Patti Smith is performing a moving tribute to NHS workers on NYE – here’s how you can watch

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Christobel Hastings
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Punk rock legend Patti Smith is ringing in the New Year with a moving tribute to NHS workers and Greta Thunberg – and you can watch the whole thing for free.

What are your plans for New Year’s Eve? Are you mixing up a few DIY cocktails? Hosting a virtual pub quiz? Perhaps you’ve decided to embrace an all-you-can-eat mentality and create a cordon bleu meal from your favourite restaurant. All three are guaranteed to make the occasion feel infinitely more enjoyable, even if you aren’t celebrating in the usual way.

When the countdown to the New Year is on though, and you’ve a glass of fizz in hand, might we suggest tuning in to watch Patti Smith?

That’s right: on December 31, as we wave goodbye to one of the most challenging years on record, the legendary rock star will be stepping in with a special broadcast to see in 2021.

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Kicking off on the stroke of midnight, Smith and her band will be taking over the iconic light screens at Piccadilly Circus with a 10-minute pre-recorded performance of music and poetry. 

Described as a “gift to London, the city that Smith loves,” the performance is part of a major installation curated by artist Josef O’Connor in partnership with the digital art platform Circa, which will also project ‘One’, a new 10-minute commission by the renowned German artist Anne Imhof on the run-up to midnight.

Rather excitingly, Smith will also be reading a new poem in tribute to the environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg, who celebrates her 18th birthday in January. In an interview with The Guardian, the singer-songwriter, poet and visual artist praised the teenager and said that she’d “pretty much sacrificed her childhood for all of us”.

Punk rock legend Patti Smith will be performing a special tribute to NHS workers on New Year's Eve.

In a year which has shown extraordinary acts of service from frontline workers to protect humankind, it seems fitting that Smith’s midnight gig will also include a moving remake of Peaceable Kingdom, a song written in the aftermath of 9/11, which will be dedicated to 100 NHS and healthcare workers who have died from Covid-19.

If you feel buoyed by Smith’s songs of hope and joy, you might be pleased to learn that you can catch a second performance on the day of the US presidential inauguration on 20 January, in case you’re staying up to celebrate Joe Biden and Kamala Harris walk into the White House.

You can watch the whole installation for free via the Circa YouTube channel from 11:45pm on 31 December. The performance will then be screened every evening throughout January at the time of 8.21pm.

Images: Getty