Britain was gearing up for New Year's Eve celebrations yesterday as the government urged revelers not to go wild on booze and newspapers predicted a post-midnight surge in frisky behavior.
More than 350,000 people were expected to pack the banks of the River Thames in London to watch a mammoth fireworks display, while Edinburgh was to host its traditional giant Hogmanay knees-up.
Other cities across Britain had their own parties planned as authority figures urged self-restraint as revelers let their hair down to welcome in 2008.
In London, following the famous chimes of Big Ben at midnight, a blazing 10-minute fireworks display focusing on the London Eye observation wheel was to fill the dark skies with color.
Giant screens set up in the city center were to relay the events.
"London's New Year's Eve fireworks display is world famous and the capital one of the best places in the world to be during the festive season," London Mayor Ken Livingstone said in a statement.
"The fireworks display will kick off 2008 in spectacular style," he said.
In Edinburgh, tickets to the Hogmanay street party -- costing £5 (US$10) or £20 with a "party pack" -- have sold out.
"One hundred thousand people from all over the globe join in the celebrations with three stages of live music, featuring world class performers, an enormous ceilidh [party] in the gardens and one of the world's most spectacular fireworks displays from Edinburgh's seven hills," organizers boasted.
Kasabian and Idlewild were headlining the concerts.
Stonehaven, near Aberdeen on the Scottish east coast, was to host its traditional Fireballs ceremony, where around 50 people torch boulder-sized balls made of chicken wire, rags and cardboard and swing them around their heads.
Elsewhere across the country, pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants were to stay open well into the night to see in the New Year.
The government urged New Year's Eve revelers to drink responsibly.
"For many of us New Year's Eve will be the biggest party of the year and having a few drinks is all part of the fun," Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker said.
"But it is worth remembering that when things go wrong and people get hurt, reckless alcohol consumption has often played a part. Taking a few simple precautions can ensure that a fun night out stays that way and really goes with a swing," he said.
Indeed, some newspapers predicted a wave of booze-fueled one-night stands.
"Randy Brits are set to ring in the New Year with a bang tonight ... with a frenzied text and sex session," said the Daily Star newspaper.
"The bed-hopping bonanza will see an amazing 10 million romps and 140 million text messages a minute kick-start 2008," the paper said.
Expert Louise van der Velde, dubbed the Pleasure Professor, told the tabloid: "More than ever will probably be going for it on New Year's Eve. A lot of single people are set to go out on the pull and are more likely to have sex than on any other night."
But the Daily Mail newspaper was more concerned about the after effects of a New Year surge in drunken one-night stands.
The Marie Stopes International organization -- which carries out around one in three abortions in Britain -- said it undertook some 6,000 abortions last February -- the peak month for women who get pregnant over the festive period.