From Sydney to Dubai: Global fireworks party welcomes in 2014

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From Sydney to Dubai: Global fireworks party welcomes in 2014 (Agencies) / 1 January 2014 The world welcomed in 2014 with spectacular firework displays as a wave of pyrotechnic extravaganzas swept around the globe to celebrate the New Year. Record fireworks at Palm Jumeirah on New Year. – AFP With fireworks, dancing and late-night revelry, millions around the world welcomed 2014 on Tuesday, gathering for huge displays of jubilation and unity as the new year arrived. Europe joined in the party with a giant salvo in London, after Dubai attempted to break the work record for the biggest-ever fireworks show and Sydney got the ball rolling ahead of Asia with a dazzling display. Dubai glamour and over-the-top achievements like the world’s tallest skyscraper, sought to break another record by creating the largest fireworks show. In Ukraine, anti-government protesters hoped to set their own record for the most people to sing a national anthem at the same time. Crowds heading to New York City’s Times Square could expect the traditional ball drop but no mayor this year. The new year was to be rung in by US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor instead. Revelers wait in New York’s Times Square to celebrate the New Year on December 31, 2013 in New York City. – AFP In Dubai, the Middle East hub was hoping to break the Guinness World Record by setting off more than 400,000 fireworks.  The glittering display lasted around six minutes and spanned 100 kilometres (60 miles) of the coast, focusing on the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower at 830 metres high.  People crowded in the streets below took pictures as the thundering display filled the skies.  “It’s amazing,” said May Hinnawi, a 35-year-old Syrian. “I will tell my children and grand children I was here to see this event.”  Kuwait set the record in 2011 with an hour-long blast of 77,282 fireworks. Pro-European integration supporters take part in New Year celebrations in Independence Square in central Kiev on December 31, 2013. – Reuters On Kiev’s main square, at least 100,000 Ukrainians sang their national anthem in a sign of support for integration with Europe. The square has been the scene of massive pro-European protests for more than a month, triggered by President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to ditch a key deal with the European Union. Britain planned to welcome 2014 with a mixture of futuristic fireworks and torch-lit tradition. For people in London, the New Year offered the opportunity to taste the fireworks. Fireworks light the sky above the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament over the river Thames during the New Year celebrations in central London just after midnight on January 1, 2014.   AFP The city’s mayor — in conjunction with telecommunications company Vodafone — said this year’s explosive display would come packed with peach-flavored snow, edible banana confetti and orange-scented bubbles, allowing people to feast with more than just their eyes. The multisensory display will also include scratch-and-sniff programs, LED wristbands and fruit-flavoured sweets. Fireworks explode over Sydney Harbour at midnight, ushering in the new year, in Sydney on January 1, 2014. – Reuters In Sydney, Australia, fireworks organisers expected to set off 7 metric tons (7.7 US tons) of pyrotechnics in 12 seconds in a display that sprayed from the sails of the Sydney Opera House and the city’s harbor bridge. “It filled up the whole sky,” said Mona Rucek, a 28-year-old tourist from Munich, Germany. Closer to the International Dateline, New Zealand concluded 2013 with its own fireworks that erupted from Auckland’s Sky Tower while cheering crowds danced in the streets of the South Pacific island nation’s largest city. People release balloons to celebrate the New Year during the annual countdown ceremony by the Prince Park Tower Tokyo on January 1, 2014. AFP In Tokyo, five priests at the Zojoji temple used ropes to swing a wooden pole against a large bell, sounding the first of 108 gongs to mark the new year. Simultaneously, “2014” lit up in white lights on the modern Tokyo Tower in the background. Juji Muto said he was curious to hear how the bell sounded. The 75-year-old retiree said he wishes every year for good health.  Visitors take pictures and videos during a light show as part of a New Year countdown celebration as part of a New Year countdown celebration on the Bund in Shanghai on January 1, 2014. Reuters China planned light shows at part of the Great Wall near Beijing and at the Bund waterfront in Shanghai. The city of Wuhan in central Hubei province called off its fireworks show and banned fireworks downtown to avoid worsening its smog. Pope Francis leaves after visiting the traditional Crib in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican on December 31, 2013. – Reuters Pope Francis used his year-end prayer service of thanksgiving to urge people to ask themselves: Did they spend 2013 to further their own interests or to help others? The pontiff asked people to reflect if they used the past year to make the places where they live more livable and welcoming. Citing Rome as an example, Francis said the city is full of tourists, but also refugees. Fireworks light up the sky as Filipinos welcome the New Year on Jan. 1, 2014 in Manila, Philippines. AP Six killed and more than 260 people had been injured by firecracker blasts and celebratory gunfire in the Philippines, a nation marking the end of a year of tragic disasters, including a Nov. 8 typhoon that left more than 6,100 dead and nearly 1,800 missing. “Many here are welcoming the new year after losing their mothers, fathers, siblings and children so you can imagine how it feels,” said village chief Maria Rosario Bactol of Anibong community in Tacloban, the city worst hit by Typhoon Haiyan. “I tell them to face the reality, to move on and stand up, but I know it will never be easy.” In New York City, outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who hobnobbed with celebrities during past Times Square celebrations, was sitting out this year’s festivities to spend time with family and friends. Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio will be sworn in at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday at his Brooklyn home. Sotomayor, a New York City native, will lead the final 60-second countdown and push the ceremonial button to drop the ball. Continue reading →

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