Despite some scuffles, the new year got off to a festive start in Europe
The new year got off to a festive and somewhat tumultuous start. Police in Brussels and Antwerp had to intervene several times on New Year's Eve. However, unlike the past two years, dominated by the pandemic, the New Year could be celebrated in most places across Europe without too many restrictive measures.
"The police carried out 407 interventions in the Brussels Region, whereby 74 arrests were made. The Brussels Capital Region's Fire Fighting and Urgent Medical Aid Service (DBDMH) carried out 82 fire brigade and 90 ambulance interventions. In addition, six interventions involved a vehicle on fire", spokesperson for the Brussels police Ilse Van de keere said.
There were no sanitary restrictions this year, and several events were again organised to celebrate the New Year. There was a large crowd in the city centre; in total, as many as 50,000 spectators came to see the fireworks. Brussels police had to close around the Brussels Palace as they became full, but there were no problems. Also the entrances to the Grand Place had to be locked for a short time just before midnight for security reasons.
Antwerp's local police also dealt with several New Year's Eve incidents. Scattered across the territory, there were a few scuffles in which several people sustained injuries and were taken to hospital. Limited incidents occurred at several places where the police said they had to disperse persons a few times. At various police gatherings, several police vehicles were slightly damaged.
In the French capital Paris, about a million people attended the massive fireworks display on the Champs-Élysées near the Arc de Triomphe. There was an impressive police presence to keep the event under control, and there were strict entry rules.
In the Netherlands, the proclaimed fireworks ban was ignored in many places. This was the case in Rotterdam, where the sound of popping fireworks could be heard en masse since late Saturday afternoon. In Amsterdam, too, fireworks were set off all through New Year's Eve. Around midnight, Dam Square was packed with people counting down to midnight. Although fireworks were occasionally set off, it remained relatively calm in the Dutch capital.
Over a hundred thousand people in the British capital London celebrated New Year's Eve with an expansive, 12-minute fireworks display in front of the iconic London Eye Ferris wheel. Then, Big Ben struck twelve times at midnight to usher in the new year.
© BELGA PHOTO Lucien Lambotte