UK starts 2023 with spectacular fireworks display in London and Edinburgh to mark New Year

At midnight in London the chimes of Big Ben welcomed in the new year, while revellers from around the rest of the world also celebrated the start of 2023

The UK has ushered in 2023 with revellers across the country celebrating New Year’s Eve.

Partygoers defied wet weather to welcome in 2023 after the Met Office issued yellow warnings for rain in England’s South West and southern Wales, and warnings for ice and snow across the Scottish Highlands.

Big Ben bonged in England’s capital as a crowd of more than 100,000 people gathered along the Thames Embankment in central London to watch 12,000 fireworks streak across the sky.

The capital's spectacular New Year’s Eve celebrations returned for the first time since 2019, due to Covid restrictions brought about by the pandemic.

During the display, drones were used to spell out '2023 with love from London'. Credit: PA

The sold-out show was designed to send a message of "love and unity", as it highlighted the Lionesses' history-making Euro win at Wembley, marked 50 years of London’s Pride with a message from Peter Tatchell from the Gay Liberation Front, and sent a message of support to Ukraine.

The display also paid tribute to the late Queen, featuring a voice recording from her and words from Dame Judi Dench, before honouring the King, together with a message from the Monarch about the need to preserve our planet’s future.

Drones spelled out a positive message during the show, welcoming in "2023 with love from London" as fireworks exploded behind them.

Complete with music that included Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline, Ukrainian Eurovision winner Kalush Orchestra, and hits from Stormzy, Dua Lipa, Cher, Dave, Rihanna and Calvin Harris, the show concluded with the traditional Auld Lang Syne.

London's fireworks display paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II. Credit: PA

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he was "delighted" that Londoners and visitors could once again join together on the banks of the River Thames to ring in the new year.

Thousands of Metropolitan Police officers were on duty across the capital, with the force later saying eight people were arrested for offences including assault on police, drunk and disorderly, and possession of an offensive weapon.

Officers have worked with charity Safer Spaces to build a place in Duncannon Street, central London, for women and girls to go should they feel unsafe.

While other parts of England also celebrated with fireworks, the North Yorkshire seaside town of Scarborough did not.

Revellers celebrate during the Flamborough Fire Festival. Credit: PA

An Arctic walrus, believed to be "Thor" - who was spotted on the Hampshire coastline earlier this month, arrived in the harbour earlier in the day.

Scarborough Borough Council cancelled the fireworks display on the advice of British Divers Marine Life Rescue after the organisation expressed concerns that it could cause "distress" to the mammal.

In a village further down the coast in East Yorkshire, re-enactors took part in the Flamborough Fire Festival in a Viking-themed parade.

North of the border, people in Edinburgh enjoyed what First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called the "first full Hogmanay celebrations in three years".

Fireworks explode over Edinburgh Castle. Credit: PA

"Thinking back to Hogmanay last year and indeed the year before that, we’re reminded of just how far we have come from the very darkest days of the pandemic," she said in a New Year’s Eve message on Twitter.

People queued in the rain to enter the party in Princes Street as fireworks lit up the sky behind the city’s castle. The 80s duo The Pet Shop Boys sang the city into 2023.

More artists rang in the new year with song as Eurovision star Sam Ryder performed hits on BBC One.

Elsewhere, in Cardiff, families partied in the city’s Winter Wonderland, while people in Belfast celebrated at Europa Hotel’s annual Gala Ball.

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