The spectacular London New Year’s Eve firework display is the largest in Europe. Over 100,000 spectators travel from as far away as other continents to view the awesome display live. The display is broadcast live to 11 million people across the UK, and tens of millions further across the whole world in a magnificent demonstration, putting London and the UK on the world stage to bring in the new year.
The London New Year’s Eve fireworks are critical to the UK tourism industry, bringing in holiday-makers, businesses, and investments that contribute millions of pounds to the UK economy.
The magnitude of the London fireworks means they aren’t cheap. So how much do London new year fireworks cost and who pays for them?
Over the last ten years, the cost of the fireworks show has varied from £1.8 million in 2010 to £2.3 million in 2018 and 2019. The average cost for the New Year’s fireworks show over the last ten years is £2 million.
The London fireworks in 2020 cost £1.5 million. But this is an anomaly. 2020 saw a drop in the budget for the New Year’s fireworks. The event had to be cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions when London was in Tier 4 lockdown. Despite this, a surprise firework show and drone performance were televised over the Thames, incorporating landmarks like The London Eye, The Shard, and Tower Bridge.
London began its iconic annual firework display in 1999 to commemorate the turn of the millennium. Since that time more and more people have turned up to the Southbank to watch the fireworks and join the celebrations. This meant that in 2014 the event had to be ticketed in order to manage the crowds.
The London fireworks cost is taken from the Greater London Authority Arts and Culture Fund, which makes the extravagant display on December 31st possible. The GLA Arts and Culture fund is used to make public events, programmes, and community projects possible so that all Londoners and those visiting London can enjoy them. The GLA is paid into through taxes, transport fares, business rates, and council tax. It is from this pot that the London fireworks are paid for. When considering how much do the new year fireworks cost London Authority each year, you need only look at the total cost of the fireworks. This Greater London Authority pays the total cost of the fireworks. No profits from ticket sales go towards the cost of the actual fireworks, their installation and the conducting of the fireworks display.
Since ticketing in 2014, tickets to view the fireworks in the enclosed viewing space on the Southbank have cost approximately £10 per adult. Ticket sales do not contribute directly towards the actual firework display but they do support aspects of the event like crowd management and security. In 2019, £800,000 was raised as a result of ticket sales, all of which was spent on infrastructure for the New Year’s Eve event.
Issues have been raised in the past as to whether London residents should be afforded priority booking for the fireworks. In 2015, only 32% of the 106,000 total tickets were bought by residents of the capital city. This caused some unrest among some residents and politicians as the majority of the fund for the fireworks was raised through Londoners’ taxes. However, a priority booking system has as of yet not been determined to be effective.
In 2019, ticket holders were made up of 23% Londoners, 43% UK residents, and 28% overseas visitors.
London is far from the only city in the world to ring in the new year with a smashing firework display. As the new year breaks across the whole globe, capital cities in all countries will be celebrating with their own pyrotechnic performances. Sydney, Australia is known for its incredible firework display, launching over 50,000 individual shots over Harbour Bridge, The Sydney Opera House and a fleet of barges. Dubai, in 2014, broke the Guinness World Record for the largest firework display in the world, with 500,000 shots launched from the iconic Burj Khalifa.
Even though New Year is celebrated at a different time to the western world, you can, of course, expect to see spectacular fireworks from cities across China to welcome in Chinese New Year, where thousands of individual fireworks are launched in a highly curated display. Here is a list of major New Year’s displays around the world and their costs:
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