Dazzling displays welcome 2015 around the World
A 5,300kg Waterford Crystal Ball helps New Yorkers celebrate under tighter security
A 5,300kg Waterford Crystal ball took centre stage in New York overnight.
Roughly a million revellers packed New York’s Times Square and rang in the new year with the city’s annual crystal ball drop under unusually tight security for the nation’s biggest New Year’s Eve celebrations. A 5,300kg Waterford Crystal ball took centre stage during celebrations.
While security is always tight in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, particularly since the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, extra precautions were put in place to prevent violence at the famed midtown Manhattan crossroads.
Hours before the giant crystal ball was to drop at midnight, bomb-sniffing dogs and counter-terrorism units joined uniformed officers posted on the streets around Times Square.
More officers were stationed on rooftops and at nearby subway stations to monitor an area comprising at least eight blocks of midtown Manhattan.
But all was peaceful just after midnight as fun-seekers roared in celebration against a backdrop of fireworks. Many of them were enclosed inside metal-gated corrals set up to control the throng that officials estimated could reach 1 million despite the frigid weather.
“It was my first time celebrating New Year’s Eve on Times Square. And even if it was cold, it was amazing,” said 16-year-old Matthew Gonzalez, who made the trip from Connecticut with two friends for the celebration.
In keeping with tradition, Mayor Bill de Blasio presided over the ball drop in Times Square, pressing a ceremonial button that sent the sphere on its descent.
Thousands gathered along the Thames to see a dazzling display centring on the London Eye, accompanied by a electronic soundtrack and followed by Auld Lang Syne. Tickets were introduced for the first time in London, with numbers kept to 100,000, down on the estimated 500,00 last year.
Tens of thousands of party-goers took to the streets of the city known as the home of Hogmanay to welcome in the new year. Up to 75,000 people from across the globe could be heard counting down the final moments of 2014 in Edinburgh before joining in a mass rendition of Auld Lang Syne.
Revellers took part in the huge outdoor celebrations before the clock struck midnight, with singer Lily Allen headlining the Concert in the Gardens joined by special guests Bjorn Again and Soul II Soul.
Pope Francis presided over a solemn prayer service in St Peter’s Basilica on New Year’s Eve, using his homily to stress life’s fleetingness. The spiritual leader said: “How we like to be surrounded by so many fireworks, seemingly beautiful, but which in reality last only a few minutes.”
As humans, he said, there is a “time to be born and a time to die” and New Year’s also is a time to reflect on our mortality, “the end of the path of life”.
Afterward, the 78-year-old pontiff, wearing a long white coat, a scarf and a thin skull cap, braved frigid air to admire the life-size Nativity scene in St Peter’s Square. For 20 minutes, he walked around shaking hands of people lined up behind barriers to greet him.
Earlier a giant clock on Auckland’s landmark Sky Tower counted down the minutes until 2015, with a huge fireworks display launching from the tower at midnight. The capital, Wellington, hosted a family-friendly celebration in a park featuring orchestral music and movie clips and culminating in a fireworks display.
Sydney takes pride in being one of the first major cities in the world to welcome each new year, and greeted 2015 in its trademark glittery fashion, with a tropical-style fireworks display featuring shimmering gold and silver palm tree pyrotechnic effects.
More than 1.5 million people crowded along the shores of the city’s famed harbour to watch the vivid eruption of light over the Harbour Bridge, Opera House and other points along the water.