For the first time in 20 years, Hongkongers will not be able to watch the ball drop at Times Square in Causeway Bay as the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve. And across the harbour, the decades-long tradition of counting down to Christmas Day has been scrapped at Harbour City in Tsim Sha Tsui. But both venues denied that fears of Occupy protesters hijacking the events were behind the cancellations. A spokeswoman for Times Square last night confirmed that its end-of-year countdown party - that tries to mirror its namesake in New York - on December 31 had been dumped. "It is a format change," the spokeswoman said, adding "we won't go into that" when asked about Occupy Central. Since 1993, revellers have packed into the forecourt of Times Square to watch a giant ball drop from the 22-metre LED tower as midnight strikes. This year, there will be four days of afternoon concerts starting from December 28. The hour-long shows start at 4pm and offer "the public a brand new holiday leisure experience", the spokeswoman said. Performers will include Alfred Hui Ting-hang, Canto-pop duo Shine and acappella quartet C AllStar. The show on New Year's Eve will feature rock bands Chochukmo, Kolor and Supper Moment. A spokeswoman for Harbour City said the outdoor countdown that usually took place on Canton Road on Christmas Eve would be replaced by events at the shopping centre. The "new format" was decided a "long time ago", she said, adding "we just want to celebrate Christmas inside the mall." The events include a fundraising campaign for the Hong Kong Blood Cancer Foundation and performances by six-year old singer Celine Tam and child prodigy pianist Tsung Tsung. Meanwhile, the annual New Year's Day pro-democracy march, organised by the Civil Human Rights Front, has been pushed back by a month to coincide with the second round of public consultation on democratic reform. "We urge Hongkongers to take to the street on February 1 to express their demand on genuine universal suffrage," said convener Daisy Chan Sin-ying. The theme and route of the February march would be decided next month. But other groups, such as a secondary-school organisation called Student Awaken, are expected to stage protests during the Christmas period. The group announced on social media that it expected about 200 to join a Christmas Eve march from Southorn Playground in Wan Chai to government headquarters in Admiralty.