Sparkling Sydney kicks off global party


Sydney kicked off New Year celebrations  with a dazzling fireworks display, the first in a wave of  pyrotechnics to usher in 2014 from Hong Kong to world  record-chasing Dubai.

Seven tonnes of explosives lit up the harbour, with fireworks  shooting off the Opera House for the first time in more than 10  years as part of the December 31 extravaganza.

‘They were absolutely fantastic,’ said Murphy Robertson, from  Denver in the US, after watching the $A6 million show which  attracted some 1.5 million people to harbour vantage points.

‘The Opera House was fantastic, but the thing that really got me  was the sparks, the golden curtain of sparks going off the bridge.’

Dubai meanwhile is hoping to break the Guinness World Record for  the largest display, pledging to set off more than 400,000  fireworks. Kuwait set the mark in 2011 with an hour-long blast of  77,282 fireworks.

Tonga, located near the international dateline, was one of the  first nations to greet 2014, holding a prayer festival that  culminated with a bamboo ‘cannon’ fired into the air.

Antarctica was also among the first places to usher in 2014.  Passengers and crew on a ship awaiting rescue after being stuck for  a week in ice rang in the new year with their specially composed  anthem.

Giving a rousing rendition from the top deck of the Akademik  Shokalskiy in footage posted on YouTube, the Australasian Antarctic  Expedition sang of ‘having fun doing science in Antarctica’, only  to lament in the chorus the ‘bloody great shame we are still stuck  here’.

In Hong Kong, the city’s skyscrapers were lit up by a dazzling  eight-minute pyrotechnics show fired from a 1km line of barges  along Victoria Harbour.

An estimated 400,000 revellers packed the shoreline to watch the  show. Isabella Garrow, a 39-year-old Brazilian living in Jakarta,  was there with her children.

‘They’re used to fireworks on the beach in Rio, so it’s a bit  different. They’re noticing the cold but they’re still excited,’  she told AFP.

In Japan, the celebrations were quieter. Small fireworks  displays were held across the country. But millions of people  turned out to local temples and shrines to greet the new year with  contemplation and to pray for peace for relatives.

For areas ravaged by Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines,  celebrations were much more muted than usual.

In Tacloban, which bore the brunt of the November 8 storm,  officials were preparing a midnight fireworks display to try to  raise spirits in a region where nearly 8000 died or are still  missing.

In Singapore, people flocked to the financial district for  fireworks while thousands of white spheres were launched on Marina  Bay, holding residents’ wishes for 2014.

In Rio de Janeiro, authorities are predicting that 2.3 million  people – a third of them tourists – will crowd Copacabana Beach for  fireworks and pop music.

Major spectaculars will also light up Moscow’s Red Square,  Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate and central London when Big Ben chimes  midnight.

An expected one million revellers will gather in New York to  mark the stroke of midnight and the traditional New Year’s Eve  ball-drop over Times Square.

Source: Sky News

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