Thousands of revellers braved the cold and flocked to pubs and clubs to celebrate the new year across Sussex.

Many dressed up and drinking and merriment continued throughout the night with pubs allowed to stay open up to 36 hours.

Pubs and clubs boasted record numbers of people as the cold weather and lack of central celebrations lured revellers indoors.

In Brighton and Hove, numbers were down on last year without the events in the Old Steine, no official firework display or the Burning of the Clocks ceremony.

Mark Herbert, 25, from Brighton, said: "I love watching the fireworks but this year everyone just seems to be doing their own thing."

Sarah Douglas, 19, from Brighton, decided to don fancy dress with her friends to make the best of the lack of celebrations.

Sarah, who wore a Mexican outfit, said: "We decided to dress up so it wouldn't just be like any other night.

"I'm disappointed the usual stuff isn't going on."

Brighton's North Laine area was bustling with most pubs holding ticket-only events or private parties.

Hundreds of people packed the Brighton Centre for the Essential New Year's Eve all-night party.

Dance music was mixed by Fabio and Grooverider while appreciative clubbers raved away the last night of 2001, with the last guest leaving at about 6am yesterday.

Hundreds flocked to the beach for midnight and, as fireworks lit up the sky from Brighton Marina to Worthing, many people's New Year wish was that Brighton and Hove City Council would put on an official display next year.

In Mid Sussex, hundreds of revellers partied the night away at a fire and ice extravaganza.

More than 800 party-goers crowded into a 300ft long marquee at Hickstead for a black tie dinner and dance.

Among them was model Jordan, from Brighton, who is expecting her first child.

Organiser Philip Bunn said the party had been fantastic and people had danced well into the night against a backdrop of flickering silk flames and sparkling lights.

He said: "It was a proper black tie affair, all singing, all dancing. We had a cabaret singer during dinner and a live band and DJ.

"It was great and everyone has been having a really good time."

In Eastbourne, party-goers also chose to escape the cold in pubs and clubs, with many laying on fancy dress and themed parties to herald the start of 2002.

Stephen Hartley, licensee of the Gildredge pub in Terminus Road, said: "We had made the theme for this year a Hawaiian night but, because of the cold weather, not many people were wearing shirts.

"The police said we were the busiest pub in Eastbourne on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve was much the same."

The pier proved to be a popular destination with hundreds of clubbers seeing the morning in at the Atlantis nightclub.

Leanne Hughes, 19, spent the night on crutches after tripping and breaking her leg.

She said: "It won't stop me having fun, though. The club has a great atmosphere and everyone seems to be enjoying themselves."

The promotions manager for the club, Andrew Hale, 32, from Eastbourne, said Atlantis had been full to capacity with 870 people packed inside.

He said: "It was a great night. Everyone enjoyed themselves and there were no problems from anyone. The bars sold out twice and had to be restocked. The staff had a good time as well as the customers."

In Hastings, party-goers packed the main town centre pubs including the newly-opened £1.6 million John Logie Baird, Yates' and Trader Jacks.

Publicans said the sub-zero temperatures had buoyed trade by driving people into their bars from the frozen streets.

In Worthing, celebrations were tinged with nostalgia when a pub served its last drink before demolition.

Regulars of the Litten Tree, some of whom have drunk there for more than 40 years, broke down in tears on the eve of the pub's closure.

The pub will be demolished to make way for flats despite protests from conservationists.

The Litten Tree has been open for six years but the building has been a pub for more than 50 years.

A capacity crowd of 350 people crammed into the pub to welcome the new year in and bid farewell to an end of an era.

Manager Eamonn Woulfe said: "Everyone had a brilliant night. Every single one of the regulars turned up and spent the night singing and dancing.

"Midnight was great with the countdown and cheers. What an atmosphere!"

Other pubs in Worthing were also crammed to capacity at midnight as revellers opted to keep warm inside rather than gather at the clock tower as in previous years.

At Yates' wine bar in Chapel Road, more than 330 revellers included a group of doormen dressed as Teletubbies.

Manager Stuart Roberts said: "They certainly attracted the ladies with their moves, that's for sure. I don't know if my daughter would have approved."

Although there was no official firework display in Worthing, many people celebrated at midnight by letting off their own displays in their gardens.

The streets were deserted but explosions could be heard for more than 20 minutes as the fireworks lit up the sky.

Dozens of people braved the freezing temperatures to see in the new year on the seafront opposite the Berkeley Hotel on Marine Parade.

Police were kept busy across the county but only recorded minor incidents.

Inspector Helen West said: "It was a fairly busy night for us but there were no serious incidents.

"The staggered pub opening times helped us because it meant people were not coming out of pubs and clubs at the same time.

"The cold probably put people off taking too long to stagger home. It quietened down at about 5am."

In Brighton and Hove, there were 17 arrests for offences, including robbery, possession of drugs and public order offences.

Pubs were allowed to open from 10am on New Year's Eve to 10pm yesterday.