets' -Credit:Getty Images/City Hall

In light of the debacle, deputy leader of City Hall Tories, Emma Best, successfully tabled a motion calling for the fireworks event to be added to the London Assembly Oversight Committee during a plenary meeting on on February 8.

In her motion, Ms Best AM said: "For this year’s event, ticket prices surged by 33 per cent and many people’s evenings ended in disappointment as the Mayor admitted a failure to prepare for and control fake tickets led to long queues and in some cases non-admittance for genuine ticket holders."

After the motion was passed, with eight votes to three, it means major decisions around pricing, planning and general budgeting will now be scrutinised by the London Assembly. MyLondon understands City Hall will respond to the Assembly motion in due course.

'Complete shambles'

When MyLondon spoke to ticketholders in the days after the event, they complained of crushing, thefts, and assaults. Jennifer, a teacher from Telford, who travelled 150 miles for the event with a genuine ticket, was turned away from the gate after queuing for hours. "It was terrifying being trapped in a crowd of angry people," she told us at the time.

Other complaints on X, formerly Twitter, included 'hideous crowd management', and some party-goers calling the event 'insanely unsafe' and 'a complete shambles'. The calls for refunds were led by Nikolaj Hansen-Turton, who wrote an open letter to Sadiq Khan, describing a crowd that was 'very unsafe and scary' and 'rushing and pushing'.

According to an FOI request by CityAM, the total cost of the extravaganza was nearly £4 million, with over 12,000 fireworks used to light up London's famous skyline. In its response to the paper's data request, the GLA said the 'budget available for the event was £3.85m, with additional costs being supported by ticket revenue of £1.75m'.

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