, HONG KONG, Dec 31 – A huge display of fireworks lit up Hong Kong on Thursday, with brilliant bursts of colour over Victoria Harbour as the Chinese city rang in 2015 in spectacular style, launching the party for millions across Asia.
From New Delhi to Dubai, Johannesburg, New York and Rio, millions around the world will celebrate when the clock ticks past midnight, ringing in 2015 with fireworks displays, concerts and light shows.
In Hong Kong, hundreds of thousands of people crowded the city’s promenades to watch the eight-minute pyrotechnic display after a year which had seen busy thoroughfares paralysed by pro-democracy protests in the final months of 2014.
“I think a more peaceful year would be good for everybody,” said Louis Ho, 65. Students on one promenade handed out free hugs.
Earlier, Australia’s biggest city kicked off the global New Year celebrations with a massive fireworks display that lit up Sydney Harbour, defying terrorist fears days after a deadly siege.
Tonnes of fireworks exploded over the harbour, watched by a crowd estimated at more than one million, streaming across the sky in one of the world’s first major celebrations to ring in the New Year.
“We are celebrating that we are a multicultural, harmonious community but we will be thinking about what happened,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said in reference to the drama when an Iranian-born gunman with a history of violence and extremism took 17 hostages in a cafe. Two hostages and the gunman died.
In the aftermath of the siege, Prime Minister Tony Abbott warned that “the terror threat remains high and… at this level, an attack is likely”.
But the fireworks display went ahead without incident.