Loading articles...

New Zealand, Australia first to ring in the New Year

Spectator boats in Sydney Harbour look on as New Year's Eve fireworks erupt over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Jan. 1, 2013. MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images

Auckland, New Zealand and Sydney, Australia were the first major cities in the world to usher in the New Year.

The celebrations began with a fireworks display atop the Auckland Sky Tower in the city centre.

The pyrotechnics fired from two levels of the 328-metre Sky Tower, which is said to be the tallest structure in the southern hemisphere.

According to local media, there was concern that bad weather would hamper the fireworks, but it cleared in time for the display.

Sydney exploded in colour as fireworks were launched from seven skyscrapers, with seven tonnes of pyrotechnics fired from seven barges on the harbour. There was also 60 tonnes of lighting and pyrotechnics on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The theme of the celebration was “embrace.”

Local media estimated there was a flotilla of around 3,000 boats on the harbour to watch the event.

Singer Kylie Minogue, who was designated creative ambassador for the fireworks, had a big input into the soundtrack that accompanied the pyrotechnic show.
They said 11,000 shells were fired, which cost US$6.8 million.

The City of Sydney local government predicted that 1.5 million Sydneysiders would see the fireworks around the harbour, with over a billion people watching it on TV or on the Internet.

Fireworks ushered in the New Year over Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour.

The eight-minute pyrotechnic show was launched from both land and sea, surrounding the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre where Britain handed over the city’s sovereignty to China in 1997.

Thousands watched the New Year fireworks on both sides of the harbour, despite a cold weather warning with temperatures dropping to 7C.

The show was touted as the largest January 1 fireworks in six-years.

The city usually holds its most spectacular fireworks that last for 20 minutes on Chinese New Year, Hong Kong handover anniversary and Chinese National Day.

Thousands of people gathered around the world’s second-tallest building — the Taipei 101 — for a fireworks show in Taiwan.

The organizers said the fireworks design was based on Igor Stravinsky’s ballet Firebird.

The New Year was marked in temples and shrines across Japan.

At the stroke of midnight the bells at Sensoji temple in downtown Tokyo began to boom out 108 times, a Buddhist tradition  representing each of the sins of mankind.

About three million people are expected to visit this temple alone during the first three days of 2013 for “Hatsumoude,” or the first shrine and temple visits of the new year, when people go to pray for good luck for the coming year.

In Greece, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras told citizens in a televised address that the worst of the country’s financial crisis was over and said 2013 would mark the beginning of a new, brighter chapter in Greek history.