Cities ignite to herald new year


January 01, 2012 11:09:37

New Year’s Day Gallery

The year in review
Video: The year in review
(ABC News)

The Sydney Harbour erupted in a blaze of colour and light at midnight as Australia ushered in the new year in style.

Hundreds of thousands of people crowded into the harbour to witness the fireworks that organisers hailed as the biggest New Year’s Eve display in the world.

Global countdown to 2012
(All times in AEDT)

Tokyo, Japan: 2:00am

Beijing, China: 3:00am

New Delhi, India: 5:30am

Dubai, UAE: 7:00am

Athens, Greece: 9:00am

Rome, Italy: 10:00am

Paris, France: 10:00am

London, UK: 11:00am

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 1:00pm

New York, USA: 4:00pm

Mexico City, Mexico: 5:00pm

Los Angeles, USA: 7:00pm

Honolulu, USA: 9:00pm

In Melbourne, celebrations were interrupted by a fire atop the Melbourne Arts Centre thought to be caused by faulty fireworks.

But that didn’t stop the 600,000-strong crowd enjoying a spectacular golden firework tribute to the city’s gold rush.

And in Brisbane, 500,000 revellers packed into the city, Fortitude Valley and South Bank to see in 2012.

But it was Sydney’s display that set the world standard that organisers believe won’t be beaten.

After more than 15 months of planning, official festivities began with a 12-minute fireworks display under the theme A Time To Dream.

Seven tonnes of fireworks were fired from barges, the foreshore and from the bridge itself.

A giant four-coloured rainbow beamed from the Sydney Harbour Bridge as a symbol of hope and renewal.

The fireworks display included new wonders including cloud-shaped fireworks, butterflies and strobing golden waterfalls from the base of the bridge.

Sydney fireworks creative director Marc Newson said his theme came with a message of hope for a better year ahead.

“It’s absolutely inspiring, it’s given me a lump in my throat,” spectator Miranda Fiske said.

Irish tourist Connor Burstow added: “It’s a great theme really, spectacular, thought-provoking and awe-inspiring.”

Sydney organisers expected about 2.6 million Australians would watch the famed show light up the harbour, with an international viewing audience of about 1 billion people.

fireworks ring in the New Year above Sydney harbour
Celebratory fireworks ring in the New Year above Sydney Harbour. (AAP: Tracey Nearmy)

Australia joined other countries who have already rung in the new year, behind New Zealand and time zone-switching Samoa.

Crowds in Canberra’s Civic Square and throughout the national capital enjoyed a 15-minute fireworks show at midnight as well as a show for families earlier in the evening.

Revellers in Tasmania rang in the New Year at the Falls Festival and along Hobart’s waterfront.

In her new year message, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said 2012 would be a time for “new hope and new beginnings”.

“We’ve achieved remarkable things in our nation’s journey,” she said.

“But I firmly believe that even better days lie ahead.

“Together let’s make 2012 a year of which every Australian can be proud.”

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said 2011 was a testing time for many Australians, with the new year a time to reflect and set goals.

“The challenges of nature, economic uncertainty and cost of living all tested us but Australians are a strong, resourceful and resilient people,” he said.

“We came through last year. The challenge is to make 2012 a year of hope, reward and opportunity.”

Beijing welcomes in 2012
The Qi Nian Temple is illuminated as Beijing celebrates the new year. (Getty Images: Lintao Zhang)

Hong Kong’s glittering extravaganzas staged over the harbours helped set the standard with Sydney’s, but the mood was more sombre in Tokyo where celebrations were overshadowed by memories of January’s earthquake and tsunami.

New Zealand was among the first places to see in the new year but heavy rain over most of the country put a damper on parties, with two major celebrations in the North Island cancelled due to the weather.

In Moscow, thousands gathered in Red Square for another massive firework display sending rockets 140 metres into the midnight sky, but the sale of all alcohol was banned in a bid to prevent the revelry getting out of hand.

London, meanwhile, is gearing up for a display over the River Thames to usher in a year in which it will host the Olympic Games for the first time in over 60 years.

More than a million revellers are also expected to flock to New York’s Times Square where pop diva Lady Gaga and tenor Placido Domingo are among the star-studded line-up.

In and around Paris, police have been mobilised in a bid to prevent a wave of car burnings that occurs annually in some quarters.

In Rio, two million white-clad party-goers – Brazilians and foreign tourists – are expected to ring in the New Year on Copacabana beach, watching a spectacular “green” fireworks extravaganza.



First posted

January 01, 2012 00:07:00

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