New Year Celebrations: from Kiritimati to Samoa – via Britain
Charlie Cooper is Health Correspondent for The Independent, i, and The Independent on Sunday, writing on the NHS, medical advances, and international health. Since joining the papers as an editorial assistant, he has been nominated for young journalist of the year at both the Press Awards and the British Journalism Awards.
Monday 31 December 2012
Small beginnings of the big night (10:00-11:00 GMT) 2013 began on the little Pacific island where the sun always rises first. Kiritimati, or Christmas Island, the easternmost island of the nation of Kiribati, is the first significant human habitation west of the international date line. Its inhabitants were the first to usher in the new year, followed an hour later by revellers in Auckland, New Zealand.
When one New Year’s Eve is not enough (13:00 GMT)
In Sydney, Australia, two hours further west, the sky above the Harbour Bridge erupted to the sound of £4.2m exploding fireworks. Officials claimed 1.5 million people turned out to watch the show. Among them were film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jamie Foxx, who were reported to have flown from Canberra to Las Vegas, 17 hours behind Sydney, to do it all again.
Rockets launched from Pyongyang (15:00-16:00 GMT)
As Japan’s traditional “watch-night” bells rang out 108 times in temples around the country, North Korea was reported to have held its first ever New Year’s Eve fireworks display. Not to be outdone by Sydney, Hong Kong’s £1m firework display was said to be the biggest in the island’s history.
Burmese revellers come in from the cold (17:30 GMT)
In another first, tens of thousands of revellers took to the streets of Rangoon, Burma’s largest city, for the country’s first major public celebration of the new year. Under the military junta large public gatherings were banned, but since the regime gave up power two years ago, the Burmese people have enjoyed unprecedented new freedoms. In neighbouring India, many events were cancelled and celebrations subdued as a mark of respect to “Damini”, the 23-year-old gang-rape victim whose death has shocked the nation.
Big bangs and big spenders in Dubai (21:00 GMT)
While reports in the UK suggested that more than half of us stayed at home on New Year’s Eve to save money and avoid the inclement weather, one yachting club in Dubai was offering £40,414 for a chartered 165ft yacht from which to watch fireworks at the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa.
2013 comes to Europe (21:00-23:00)
Fireworks lit up Moscow’s Red Square as 2013 sped westwards and a special concert was held at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate featuring music from the Pet Shop Boys, Bonnie Tyler and, oddly, British boy band Blue. Fireworks displays were also held in Amsterdam, Stockholm and Paris, where revellers flocked to the Champs-Elysees for a view of the rockets launched from the Eiffel Tower
London’s Olympic year comes to an end (Midnight GMT)
In London, Britain’s Olympic year came to a fitting conclusion as 150 volunteers from the Games helped to steward revellers at a fireworks display above the Thames. More than 250,000 were expected to defy the rain, lining the river to watch a display centred on the London Eye. Boris Johnson promised that 2013 “would be every bit as exciting as 2012”. In Derry-Londonderry, the biggest fireworks display ever seen in the area started early at 8:13pm, as the city celebrated becoming the UK’s first City of Culture. As usual, record crowds were expected at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations.
Rio spectacular (02:00 GMT)
Crowds in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro were wowed by a 16-minute firework display at Copacabana Beach. But in Venezuela, a traditional end-of-year concert in Caracas was cancelled, with the mayor impelling people to stay at home to pray for President Hugo Chavez, who has suffered complications following cancer surgery.
Party at Roman’s (04:00 GMT)
Russian billionaire and Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich saw in 2013 at a lavish £5m party at his estate on the Caribbean island of St Bart’s, with 400 guests in attendance.
Gangnam style (05:00 GMT)
Security was tight in New York’s Times Square as the US welcomed the new year. With hundreds of thousands crowding in to watch the traditional ball dropping ceremony, the city’s police commissioner, Ray Kelly, promised that the Square would the “safest place in the world” to party. Rapper Psy led the crowd in a mass rendition of “Gangnam Style”.
Revels ended (11:00 GMT)
The global celebrations will come to an end in American Samoa this morning. Its neighbour Samoa used to celebrate new year on the same day, but a change to the international date line last year has left the two countries 25 hours apart.
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