News In Depth
The end of the world? Let's party
This could be one of the last things you ever read if the ancient Mayan prediction that the world will come to an abrupt end turns out to be true.
But rather than getting down in the dumps about Doomsday, revellers are being offered the chance to celebrate their final hours in style.
All around the world, events are taking place to ensure believers go out with a bang, while many are being drawn to locations where it is believed they have a chance of surviving the apocalypse.
From a rocky mountain in the French Pyrenees where a giant UFO and aliens are said to be waiting to spirit those nearby to safety, to a bunker in Moscow, there are a number of places claiming that people will stay safe.
For 1,500 dollars (£920), former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's underground bunker is offering salvation from the world's end, with a 50% refund if nothing happens.
The bunker, 210 ft below ground, was designed to withstand a nuclear attack but has no more room as all 1,000 tickets have already been sold.
Meanwhile in Serbia, the place to be is Mount Rtanj, a pyramid-shaped peak already drawing cultists.
A local legend has it that the mountain once swallowed an evil sorcerer who will be released on doomsday in a ball of fire. The inside of the mountain will then become a safe place to hide as the sorcerer goes on to destroy the rest of the world.
In the meantime, some old coal mineshafts have been opened up as safe rooms for the dozens who have arrived already.
Sirince, a small Turkish village known for its wines, has also been touted as a safe haven, thought to be because it is close to an area where the Virgin Mary is believed to have lived her final days.
In China, the prediction is already causing problems, with the authorities detaining more than 500 people this week.
A fringe Christian group got into trouble after spreading rumours about the world's impending end, with leaflets, CDs, books and other material all seized.
Those detained are reported to be members of the group Almighty God, also called Eastern Lightning, with authorities in the province of Qinghai saying they are waging a "severe crackdown" on the group, accusing it of attacking the Communist Party and the government.
Closer to home, hundreds of people have already converged on Stonehenge for an End of the World party that coincides with the winter solstice, although it is not thought that the ancient stone circle in Wiltshire is able to offer any protection.
The Friday December 21 doomsday claim has been fuelled by internet speculation, but widely questioned by academics and dismissed by everyone from Nasa and the US government to the Vatican.
But savvy entrepreneurs are cashing in on the interest by putting on a number of themed events across London.
Those willing to pay for a ticket can now see in the end of the world by dining in the hull of a boat, indulging in their wildest fantasies or hearing annihilation theories being panned in a one-off comedy gig.
Emma Ireland, senior creative events manager at Halo Group, is involved in a pop-up dining experience called The Last Supper Club, which offers guests a three-course apocalypse-themed meal served inside an ark.
Ms Ireland said: "It was topical, it was current. It was something we knew a lot of people would probably be tapping into over Christmas.
"I don't know what it has been like in other cities but in London there has certainly been a big celebration of the end of the world. So it just seemed to suit the times."
Flames And Fortune have been running apocalypse-themed parties for years and have also taken advantage of the heightened interest to hold a joint event in east London and Los Angeles.
Punters who buy one of the 750 tickets on offer will be treated to an "indulgence room" where staff dressed as Greek gods will massage guests, feed them grapes and fulfil their wildest desires, according to organisers.
Other forms of entertainment have also got in on the act, with comedian Robin Ince and scientist Professor Brian Cox holding a one-off show at Hammersmith Apollo.
The gig will feature a selection of apocalypse-themed music and appearances from comedians and scientists discussing the various theories for annihilation.
what do you think?
And I'm just sat at home waiting for it to happen..still.
Perhaps they have the dates mixed up !
Well... That was a damp squib! I would have paid to see all those losers traipsing down the mountain, scrabbling with calculators, trying to re-calculate the end of the world. Mugs!
Allan Booth - Staff
To be truly palindromic it should have happened on the 21/11/12... any one want to work out when the next palindromic date is?
Nonsense. I am still waiting for the Millenium bug....
We are all zombies, we don't know it!
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If it did happen it would be the hottest talking point for years to come.