SYDNEY (AFP): Australia, Dubai and New Zealand among several countries around the world have rung in the new year’s celebrations on Sunday with dozens of states to follow in coming hours.
World renowned landmarks including Times Square, Burj Khalifa and Red Square witnessed fireworks display to bring in the new year.
Celebrations will move to Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and finally the Americas, with dazzling light shows bidding farewell to 2017.
– Hong Kong: “Shooting stars” will be fired from the rooftops of skyscrapers in a 10-minute musical fireworks display.
– Jakarta: Some 500 couples will wed in a mass ceremony sponsored by the government, and festivals and bazaars will be held on main roads and at tourist sites.
– Dubai: The city is replacing its main midnight fireworks with a laser show on the world s tallest tower, the 828-metre Burj Khalifa.
– Moscow: Major boulevards and squares will be decked out to welcome the new year, with fireworks to light up 36 key sites.
– Berlin: Special tents will be set up at the Brandenburg Gate to care for women victims of sexual harassment or those who feel threatened, following mass assaults by migrant groups on women in Cologne two years ago. In Cologne itself, 1,400 police will be mobilised, street lighting will be improved and more video cameras installed.
– Paris: Hundreds of thousands are expected to line the Champs-Elysees for a light show and fireworks at the Arc de Triomphe. Nearly 140,000 police, gendarmes and soldiers will be deployed nationwide to guard against the jihadist threat. But with no major attack in France since mid-2016 the atmosphere was noticeably more festive than in the past two years.
– Rio: Millions will gather on Copacabana beach to watch the fireworks, with many wearing white, the traditional colour to usher in the new year.
Australia rang in the New Year Sunday with a spectacular display of rainbow-coloured fireworks cascading from Sydney Harbour Bridge, as revellers marked the nation s legalisation of gay marriage amid tight security.
About 1.5 million people packed the city s foreshore to watch the pyrotechnics light up the sky above the historic bridge and the iconic opera house, the first major celebrations worldwide after New Zealand.
“This is a fabulous way to see out 2017 — the year that four out of five Sydneysiders said a resounding Yes to marriage equality,” said Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore of the nationwide postal vote in support of change.
Thousands turned out earlier in New Zealand s largest city Auckland for the annual New Year s Eve street party, marked by a major fireworks display from the Sky Tower.