News National World enjoys a bright start to New Year 2019
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World enjoys a bright start to New Year 2019

Berlin's Brandenberg Gate was lit up for festivities overnight. Photo: Getty
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New Year celebrations around the globe have lit up the night skies as revellers flocked to International landmarks to usher in 2019.

Australia was among the first to kick off celebrations, with pyrotechnics and a festive atmosphere in the big cities.

Sydney yet again impressed an estimated one million people around its famous harbour who witnessed a captivating 12-minute display that featured new firework effects, a brighter bridge display and 500kg more explosives than the previous year.

Lime and peach were new additions to the pyrotechnic colour wheel while a new “wave effect” design gave gold palms coloured tips.

The famous ‘coathanger’ was adorned with an extra 1000 lighting effects and lit until 1am while the Opera House had more than 800 fireworks shot from its sails.

The $5.8 million New Year’s Eve show is worth an estimated $133 million to the local economy and is seen by an estimated one billion audience across the globe, organisers say.

Sydney’s 12-minute-long midnight fireworks display featured effects never seen before. Photo: Getty

Revellers had endured an early thunderstorm and late scattered showers before the stunning midnight show.

“The crowd are just popping on their glowsticks over their ponchos and ignoring it; lots of people dancing and kids up way past their bedtime,” Alexandria woman Sadhbh Warren told AAP.

“The fireworks were just awesome,” Amit Phaltankar told AAP after waiting eight hours at a harbourside reserve.

NSW police praised the behaviour of hundreds of thousands of revellers at New Year’s Eve celebrations across Sydney, with just 35 people arrested and charged with 43 offences. 21 of those charges were drug related.

One million people are estimated to have watched Sydney’s fireworks display, despite poor weather and public transport delays. Photo: Getty

Aside from the impressive pyrotechnic displays, there was another performance that had people talking.

Australian pianist Tim Minchin, known primarily for his comedic performances, received plenty of plaudits for his live performance which featured on the ABC’s coverage of New Year’s Eve festivities.

Minchin was joined part-way through his set by legendary singer-songwriter Ben Folds for a rendition of the Crowded House classic Better Be Home Soon. 

On a night where other artists, including Kiwi songstress Kimbra, were panned by viewers on social media for their lacklustre performances, Minchin and Folds received rave reviews.

After opening up with one of his own songs, Minchin covered the INXS hit Never Tear Us Apart, before combining with Folds, who described him as a “national treasure”.

Folds, who lived in Adelaide from 1999 to 2006, opened his solo set with the Buggles classic Video Killed the Radio Star before belting out Peter Allen’s I Still Call Australia Home with the help of the crowd.

Watch their performances here:

Across the nation

Midnight and family-friendly firework shows were held from Hobart to Queensland’s Cape York as Australians ushered in the new year.

Bursts of yellow, pink and green soared into the clear Melbourne sky as 14 tonnes of fireworks exploded over 10 minutes to the amazement of thousands of revellers.

For Nilu Sugatadasa and her husband Manoj, there was no chance they were missing the fireworks, having come for 13 years as a couple and now with their two young children.

“We come every year. It is amazing. The fireworks are amazing, the atmosphere, the people, it’s like a party – a celebration for us every year,” she said on the edge of the Yarra river.

“We are always prepared with games, food and come early. The tip is to come a little early, find a spot, and never move and don’t rush to come home.”

In Brisbane, tens of thousands packed into South Bank to mark the start of 2019 with the city’s biggest New Year’s Eve fireworks display and a soundtrack of the past year’s biggest music hits.

Adelaide ensured its status as a UNESCO City of Music was promoted with live music the highlight of the festivities ahead of two fireworks displays.

Elsewhere, waterfront fireworks displays started on the stroke of midnight in Hobart, Canberra and Darwin.

Australians also rang, texted and snapped in the new year with mobile networks’ usage surging as the clock struck 12.

Telstra handled about four  million SMSs on its network between midnight and 1am while Optus was prepared to transmit some 10 terabytes of Snapchat data in the same period.

Around the world

Parisians and tourists have gathered on the Champs-Elysees avenue to celebrate New Year’s Eve under heavy security.

Before midnight, a light show illustrating the theme of brotherhood is to take place on the Arc de Triomphe monument at the top of the Champs-Elysees.

President Emmanuel Macron is to give his traditional New Year address to briefly lay out his priorities for 2019.

Anti-government protesters from the “yellow vest” movement have issued calls on social media for “festive” demonstrations on the famous avenue.

Parisians gathered for celebrations at the Arc de Triomphe despite recent anti-government protests. Photo: Getty

In Berlin, people were queuing in the hope of attending Germany’s biggest New Year’s Eve party.

Bonnie Tyler, DJ Bobo, Alice Meron, Nico Santos and Eagle Eye Cherry are all set to perform, with a fireworks and laser display to take place at midnight.

Earlier, some 30,000 people in Japan welcomed in the New Year at Saitama Super Arena with Floyd Mayweather.

The American boxer soundly defeated his opponent, Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa, in the first round of what was billed as three rounds of entertainment.

And as Russians raised toasts to celebrate across the country’s 11 time zones, President Vladimir Putin stressed the need to rely on internal resources to improve living standards.

In a televised address just before midnight, Putin said, “we can achieve positive results only through our own efforts and well co-ordinated teamwork”.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Thais travelled to Takien Temple in a suburb of Bangkok to lie inside coffins for traditional funeral rituals.

Participants believe the ceremony – symbolising death and rebirth – helps rid them of bad luck and allows them to be born again for a fresh start in the new year.

They held flowers and incense in their hands as monks covered them with pink sheets and chanted prayers for the dead.

Earlier, the Pacific island nation of Kiribati was the first in the world to welcome the new year, greeting 2019 with muted celebrations after spending 2018 on the front line of the battle against climate change.

In Auckland, tens of thousands gathered around Sky Tower as fireworks exploded from the top of the 328m structure.

In New York, Snoop Dogg, Sting and Christina Aguilera will welcome 2019 in a packed Times Square along with revellers from around the world who come to see the traditional crystal ball drop.

Spectators began assembling early in the afternoon for the made-for-TV extravaganza.

The celebration will take place under tight security, with partygoers checked for weapons and then herded into pens, ringed by metal barricades, where they wait for the stroke of midnight.

-with AAP

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