Brussels cancels New Year’s Eve fireworks

Summary

The city of Brussels has decided to call off the annual New Year’s Eve fireworks display, given the threat of possible terrorist action

“The risk was too great”

The traditional New Year’s Eve fireworks display organised by the city of Brussels has been cancelled this year, under the threat of a possible terrorist attack.

Two men are in custody accused of planning an attack “similar to Paris” in the city centre at New Year. One target was thought to be the central police office next to the Grote Markt. The square is traditionally a gathering place for thousands seeing in the new year.

This year’s fireworks display was moved from Paleizenplein and Kunstberg to De Brouckèreplein, in keeping with Brussels-City council’s plan to make the square a central events location. Plans had been made to close off streets and pre-metro stations to control the flow of visitors expected. Last year’s show attracted 100,000 people.

Given the level of threat, the council has now decided, after consultation with the national threat analysis agency, to cancel the display altogether. Events on Anspachlaan yesterday evening and a DJ show planned for after the fireworks have also been cancelled. The Christmas market and Winterpret activities will still go ahead.

“The threat was aimed at the mass of people,” mayor Yvan Mayeur said. “According to the crisis centre, the risk was too great.”

The display was previously cancelled in 2004, in solidarity with the victims of the Boxing Day tsunami, and in 2007, also related to a possible terrorist threat. On that occasion, police had days before arrested a number of people suspected of planning to release alleged terrorist Nizar Trabelsi from prison.