COVID-19: Big Ben's chimes ring in 2021 for London's subdued New Year's celebrations

·2-min read

A few stragglers did defy the advice to stay indoors but otherwise, the noise from Britain's most recognisable clock soon gave way to what was a subdued night.

There were no large crowds and few fireworks scorching the night sky ushering in the start of 2021.

Instead the skyline of London - bathed in an electric glow - looked as familiar as it always does on any other winter night.

The capital, like most of the country, was hunkered down and mostly inside - shielded from the catastrophe that was 2020.

The emptiness of squares and pubs fitted the mood of existential crisis; the end of an awful year for a weary nation battered and lashed by the cruel winds of the pandemic.

Traditionally the New Year is a time when life starts afresh but the dawn of 2021 may not seem to many all that different.

The parochial infighting of Brexit may be over but the uncertainty of Britain's place in the world will continue.

And with most of the population confined to their homes by the restrictions to combat the virus there are undoubtedly dark days ahead for the country, which is now dealing with one of the most difficult periods in its history.

The celebrations haven't stopped completely.

Although people can't paint the town red there was a groove to be found on the web.

In the Hacienda nightclub - a 24-hour livestream of rolling DJs - tunes were bounced across the internet taking the party online.

Adaptation and innovation has been the order of the day to deal with the ever-changing rules.

Chef Tom Shepherd turned his restaurant into a supper club, boxing up ingredients for customers to cook up their own fine dining experience.

He said: "The original thought and concept of it was just getting us back in work and making ends meet but now we fast forward to New Year's Eve where we've don an absolute number sell out of the whole of November and December and i5s become it's own business entirely."

It has also been incredibly frustrating, even for the most entrepreneurial.

Oliver Tully was hoping to screen movies at his drive in cinema in Haywards Heath over the festive season but had to close when his area moved into Tier 4.

He said: "The events industry is one of the hardest industries, along with the travel industry through all of this pandemic and there was no financial help for entertainment industry for a long long time."

There's no doubt 2020 has been a brutal year.

But there is hope.

The miracle of science and the vaccine rollout must surely deliver us from the clutches of the virus, and next year when New Year's Eve rolls around again, the silence of the embankment will be filled with people and celebration.