Global fireworks party welcomes in 2014

By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, January 1, 2014 9:57 EDT
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Fireworks exploding over Sydney Harbour Bridge, on Jan. 1, 2012. File photo via AFP.
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Times Square erupted in joy and a shower of multi-colored confetti as New York City’s famed crystal ball eased down to mark the year’s final seconds and usher in 2014 on Wednesday.

A wave of spectacular firework displays boomed and glittered around the globe to ring in the New Year, from a record-shattering show in Dubai, to Sydney and Rio de Janeiro.

In New York an estimated million people, braving freezing temperatures and some camping out since morning for a good spot, joined in a chorus for the countdown to 2014.

US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor — a native New Yorker — activated the mechanism that sent the Big Apple’s famed 5,500 kilo flashy ball down a pole to signal the start of a new year.

Loudspeakers boomed out Frank Sinatra’s signature song “New York, New York” for the first moments of 2014, and three astronauts from the International Space Station appeared on a giant screen TV to wish the crowd a happy new year.

Live music helped keep the revellers warm, from the likes of Miley Cyrus — wrapped in floor-length white fur — and Melissa Etheridge, who sang a version of John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

“It’s really cold but there’s a lot of entertainment. It’s fun!,” said Sara, a New Jersey woman who arrived at seven in the morning for a front row spot.

Boisterous parties in other US cities followed as the start of the new year swept west.

A jubilant crowd gathered in Jackson Square in New Orleans, and some 70,000 partied with the veteran country music star Hank Williams, Jr. in Nashville, Tennessee.

Around the world, fireworks lit up the skies to welcome the New Year.

The Middle East hub of Dubai shattered the world record for the largest ever pyrotechnic display with a show involving more than half a million fireworks.

The glittering display lasted around six minutes and spanned 100 kilometres (60 miles) of the coast, focusing on the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower at 830 metres.

People crowded below snapping pictures of the thundering skies.

“It’s amazing,” said May Hinnawi, a 35-year-old Syrian. “I will tell my children and grand children I was here to see this event.”

Some 2.3 million thronged Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana Beach for a raucous celebration involving some 24 tonnes of fireworks.

Europe joined the party with a giant fireworks salvo in London.

Huge cheers went up as parliament’s clock tower chimed in 2014, as people packed the banks of the River Thames to watch the pyrotechnics at the London Eye observation wheel.

About 50,000 took part in “the world’s first multi-sensory fireworks display”, when peach snow, edible banana confetti and orange-scented bubbles descended on a section of the crowd.

Across Europe, Berliners partied at the Brandenburg Gate and thousands of cheering Spaniards in Madrid saw in 2014 by gobbling down twelve grapes — one with each clock chime — in a New Year tradition.

Hundreds of thousands thronged the Champs Elysees in Paris, although celebrations were marred by the fatal stabbing of a 20-year-old man by a gang of thieves in the Trocadero Gardens near the Eiffel Tower.

One man was killed by fireworks in France and another in the Netherlands.

Sydney spectacular starts the show

Kiribati and Samoa in the Pacific were first to see in the New Year at 1000 GMT Tuesday, in a wave of celebrations set to finish on the United States’ remote Howland and Baker Islands at 1200 GMT Wednesday.

Sydney staged the first of the world’s major pyrotechnic shows, with seven tonnes of explosives lighting up Australia’s biggest city.

Fireworks shot off the Opera House for the first time in more than 10 years in a show which attracted some 1.5 million people.

In Japan, millions visited local temples and shrines to greet the new year with contemplation and to pray for peace for relatives.

Seoul rang the city’s 15th-century bronze bell 33 times, reflecting an ancient New Year’s custom.

For areas ravaged by Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, celebrations were muted.

In the ruined farming village of San Isidro, residents were still living with the overpowering stench of death as 1,400 corpses stacked in black body bags lay in a field, more than seven weeks after the tragedy.

And in Indonesia’s sharia stronghold of Banda Aceh, New Year’s Eve celebrations were banned for the first time with Islamic police seizing thousands of firecrackers and cardboard trumpets.

In Mumbai, though, revellers celebrated a court victory which pushed back closing time in bars and restaurants to 5:00 am instead of 1:30 am.

South Africa meanwhile bade farewell to 2013 with a 3D video send-off of Nelson Mandela as the country entered a new year without its beloved icon.

Mandela’s face was mapped onto Cape Town’s city hall where in 1990 he gave his first speech after 27 years in apartheid incarceration.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
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