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How to Ring in 2021 Early With London’s ‘Unique’ New Year’s Eve Broadcast

No fireworks, but it should still be a blast

When the clock strikes midnight tonight, we finally get to say goodbye to the horrible year that was 2020. Well, anyone who can stay up that late, which can be a bit of a challenge for those of us with little kids.

A word of advice for new or adventurous (or drunk) parents who were planning on waking their children up just before midnight local time to join them in a countdown, toast and a kiss — don’t. We’ve tried — and failed at — that.

TheWrap’s got a better idea: party like — and with — the Brits. They may not have a giant ball, and the typical Thames fireworks spectacular has been canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but London Mayor Sadiq Khan promised a “unique broadcast” as Dec. 31 gives way to Jan. 1.

The replacement special is intended “to remember 2020 and look forward to 2021,” according to the government’s website.

There are not many more details available, but the BBC One schedule says it will be a nine-minute celebration executive produced by Claire Popplewell.

“As Big Ben strikes midnight, the nation comes together to welcome in the new year and light up the start of 2021,” the logline reads.

Part 1 of an Alicia Keys concert leads up to the consolation broadcast. Part 2 follows Big Ben’s big bongs.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has meant we are not able to put on our world-famous public event on the banks of the Thames this year, but it’s important we reflect on and pay tribute to the defining moments of the year and look to 2021 with hope, and that’s why we are replacing it with a unique broadcast on BBC One,” Khan said on Dec. 18. “We know that New Year’s Eve is traditionally an opportunity to show off our great city to the rest of the world, which we will still be doing this year in a show you’ll only be able to watch from home, on the BBC. It will be a celebration of hope, but also provide a moment of reflection on the challenges of this year and the way Londoners pulled together.

“Infection rates are rising once again, which is why there is no public event this year,” he continued at the time. “It’s vital we all continue to stick to the rules to reduce the spread of the virus and I urge Londoners to stay safe by seeing in the new year watching BBC One from the comfort of their home with those they live or are bubbled with.”

London was under “Tier 3” restrictions at the time. Two days before Christmas, the city was upped to Tier 4. Read those rules here.

London is five hours ahead of the United States’ Eastern time zone. That means midnight in jolly old England is 7 p.m. ET (or 6 p.m. CT, 5 p.m. MT and 4 p.m. PT — but if the California kids are going to bed at 4 o’clock, that New Year’s Day hangover is going to be the least of parents’ problems.)

The London fireworks are typically broadcast locally on BBC One. That doesn’t much help us here any year. Nor does BBC America, which is just airing a “Doctor Who” marathon leading up to its New Year’s Day special.

For those overseas, the BBC One live stream via BBC iPlayer can be found at BBC.com. You will have to register ahead of time, a process which merely requires one to enter their date of birth, email address and create a password. Then check your email to confirm your (free) account.

If you really want to use the iPlayer in the States, try downloading — and paying for — a VPN service, like the highly rated ExpressVPN.

For all, the BBC YouTube channel can be found here. Its Twitter account is here.

Our readers in the U.S. can always check cable news channels to see if those networks break into a London countdown around 6:59 p.m. ET. “BBC World News” airs on PBS leading into the 7 p.m. ET hour. Of course, that program is pretty focused on the Brexit implications, as the UK and EU will cut ties tonight.

If the kids simply won’t go to sleep, or God forbid they have one more nightmare of 2020 (likely about 2020, children are sponges), your family can also watch the ball drop in an empty Times Square via the below live stream. Technically, that celebration starts at 6 p.m. ET, so the patriotic young ones can catch a little American preparation — in the times of COVID — at the very least.

Oh, and in case you’ve already had way too much champagne, a reminder — no, you cannot attend the midtown Manhattan event (or anywhere, really) in person this year.

Here’s to 2021. Or really, to not 2020.