New year celebrations from Sydney to New York

| | Updated on: Jan 01, 2014

Fireworks lit up New Year’s Eve from Sydney to New York as the world welcomed 2014.

There were records to be broken and new traditions to be launched.

Dubai made a pitch for the world fireworks record by shooting off more than 400,000 pyrotechnics along nearly 100 km of its waterfront.

London added taste and aroma to its show, releasing cherry- and strawberry-scented fog to the pyrotechnics over the London Eye on the Thames. Forty thousand grams of banana-flavoured confetti filled the London air.

The biggest early celebrations were in New Zealand and the Australian capital Sydney, where an estimated 1.5 million revellers thronged the harbour to watch 7 tonnes of fireworks explode over the bridge and Opera House.

“I’ve never seen so many people in Sydney,” said 90-year-old Dorothy Humphries, as she and husband Alf, 92, gave up their bid for a ringside seat and settled for a faraway bench. “When we were younger you could just turn up on the night and get a good view.” A pre-bedtime firework display for Australian children at 9 pm (1000 GMT) was followed three hours later with a 12-minute midnight extravaganza to herald 2014.

In New Zealand’s Gisborne, the Rhythm and Vines festival saw the star attraction, German-born internet mogul and one-time fugitive Kim Dotcom with his band.

Buddhist temples across Japan rang out the old year. Many people, some clad in kimonos, flocked to temples and shrines to make wishes for the new year after the country experienced a modest economic recovery in 2013.

Some parts of Asia gave 2014 a more cautious welcome.

In India, people flocked to end-of-year parties at hotels and clubs, braving tight security and curfews amid heightened concerns of sexual violence after a high-profile gang rape a year ago and more recent assaults. In New Delhi, key roads were clustered with check posts.

In Indonesia, authorities in the capital of Aceh province warned residents against holding street New Year celebrations, saying they were a sin.

“We are deploying 150 personnel to prevent gatherings of people lighting fireworks or blowing trumpets on New Year’s Eve,” said Reza Kamili, the chief of the religious police in Banda Aceh.

High security also prevailed in Russia, after two bombings in the southern Russian city of Volgograd claimed more than 30 lives in recent days, weeks before the Winter Olympics are to open in Sochi.

In Berlin, by contrast, hundreds of thousands chanted the countdown and yelled off the final seconds near the Brandenburg Gate. Visitors from around the world strolled in central Berlin through the day, drinking gluehwein and wearing colourful head gear with funny ears and glittering top hats.

German rescue workers were prepared for injuries from fireworks, which normally hurt about 500 people in Berlin alone. In Austria, one man was killed when he went to investigate an unexploded rocket that then went off as he leaned over it.

An estimated 2.3 million people crowded Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana Beach to ring in 2014, the year Brazil is to host the football World Cup.

Singers, musicians, DJs and samba dancers set the tone from three giant stages, under a 16-minute firework display provided by 24 tonnes of pyrotechnics, launched from eleven rafts moored off the beach.

Further north, about a million revellers in New York’s Times Square sang in the New Year as they watched the traditional sparkling crystal ball drop.

In freezing temperatures at midnight, the ball dropped to the sounds of Auld Lang Syne and the classic New York, New York.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a native New Yorker, pressed the button that activated the ball. The honour has recently gone to a series of pop culture icons and politicians, such as Lady Gaga, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and boxer Muhammad Ali.

The Big Apple celebrations also saw performances from stars including Miley Cyrus and Blondie.

Published on January 01, 2014

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