Fog and mist are set to shroud New Year's Eve and Hogmanay celebrations in the UK, but warmer temperatures are likely to draw out huge crowds.
Tickets have already sold out for the Princes Street Gardens concert and ceilidh in Edinburgh, where dry and clearer skies are predicted to compensate for the city's recent battering by snow.
Cardiff is also laying on a vast array of masquerade, retro and fireworks parties while Manchester offers ice-skating right up to the chimes, when fireworks will be triggered from Quay House in the city centre.
London will be lit up by a monster display fired from in front of the London Eye, with weather conditions likely to recreate those at the millennium. Like the new century, when Concorde flew low but unseen above the Thames against a pyrotechnic blur, 2011 is forecast to have a murky start in all three cities.
Trafalgar Square will as usual be the focus of informal revelry and the Metropolitan police launched a Twitter line this morning to run constant updates on traffic, crowds and public transport. More than 3,000 officers will be on duty, backed by an online map of access, station closures and the like which will be kept updated.
Chief Supt David Wildbore of the British Transport police in the capital said: "It will be busy, particularly going home, so please stagger your journey if you can and be patient. It may be a cold night and you could have to queue for a while, so dress appropriately and look after your belongings."
The recession has claimed some party victims, including in Leeds, where the Labour-led city council has saved £33,000 by cancelling planned civic celebrations. Private parties are still expected to fire thousands of pounds' worth of fireworks into the sky, but again against a misty backdrop.
Liverpool is focusing on club events including a gig by Liverpudlian X Factor runner-up Rebecca Ferguson and assorted ice palaces, luges and frozen fountains at the Newz bar. Newcastle-upon-Tyne, traditionally one of the country's liveliest new year spots, is getting together with its neighbour Gateshead for a winter carnival, which will take over both city centres from 3pm, led by a snow queen and her court of monkeys, skeletons, ice fairies and – at midnight – fireworks.
Mark Seltzer, a Met Office forecaster, said: "It will be mostly cloudy across the UK tomorrow with mist and fog patches and the odd bit of drizzle. The general outlook is quite murky and fog combined with the low-lying cloud is going to affect fireworks displays."
Aisling Creevey of MeteoGroup said: "Visibility is not looking great. I don't think things will be as spectacular as they would be on a clear night."
Scotland is expected to get the best of the clear weather, helping big-city Hogmanay parties in Glasgow and Aberdeen as well as Edinburgh. Temperatures will drop as a result, however, to between 1°C and 2°C (33-35°F) compared with a predicted 6°C (42°F) in London. The RAC warned drivers to take extra care with "pea-souper" fog lingering in some areas. A spokesman said: "Motorists should drive appropriately and leave plenty of distance between the vehicle in front."
More than 60 Flybe flights in and out of Southampton were affected yesterday, with fog causing cancellations or diversions to Birmingham, Bournemouth and Exeter. Even the coastguard joined in the series of cautions, with Swansea's watch manager, Bernie Kemble, saying: "The break between Christmas and new year might seem like an ideal time to take out a boat, but low visibility makes it extremely challenging to navigate a vessel safely or to give an accurate location if you get into difficulty."
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
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