New Year's Eve 2017: Celebrations get under way around the world

Revellers in New Zealand and Australia saw in the new year with nonstop pyrotechnics

Lucy Pasha-Robinson
Sunday 31 December 2017 10:48
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New Zealand rings in 2018 with fireworks in Auckland

As the UK prepares to usher in 2018, thousands of people around the world are already celebrating.

In New Zealand, tens of thousands of people took to the streets and beaches as the clock struck midnight at 11am GMT.

Half a tonne of fireworks were set off from Auckland’s Sky Tower, with revellers gazing at the nonstop pyrotechnics that lasted more than five minutes. Preparations for the display reportedly began six months ago to guarantee the coordination of the 3,000 fireworks.

Over 5 minutes of fireworks from the Sky Tower welcomes in the new year in Auckland, New Zealand

In Australia, a massive fireworks display included a rainbow firework to celebrate recently passed legislation legalizing same sex marriage.

Over a million people watched the festivities from Sydney Harbour as the chimes tolled at 1pm GMT. Police in the city tightened security measures ahead of the festivities, including implementing road blocks, but officials said there was no particular alert.

People watch fireworks in the rain at the Marina Bay ahead of the New Year in Singapore
Crowd’s await the fireworks on New Year’s Eve on Sydney Harbour on December 31, 2017 in Sydney, Australia

Arctic temperatures in parts of the US have caused some celebrations to falter. In Omaha, Nebraska, temperatures are forecast to dip to minus 22 degrees on New Year’s Eve, causing organisers to postpone their planned fireworks display.

Fireworks explode over Sydney Harbour during New Year's Eve celebrations

The hundreds of thousands of people heading to New York’s Times Square for the annual celebration may witness the giant ball drop on the second-coldest evening on record for the night, forecasters said. Temperatures are expected to hover around -12 C or colder in midtown Manhattan.

Las Vegas is expecting more than 330,000 people to flock to the city for this evening's celebrations, less than three months after the worst mass shooting in US history.

An eight-minute fireworks display and acts including Bruno Mars, Britney Spears, Celine Dion and the Foo Fighters will keep partiers entertained before and after midnight at properties across Sin City.

Revellers in Edinburgh will come together for one of the world’s biggest street parties later, despite the stormy weather and travel disruption facing parts of Scotland.

Organisers have said that the Hogmanay celebrations will go ahead in full as gusts of up to 80mph are expected to batter parts of the country in the first half of December 31.

Vikings from Shetland’s Up Helly Aa Festival take part in a torchlight procession which marks the start of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay festival. Around 20,000 people, including 17,000 torchbearers, took part in the procession down the Royal Mile, past Holyrood Palace and the Scottish Parliament.

The celebrations run for three days, drawing in an estimated 150,000 people from elsewhere in the UK and around the world.

Hours before midnight, authorities had already reported that scores of people had been injured by celebratory firecrackers in the Philippines, which has some of the most raucous New Year's celebrations in Asia.

Although the number of injuries has tapered off in recent years, largely due to hard economic times and government scare campaigns, the figures remain alarming. President Rodrigo Duterte signed an order in June confining the use of firecrackers to community-designated areas, such as near shopping malls and parks.

Many Filipinos, largely influenced by Chinese tradition, believe that noisy New Year's celebrations drive away evil and misfortune. But they have carried that superstition to extremes, exploding dangerously large firecrackers and firing guns to welcome the new year despite threats of arrest.

Additional reporting by agencies

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