Happy New Year!
Theresa and I arrived in London on December 28 after an overnight flight from the U.S. and on January 2 we will take another overnight flight back to Bangkok. We have very much enjoyed London (more details later.)
On New Year’s Eve, we ate dinner in the West End and then went to see Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera. There have been over 10,000 performance of the play at Her Majesty’s Theater since the play opened here in October 1986. In the performance that we saw, Sofia Escobar played Christine Daaé, the role originally performed by Sarah Brightman both in the West End and on Broadway; John Owen-Jones was Erik (the Phantom); and Killian Donnelly played Viscount Raoul de Chagny. After the curtain call, the cast sang Auld Lang Syne as a prelude to the new year.
When we left the theater a bit after 10 p.m., the streets were closed to traffic and full of throngs of revelers from the Thames to Charing Cross and Trafalagar Square through Piccadilly Circus and up Regents Street to Oxford Circus. The night was cool and damp but the parties were in full swing. While a light rain had begun by the time we reached Oxford Circus, it did not seem to dampen the festive atmosphere. We took the Underground back to Park Lane so that we could watch the fireworks from the warmth and comfort of our hotel room.
The fireworks were fabulous. As the countdown on the Shell Building reached zero, three barges in the Thames began launching more than 50,000 fireworks over the London Eye. The barrage lasted for over 11 minutes. Inspired by the 2012 Olympics that London will host later this year, rockets in the color and shape of the Olympic rings lit up the sky. Below are a few photos of the 2012 London New Year fireworks that we took from our hotel window, about 1 mile from the London Eye.
On New Year’s Day, we went to the London Parade that began just before noon right down Piccadilly from our hotel. The theme of this year’s parade is “The Olympics & The Diamond Jubilee” in anticipation of this summer’s games and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee that will commemorate her 60 years as monarch.
The parade seemed to be more comparable to the local hometown 4th of July parades than to the large, extravagant Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day parades such as those held in New York and Pasadena. Like the hometown parades, the London parade had many local groups — bike riders, youth groups, school cheerleaders, and dancers — as well as homemade floats built on large lorries. There were also many marching bands, including several from the U.S., classic cars, and Harleys. Indeed, a high school band from Wichita Falls Texas made us feel as though we were back in Fort Worth with their rendition of Deep in the Heart of Texas and all of their Texas flags. Earlier in the week, we had met some people from a high school band from Georgia that had come to march in the parade. Unfortunately for these young people, their band was near the end of the parade and by the time they passed the reviewing stand the rain was pouring down.
Here is a look at the 2012 London parade.
After dinner this evening, we will attend the New Year’s Day Extravaganza at St. Martin-in-the-Fields. The program includes selections from Pachelbel’s Canon, Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons as well as works by Handel and Bach.
© 2012 Kurt Brown. All rights reserved.