Tuesday, 3 January 2017

A Belated HAPPY NEW YEAR! But a disappointing start.

Hull's "City Of Culture 2017" fireworks display, entitled "THE BIG BANG"!

To bring in the 2016 new year, Jane and I drove to the St Helen's Church at West Keal. This hilltop location provides a great vantage point to the south.

Midnight on New Year's Eve offers the only time of year where you can guarantee an abundance of synchronised fireworks. The view from St Helen's Church is quite spectacular. It's not that high at only 70 metres above sea level, but the view over the flat plains of the Fens to the south is quite impressive. There's nothing else quite like it around here.

The evening of December 31st 2015 was dry and the air was still and crystal clear. At the stroke of midnight, the whole horizon was aflame with thousands of fireworks, providing a display of colour and light, making the horizon look like it was dancing. It was the most bizarre and mesmerising sight. I can't put into words just how magical this was. I had heard reports about how stunning this kind of fireworks-gazing was and we can wholeheartedly concur.

We could see fireworks as far away as North Norfolk. The Boston area was flooded with light. Yet not a sound could be heard, apart from the wildlife on the ground and in the nearby trees.

So we thought we would repeat the same experience again this New Year's Eve. But the display this time was extremely disappointing. At the stroke of midnight, we counted only three small firework displays on the distant horizon. This was an enormous reduction over last year's breathtaking spectacle. Apart from a couple of fireworks at the bottom of the hill, we probably didn't count more than a dozen in the distance. The air was the same. Cold, crisp and beautifully clear.

So why the dramatic reduction in fireworks? Is it now considered bad taste to let off bombs in the air? I could understand that. Or is it because money is tight? I hear that New Year retail sales are considerably down this year. The shops and the roads around Skegness this season are empty! You can see that there is a huge reduction of New Year visitors, which we always have. This follows one of the busiest summer seasons on record for the resort. I think I am opting for the financial reason. Or are fireworks just not in fashion anymore?

Skegness has had all its many fireworks displays cancelled in 2016. I don't know why, but I am not disappointed. Although I love a good fireworks display, I would happily support their ban as I have seen the terrible effects they have on pets.

Driving home from West Keal, feeling a little disappointed, Jane and I discussed travelling to Kingston Upon Hull the following evening. It's a 70 mile (110 km) drive from Skegness, but they were boasting that they were having a fireworks display which would be better than London's! Something I found hard to believe. But 2017 is Hull's "City Of Culture" year, which has many, many events to celebrate the city. Maybe we should go.

Come the following afternoon, we did indeed take the drive to Hull and witnessed their stunning fireworks display. It was probably the best one I have seen. I don't think I would class it as 'better' than London's New Year's display, but the only difference was that Hull didn't have a giant Ferris wheel as a centrepiece. Other than that, it really was a very impressive 12 minute display, carried out on two barges which were moored just off the Marina in the Humber river.

To get a waterfront seat for the fireworks, you had to book a year in advance. It was ticket only, but they were free. All 25,000 tickets were snapped up the moment they were released too.

A little planning on google Earth and Google Street View found us a good spot, right next to the Marina, where we could see the whole display. We chose the car park of the Odeon Cinema. Only a small handful of other people had thought of this. Most other people travelled slightly further away to St Andrew's Dock. But the fireworks were huge, so they could be seen from all points across the city.

According to local newspapers, the display consisted of 15,000 projectiles and weighed 3.5 tonnes. How that compares to the London display I am not sure. I have only ever seen that on the TV, but I have no doubt that the two are very similar in size after seeing Hull's effort.

It was certainly a big fireworks display and the fireworks were very loud, considering they were about half a mile away. One or two car alarms were being set off by the blasts.

Listening to BBC Radio Humberside interviewing the public after the event, I was surprised to find that a lot had gone wrong with the fireworks. It seems there was some problem with synchronicity of the fireworks and the video and soundtrack which were playing for those in the Marina. The fireworks were also slightly late starting, being billed to begin at exactly 2017. I don't know why the rather odd time. They were only about five minutes late, but I imagine this may have upset the timings of other events in the evening's celebrations.

I'll leave my own video effort of the evening's proceedings at the top of the page, but mine is poor by comparison to some of those I have seen on YouTube. I will post a few links to some of the better ones below. 


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