Girl power to rock the show at London's New Year's Eve firework display

London's New Year's Eve firework display will feature a soundtrack dominated by female artists to mark the centenary of women being granted the vote.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 27th December 2017, 10:09 am
Updated Wednesday, 27th December 2017, 10:15 am
The New Year's eve firework celebrations in central London
The New Year's eve firework celebrations in central London

Songs by Aretha Franklin, Annie Lennox, Ariana Grande, Dua Lipa and Florence Welch will be among those included in the women-only second half of the world-famous show.

Around 100,000 ticket-holders will watch the 12-minute spectacle light up the skyline from the bank of the River Thames on Sunday.

The display will mark the launch of Mayor of London Sadiq Khan's campaign for gender equality, ahead of the 100th anniversary of women securing the right to vote.

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Pyrotechnics technicians preparing fireworks

It follows a year in which women across the world spoke out about inequality and sexual harassment, with scandals hitting the showbusiness world in Hollywood and politics in Westminster.

Big Ben's famous bongs will ring out at midnight, having been turned back on during the festive period amid significant repair work, before more than 10,000 fireworks paint the sky.

Months of planning go into the Mayor of London's showcase, which has been produced by company Jack Morton for 14 years, and preparations are shrouded in secrecy.

Darryl Fleming, the display's director, must input into a computer the 6,000 cues which form the display, ensuring the pyrotechnics are in time with the music and that their colours reflect the mood.

The New Year's eve firework celebrations in central London

The only rehearsal for the show, which is broadcast to millions of people across the world, is a mock-up software animation, so it is not surprising that Mr Fleming finds it difficult to watch his work.

"I watch it but I'm not watching it like a normal person would. I wouldn't say I enjoy it. The last couple of minutes or so just before midnight are really, really painful," he said.

In the moments before the display a "pulse track" is played to build tension among the thousands of people who have gathered to watch.

Mr Fleming said: "As soon as I hear that pulse track, all the hairs on the back of my neck quickly stand up.

Pyrotechnics technicians preparing fireworks

"It's almost like a call to arms, and you are just waiting for that moment.

"And then you hear Big Ben chime and you are just sitting there going, 'Please work, please work, please work'."

But he added: "Of course I do get to enjoy the show as well, because when you see the finale you can't help but think, 'Wow'.

"Sometimes I think, maybe I've overcooked it a bit this year, but you think no, it is London, it is New Year's Eve, you can never overcook a show like that."

The New Year's eve firework celebrations in central London

Jim Donald, director of productions at Jack Morton, added: "There's a lot that keeps you ticking, keeps you awake, but we've got a lot of experience in the team and touch wood, we nail it.

"We have our challenges each year but we generally overcome them and it's quite a buzz really."

This year, landmarks across London, including the BT Tower, Piccadilly Lights and Royal Festival Hall, will also be lit up with the slogan of Mr Khan's equality campaign: #BehindEveryGreatCity.

Mr Khan said he was committed to removing barriers to women's success.

He said: "As a proud feminist I am really encouraged to see so many Londoners supporting this campaign to say that behind every great city is equality, opportunity and progress - regardless of your gender.

"It is incredibly important to mark the centenary of this momentous time in history, but also to take stock of the huge inequalities women still face 100 years on from first winning the right to vote."

:: Tickets for the fireworks show have now sold out but it will be broadcast live on TV.