River of Fire" Highlights London 2000

London's "Big Time" party along the Thames will last 24-hours

As Big Ben strikes midnight in the Year 2000 for the first time, the Thames river through the heart of London will be a three mile long party zone with a "River of Fire" that will be traveling at the speed of sound..

Organizers of London's New Year' Eve celebration have finalized their plans for what could be Europe's largest Year 2000 party with an estimated crowd of 2.5 million people. The 24-hour long event will begin 11am New Year's Eve and be called "Big Time". A firework display will include an effect called the "River of Fire" that will move from the Tower Bridge to Vauxhall Bridge as Big Ben strikes midnight.

As is being done in New York's Times Square, large television screens located up and down the river will display the arrival of the Year 2000 in different time zones around the world beginning when midnight strikes Australia at 11am London time.

Organizers have choreographed the event right down to every chime during Big Ben's midnight ring. One minute before midnight, all four faces of the famous clock will be lit up by spotlights, tick-tocking on and off like a clock to help the crowd countdown the seconds. On the first chime, fireworks will explode over the Meridian Line at Greenwich, the home to the world's keeper of time.

By calculating the earth's rotation, organizers claim it will take 18 seconds for the imaginary line of midnight to travel from Greenwich to the Tower Bridge on the Thames. During that time, the first of 2,000 candles of fireworks will be set along the river.

In 10.8 seconds, the River of Fire will speed along the three mile stretch of the Thames at 1,240 mph, just under the speed of sound creating the illusion of a continuous 200 foot wall of flame. After the last chime, a 15 minute fireworks show will ensue from barges on the river and buildings along the Embankment.

At 8:30, the giant Millennium Ferris Wheel, erected on the South Bank especially for this occasion will spin for the first time with it's own fireworks show. At 10pm, special lighting effects will illuminate eight bridges surrounding the area.

There will be an Elizabethan street fair in the area around the Globe theatre and the Tate Gallery of Modern Art. There are plans to turn the traditional New Year's Eve meeting place of Trafalgar Square into a giant ice rink. Carnivals, street theatre, clowns, dancers, singers, musicians, stages, market stalls, cafes and fairgrounds will take place along the river during the day. Funfair rides will stay open into the early hours, ranging from hi-tech thrills to steam-driven carousels. A celebrity stage will feature bands, although performers have still