AFP
3 minute read
31 Dec 2018
10:58 pm

PICS: Sydney, Hong Kong kick off 2019 parties with dazzling fireworks

AFP

In Hong Kong, hundreds of thousands of revellers packed the streets for a spectacular 10-minute show that used $1.8 million worth of fireworks.

Fireworks explode over Victoria Harbour during New Year celebrations in Hong Kong on January 1, 2019. (Photo by ANTHONY WALLACE / AFP)

Sydney and Hong Kong put on stunning fireworks displays to welcome to the New Year, among the first in a wave of celebrations for billions around the world.

Australia’s largest city organised its biggest-ever fireworks display and used new effects to light up the skyline for 12 minutes. More than 1.5 million spectators packed the harbour front and parks to enjoy the spectacle.

To mark the international year of indigenous languages in 2019, the harbour also hosted a ceremony celebrating Aboriginal heritage that included animations projected onto the bridge’s pylons.

New Year’s Eve fireworks erupt over Sydney’s iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House during the fireworks show on January 1, 2019. (Photo by PETER PARKS / AFP)

In Hong Kong, hundreds of thousands of revellers packed the streets on both sides of Victoria Harbour for a spectacular 10-minute show that used $1.8 million worth of fireworks.

In the Indonesian capital Jakarta, more than 500 couples tied the knot in a free mass wedding organised by the government. Fireworks shows were cancelled out of respect for tsunami victims.

New Year’s Eve celebrations were also called off in nearby Banten province, where the disaster struck on December 22 killing more than 400 people.

Fireworks explode from Taipei 101 building during Taipei New Year’s Eve countdown party in Taipei, Taiwan on January 1, 2019. (Photo by HSU Tsun-hsu / AFP)

In Japan, locals flocked to temples to ring in 2019, as US boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather came out of retirement to beat Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa in a multi-million-dollar “exhibition” bout outside Tokyo.

A strong police presence has become a key element of the festivities, to protect crowds that could be targeted in terror and vehicle attacks.

Russia will see in the new year progressively over several time zones, having started in far eastern Kamchatka.

In Moscow, concerts and light shows will be held across the city’s parks and more than 1,000 ice rinks have been opened for merrymakers.

But a tower block gas explosion that killed at least four people and left dozens more missing has cast a shadow over New Year’s celebrations — the biggest holiday of the year in Russia.

In Paris, a fireworks display and sound and light show under the theme “fraternity” is scheduled on the Champs-Elysees despite plans for further “yellow vest” anti-government protests at the famed avenue.

Revellers gather along the Champs-Elysees waiting for the start of New Year’s celebrations in the French capital Paris on December 31, 2018. – A fireworks display and sound and light show under the theme “fraternity” is set to go ahead on the Champs-Elysees despite plans for further “yellow vest” anti-government protests at the famed avenue. (Photo by Zakaria ABDELKAFI / AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron in a televised address shortly before the new year, acknowledged that the French government had to do better.

In Berlin, music lovers will party at a concert at the Brandenburg Gate, but a popular German tradition of setting off fireworks to mark the occasion has been banned in some other cities over safety concerns.

Britain’s capital London will usher in the New Year by celebrating its relationship with Europe despite the turmoil over Brexit and the impending departure from the European Union.

Scottish capital Edinburgh’s traditional Hogmanay celebrations will also have a pro-European theme.

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