Australia sees in the New Year with its legendary firework display over Sydney


Australia rang in the New Year with a spectacular fireworks display in Sydney, sending rainbow-coloured showers into the night sky and defying the global terror attacks that cast a pall over 2016.

Around 1.5 million people packed Australia’s biggest city to watch as the seven tons of midnight fireworks erupted from Sydney Harbour Bridge, with the extravaganza beamed to television sets and phones across the world.

Two hours later, Japan ushered in 2017 in style, with thousands packing the streets of Tokyo and releasing balloons into the air in celebration of the new year.

South Korea, Russia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia have also now rung in the New Year with street celebrations and fireworks. 

Happy New Year! Pink, purple and orange fireworks explode over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House

Happy New Year! Pink, purple and orange fireworks explode over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House

And they're off! The year 2017 began in Sydney with a dazzling fireworks display over Sydney Harbour Bridge

And they’re off! The year 2017 began in Sydney with a dazzling fireworks display over Sydney Harbour Bridge

The midnight fireworks appear like lightning from Sydney Harbour Bridge in this electrifying photo

The midnight fireworks appear like lightning from Sydney Harbour Bridge in this electrifying photo

This year's spectacular fireworks display in Sydney paid homage to the late singers Prince and David Bowie

This year’s spectacular fireworks display in Sydney paid homage to the late singers Prince and David Bowie

At one point the word 'Sydney' was spelled out with fireworks as revellers partied on boats in the harbour 

At one point the word ‘Sydney’ was spelled out with fireworks as revellers partied on boats in the harbour

As the clock struck midnight more than $1 million worth of fireworks lit up the night sky in Sydney

As the clock struck midnight more than $1 million worth of fireworks lit up the night sky in Sydney

Eager partygoers camped out at spots around the harbour from as early as Friday in an effort to ensure they had prime viewing for Australia's biggest annual celebration

Eager partygoers camped out at spots around the harbour from as early as Friday in an effort to ensure they had prime viewing for Australia’s biggest annual celebration

With the Sydney Harbour Bridge lit purple, fireworks exploded from the lower road of the bridge in an effort to produce 'Purple Rain' - one of Prince's most famous songs

With the Sydney Harbour Bridge lit purple, fireworks exploded from the lower road of the bridge in an effort to produce ‘Purple Rain’ – one of Prince’s most famous songs

Tonga and Samoa in the Polynesian Triangle and Kiribati in the Central Pacific were among the first places in the world to see in 2017.

They entered the New Year at 10am GMT on Saturday, 31 December, celebrating with traditional dancing and flame throwing.

Auckland, in New Zealand, followed ringing in the New Year at 11am GMT. Five hundred kilos of fireworks were blasted from the city’s Sky Tower in just five minutes with Max Key, the son of former Prime Minister John Key, performing a DJ set.

Danish tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, who is in Auckland, tweeted: ‘Wishing everyone a happy and healthy New Year from Auckland! Excited to see what 2017 has in store.’

The last place on earth to observe 2017 will be remote and uninhabited US islands, including Baker Island and Howland Island.

Sydney Harbour Bridge was doused in the bright light of an estimated seven tonnes of fireworks during two displays

Fireworks explode over the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge as Australia ushers in the New Year in Sydney

Fireworks explode over the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge as Australia ushers in the New Year in Sydney

Fireworks pour over the Harbour Bridge as Australia ushers in the New Year in Sydney

Fireworks pour over the Harbour Bridge as Australia ushers in the New Year in Sydney

People surrounding Sydney Harbour are dressed up to watch the fireworks on New Year's Eve 

People surrounding Sydney Harbour are dressed up to watch the fireworks on New Year’s Eve

Sydney’s visual feast paid tribute to some of the international musical legends who died this year, including David Bowie and Prince, with purple rain pouring off the bridge in an early display and firework ‘stars’ soaring high above the harbour. Bowie lived in Sydney for about 10 years during the 1980s and ’90s.

The fireworks launched from barges on the harbor also included a ‘Willy Wonka moment’ in tribute to the late actor Gene Wilder’s most famous role.

2016 has seen repeated bloodshed, most recently a deadly truck attack at a Berlin Christmas market, a similar incident on Bastille Day in France that killed 86 people, and atrocities in Turkey and the Middle East.

But the New South Wales state premier urged ‘business as usual’ as a larger-than-usual crowd gathered due to the weekend timing and warm weather.

‘My encouragement to everyone is to enjoy New Year’s Eve… in the knowledge that police are doing everything they can to keep us safe,’ Premier Mike Baird said.

Auckland, in New Zealand, was the first major city to ring in 2017. At 11am GMT, five hundred kilos of fireworks were blasted from the city's Sky Tower in just five minutes

Auckland, in New Zealand, was the first major city to ring in 2017. At 11am GMT, five hundred kilos of fireworks were blasted from the city’s Sky Tower in just five minutes

The pyrotechnic display included 500kgs of fireworks, 1 tonne of equipment and 10 kilometres of wire

The pyrotechnic display included 500kgs of fireworks, 1 tonne of equipment and 10 kilometres of wire

Different coloured fireworks shot out from the Sky Tower in many directions as bright lights lit up the building

Different coloured fireworks shot out from the Sky Tower in many directions as bright lights lit up the building

The SkyTower firework display during New Year's Eve celebrations on January 1, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand

The New Year was heralded with a bang in New Zealand

As the fireworks went off in Auckland, Max Key, the son of former Prime Minister John Key, performed a DJ set

Crowds are pictured gathered to watch the SkyTower firework display during New Year's Eve celebrations in Auckland 

There were a number of other reported threats during the holiday period, in Asia-Pacific and elsewhere.

In Melbourne, police foiled a ‘significant’ Islamic State-inspired Christmas Day terror plot.

Indonesia said it foiled plans by an IS-linked group for a Christmas-time suicide bombing, and 52 died in the Philippines in bomb attacks blamed on Islamist militants.

Israel on Friday issued a warning of imminent ‘terrorist attacks’ to tourists and western targets in India.

Despite the terror fears, revellers in Hong Kong and Taipei lined the city streets to watch firework performances.

Shoppers in Japan had earlier filled markets to buy tuna and crabs – seen as expensive items for special feasts – for New Year’s Day family gatherings.

This year’s feverish countdown to midnight will also last longer than usual – an extra second – as a so-called ‘leap second’ is introduced to compensate for a slowdown in the Earth’s rotation.

When the clock eventually chimes midnight in London, a total of 12,000 fireworks will paint the night sky during the Mayor’s showcase display on the banks of the Thames, watched by around 110,000 people.

Some of the stars the world lost in 2016 will be honoured during the 12-minute spectacle, as Bowie, Prince and the Two Ronnies, which included the late Ronnie Corbett, are to feature in the soundtrack.

In Edinburgh, the world-renowned Hogmanay street party will see 80,000 punters flock to the city centre to enjoy music from The Charlatans, while Paolo Nutini fronts a concert in the gardens.

But the New Year enthusiasm is at risk of being dampened in northern England and Wales, as rain is set to sweep across areas including Manchester, Leeds and possibly Cardiff at midnight, the Met Office said.

Fireworks explode above Singapore's financial district at the stroke of midnight to mark the New Year's celebrations

Fireworks explode above Singapore’s financial district at the stroke of midnight to mark the New Year’s celebrations

Fireworks explode in Marina Bay during New Year celebrations in Singapore

Fireworks explode in Marina Bay during New Year celebrations in Singapore

Fireworks illuminate the sky near Malaysia's landmark Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur

Fireworks illuminate the sky near Malaysia’s landmark Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur

Partygoers wearing glasses in the shape of 2017 pose during a new year countdown event at Shibuya crossing in Tokyo

Partygoers wearing glasses in the shape of 2017 pose during a new year countdown event at Shibuya crossing in Tokyo

Revellers wave hands as they take part in a new year countdown event at Shibuya crossing in Tokyo, Japan

Revellers wave hands as they take part in a new year countdown event at Shibuya crossing in Tokyo, Japan

A man blows party horns during a new year countdown event at Shibuya crossing in Tokyo, Japan

A man blows party horns during a new year countdown event at Shibuya crossing in Tokyo, Japan

The party kicked off in Tokyo with locals wearing various costumes during a new year countdown event at Shibuya crossing

The party kicked off in Tokyo with locals wearing various costumes during a new year countdown event at Shibuya crossing

Revellers release balloons as they take part in New Year celebrations in Tokyo, Japan

Fireworks explode over Victoria Harbour to celebrate the New Year's Eve in Hong Kong

Fireworks explode over Victoria Harbour to celebrate the New Year’s Eve in Hong Kong

2017 was written in lights on one building in Victoria Harbour as the fireworks exploded 

2017 was written in lights on one building in Victoria Harbour as the fireworks exploded

Partygoers wait for fireworks on a waterfront as they take part in New Year's Eve celebrations in Hong Kong

Partygoers wait for fireworks on a waterfront as they take part in New Year’s Eve celebrations in Hong Kong

People watch an organised New Year's Eve countdown show in Beijing, China

People watch an organised New Year’s Eve countdown show in Beijing, China

Fireworks explode over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House during the 9pm show on New Year's Eve

Fireworks explode over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House during the 9pm show on New Year’s Eve

An early fireworks display was held for children at 9pm Sydney time ahead of the big event at midnight

An early fireworks display was held for children at 9pm Sydney time ahead of the big event at midnight

People film the Family Fireworks on their phones at 9pm on New Year's Eve at McMahons Point on Sydney Harbour

People film the Family Fireworks on their phones at 9pm on New Year’s Eve at McMahons Point on Sydney Harbour

The 9.00pm New Year's Eve Family Fireworks go off at Sydney Harbour with the Opera House and Harbour Bridge pictured

The 9.00pm New Year’s Eve Family Fireworks go off at Sydney Harbour with the Opera House and Harbour Bridge pictured

When will countries around the world enter 2017?

Saturday 10:00 GMT – Tonga, Samoa and Christmas Island, Kiribati

Saturday 13:00 GMT – Much of Australia

Saturday 15:00 GMT – Japan, South Korea, some parts of Russian and Indonesia

Saturday 18:30 GMT – India and Sri Lanka

Saturday 20:00 GMT – Azerbaijan and eight other countries including Armenia, UAE, Oman and the Seychelles

Saturday 22:00 GMT – Greece and 30 other countries, including South Africa, Syria, Finland and Latvia

Saturday 23:00 GMT – Germany and 43 other countries, including Norway, France, Italy and Tunisia

Sunday 00:00 GMT – UK and 26 other countries, including Morocco, Ghana and Ireland

Sunday 04:00 GMT – Small regions of Canada and 29 other countries including Bolivia, Venezuela and Barbados

Sunday 06:00 GMT – Large parts of the U.S and Central America

Sunday 09:00 GMT – Alaska/USA and regions of French Polynesia ​

Sunday 12:00 GMT – Much of US Minor Outlying Islands

Source: Timeanddate.com 

In the States, more than 300,000 visitors are expected to descend on Las Vegas for an extravagant New Year’s Eve celebration.

Nightclubs are pulling out all the stops with performances from DJ Calvin Harris, rappers T-Pain and Kendrick Lamar and artists Drake and Bruno Mars. The city’s celebrity chefs have crafted elaborate prix fixe menus complete with caviar and champagne toasts.

An eight-minute fireworks show will kick off at the stroke of midnight, with rockets launching from the tops of half a dozen casinos.

Federal officials have ranked the celebration just below the Super Bowl and on par with the festivities in Times Square. FBI and Secret Service agents will work alongside local police departments that are putting all hands on deck for the big night.

Fireworks are pictured in central Vladivostok as Russia's Pacific coast celebrates the arrival of New Year 2017

Fireworks are pictured in central Vladivostok as Russia’s Pacific coast celebrates the arrival of New Year 2017

People gather under a 2016 and a 2017 sign in central Vladivostok as Russia's Pacific coast celebrates the arrival of New Year

People gather under a 2016 and a 2017 sign in central Vladivostok as Russia’s Pacific coast celebrates the arrival of New Year

Kimono-clad women take a selfie in front of a wooden torii gate at Meiji Shrine as the shinto ritual preparing for the New Year is held at the shrine in Tokyo, Japan

Kimono-clad women take a selfie in front of a wooden torii gate at Meiji Shrine as the shinto ritual preparing for the New Year is held at the shrine in Tokyo, Japan

Shinto priests walk past paper lanterns after holding he shinto ritual preparing for the New Year at the main sanctuary at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo

Shinto priests walk past paper lanterns after holding he shinto ritual preparing for the New Year at the main sanctuary at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo

A shinto musician is leaving for the shrine's main sanctuary at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, Japan

A shinto musician is leaving for the shrine’s main sanctuary at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, Japan

A policeman stands guard ahead of New Year celebrations at Kuta beach on Bali island, Indonesia, on Saturday

A policeman stands guard ahead of New Year celebrations at Kuta beach on Bali island, Indonesia, on Saturday

Balinese girls prepare to perform during a New Year celebration in Denpasar, on Indonesia's resort island of Bali

Balinese girls prepare to perform during a New Year celebration in Denpasar, on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali

Various form of dances and music have made Bali's art and culture one of the most diverse in the world

Various form of dances and music have made Bali’s art and culture one of the most diverse in the world

Balinese children prepare to perform during a New Year celebration in Denpasar, on Indonesia's resort island of Bali

Balinese children prepare to perform during a New Year celebration in Denpasar, on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali

Pacific Islanders are the first to enter 2017 – 14 hours before Britain joins in the celebrations

Happy New Year from one of the first places on the planet to see 2017 – an island 2,800 miles east of Sydney, Australia, that was celebrating the next year while many were still asleep.

Despite being about the same longitude as Hawaii (one of the last places to see 2017) Kiribati and the collection of islands and atolls that make up the country chose to be in the Australasian time zone and so sits on that side of the International Date Line.

New Year celebrations at Kiribati, the first place on earth to enter 2017, featured traditional costume and dancing

New Year celebrations at Kiribati, the first place on earth to enter 2017, featured traditional costume and dancing

Kiribati and the collection of islands and atolls that make up the country chose to be in the Australasian time zone. Her school children are pictured celebrating  

Kiribati and the collection of islands and atolls that make up the country chose to be in the Australasian time zone. Her school children are pictured celebrating

To the north a few hundred miles, almost exactly a day later, Hawaii will celebrate being in 2017 when for the 100,000 population of Kiribati the new year will have well and truly started.

For the island people new year is about remembering those who have passed away in the year that has ended.

In a rare first the children of the island nation – which is made up of 33 coral atolls – wished the planet a Happy New Year from the nation which cannot compete with the fireworks splendour of many developed nations.

Independent from Britain on July 12, 1979, Kiribati relies heavily on phosphates and fish for industry and the highest point on the islands is reportedly only three metres above sea level.

In Japan, temple bells will echo at midnight as families gather around noodles and revellers flock to shrines for the biggest holiday in Japan.

In China, residents in Beijing and Shanghai, China’s two largest cities, will pass New Year’s Eve in a relative state of security lockdown, according to Chinese media reports citing police.

The Bund waterfront in Shanghai will not have any celebrations, authorities announced this week, while the sale, use and transportation of fireworks in central Shanghai will be prohibited altogether.

Large buildings that often display light shows will also stay dark. More than 30 people died two years ago in a deadly stampede on Shanghai’s waterfront, where 300,000 people had gathered to watch a planned light show.

Beijing police also said countdowns, lightshows, lotteries and other organized activities will not be held in popular shopping districts such as Sanlitun and Guomao. Beijing police advised citizens to avoid crowded areas, closely watch elderly relatives and children, and be aware of exit routes in venues.

In South Korea, hundreds of thousands of South Koreans ushered in the new year with a massive protest demanding the resignation of disgraced President Park Geun-hye. It was the ninth straight weekend of protests that led to Park’s impeachment on December 9 over a corruption scandal.

The evening rally overlapped with Seoul’s traditional bell-tolling ceremony at the Bosinkgak pavilion at midnight, which was also expected to be a political statement against Park.

Two women gather to eat grapes in time to the midday strokes in Plaza del Sol square, as a 'warm-up' of the New Year's Eve celebrations in Madrid

Two women gather to eat grapes in time to the midday strokes in Plaza del Sol square, as a ‘warm-up’ of the New Year’s Eve celebrations in Madrid

Several thousand people eat grapes at midday during a New Year's Eve party at City Hall square in the village of Vilagarcia, in Galicia, northwestern Spain

Several thousand people eat grapes at midday during a New Year’s Eve party at City Hall square in the village of Vilagarcia, in Galicia, northwestern Spain

According to tradition, all people in Spain will eat one grape with each stroke of midday to be lucky in the upcoming year

According to tradition, all people in Spain will eat one grape with each stroke of midday to be lucky in the upcoming year

A passenger plane flies in front of a rainbow during New Year's Eve celebrations in Taipei, Taiwan, 31 December

A passenger plane flies in front of a rainbow during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Taipei, Taiwan, 31 December

Even on New Year's Eve, protesters shout slogans as they hold signs and candles during a rally demanding the resignation of South Korean President Park Geun-hye in Seoul, South Korea on Saturday

Even on New Year’s Eve, protesters shout slogans as they hold signs and candles during a rally demanding the resignation of South Korean President Park Geun-hye in Seoul, South Korea on Saturday

Indian policeman check bags as people walk through metal detectors as security is increased following the terror threat on the eve of new year celebration in Bangalore, India

Indian policeman check bags as people walk through metal detectors as security is increased following the terror threat on the eve of new year celebration in Bangalore, India

Palestinian artist Yazed Abu Jarad puts the final touches on a sand sculpture that reads "Welcome 2017" at a beach in the northern Gaza Strip

Palestinian artist Yazed Abu Jarad puts the final touches on a sand sculpture that reads “Welcome 2017” at a beach in the northern Gaza Strip

Meanwhile, up to two million people are expected to party at Rio’s Copacabana beach. But with Brazil mired in its worst recession in a century, the fireworks have been cut to just 12 minutes.

Normally boisterous Bangkok will see in the new year on a more sombre note as the nation grieves for King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died in October.

Rome has deployed armoured vehicles and greater numbers of security forces around the Coliseum and St Peter’s Square, where Pope Francis will celebrate a “Te Deum” hymn of thanksgiving.

And Moscow police deployed more than 5,000 officers backed by thousands more from the new national guard and volunteer militia to maintain order.

Thousands traditionally gather in Red Square, but for the second year in a row, the area was open solely to 6,000 invitees.

Armed police watch over the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace in Westminster, London ahead of tonight's New Year celebrations

Armed police watch over the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace in Westminster, London ahead of tonight’s New Year celebrations

Security surrounding this year's New Year's Eve event in London has been heightened following a terrorist attack at a Christmas market in Berlin earlier this month

Security surrounding this year’s New Year’s Eve event in London has been heightened following a terrorist attack at a Christmas market in Berlin earlier this month

London prepares for the New Years Eve celebrations with fencing put up around areas such as Westminster 

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