New Year's Eve in Sydney to be the "best in the world"

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The Independent Online

The city of Sydney has announced plans for the 2009 New Year's Eve celebrations, promising a stunning show and the largest and most technologically advanced fireworks display in the world.

Attendees have been invited to wear blue to the event, which has the theme of "Awaken the Spirit," derived from an Aboriginal celebration. The concept was devised by Australian broadcaster and writer Rhonda Roberts, a member of the Bundjalung Nation who also directed part of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.

"My Aboriginal ancestors believe we need to gather and Awaken the Spirit each year," said Roberts. "New Year's Eve is much the same, it's a time of excitement and new beginnings. I think Sydney's spirit is reflected by the colour blue, it's soulful, sexy, sophisticated and blue is the colour of our stunning harbour and summer sky."

Officials have spent 15 months planning the display, held in the first major city to welcome in the New Year. Well over a million people traditionally watch two displays in Sydney Harbour, a family event at 9PM ahead of the larger show at midnight. There is also an airshow, a boat parade and giant video projections on the Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylons.

This year's celebration will use over 3,000 kilograms of explosive devices, including approximately 10,000 shooting comets and 100,000 individual pyrotechnic effects fired from Sydney Harbour Bridge and seven barges on Sydney Harbour. For the first time, microchip fireworks will be used to create advanced designs with more control than ever before. Ahead of the event, four indigenous vessels will conduct a traditional smoking ceremony to cleanse the harbor whilst sailing around the Sydney Opera House.

The Sydney Fireworks display is broadcast around the world on December 31 and January 1 as other countries welcome in the New Year.

Berlin, London and New York also host shows with attendances of around one million. Two kilometers of street are transformed into a giant party in Berlin, with live music, international food and laser shows. London's display is featured around the iconic London Eye, whilst New York hosts the world-famous "ball dropping" in Times Square. Sydney, however, has a clear advantage - January's average low temperature is 18.7°C (66°F) compared to -3°C (26.6°F) in New York and Berlin.

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