London’s New Year’s Eve fireworks will be ticketed for the first time this year.
The event has grown steadily since it was first staged in 2003, with around 500,000 attendees at last year’s event.
Its popularity puts a strain on the capital’s transport and safety infrastructure, making it “untenable”, the Mayor’s office said.
Tickets will now cost £10 and will be limited to 100,000 attendees.
“London’s New Year’s Eve fireworks are phenomenally popular, not just in the capital, but across the world,” said London Mayor Boris Johnson. “We want to ensure it continues to be a safe, enjoyable and sustainable event for the long-term.”
The decision has been met with criticism from spectators and officials alike.
Always loved that London NYE fireworks were a free & festive gathering open to all, not a sterile ticketed show. Not any more. #thanksboris
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) September 17, 2014
Tickets for NYE fireworks will end the idea of inclusive not exclusive, something for everyone, free London. Is it really worth it Boris?
— Tessa Jowell (@jowellt) September 17, 2014
Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, warned of “the potential for serious crowd management issues outside the ‘pay zone’.
“[The fireworks] should be accessible to all,” she told the BBC. “It would be a scandal if any families were denied access to the event due to the introduction of ticket prices.”
Some wondered if this was simply a money grab by the partners involved in the event. The Mayor’s office, however, insisted that no profit would be made on the expected £1m generated from ticket sales – and that the money would instead go towards the increased infrastructure, staffing and, ironically, the process of ticketing itself.
The ticketed viewing areas will be located on Westminster Bridge, on the north embankment of the Thames between Westminster and Waterloo bridges, and on the Southbank behind the London Eye – although, as one person commented on Facebook – anyone could see the display by simply…”looking up to the sky”.
Tickets go on sale 26 September from 12 noon.