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World rings in the new year

Sydney kicks off celebrations, the first in a wave of dazzling fireworks to usher in 2014 from Hong Kong to Dubai.

Last updated: 31 Dec 2013 21:12
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Fireworks shot off Sydney's Opera House late on Tuesday for the first time in more than 10 years [AFP]

Sydney has kicked off New Year celebrations with a dazzling fireworks spectacular, the first in a wave of pyrotechnics to usher in 2014 from Hong Kong to Dubai.

Seven tonnes of explosives lit up Australia's biggest city late on Tuesday, with fireworks shooting off the Opera House for the first time in more than 10 years as part of the December 31 extravaganza, focused on the Harbour Bridge.

Tonga, located near the international dateline, was one of the first nations to greet 2014, holding a prayer festival that culminated with a bamboo "cannon" fired into the air.

Antarctica was also among the first places to celebrate 2014. Passengers and crew on a ship awaiting rescue after being stuck for a week in ice rang in the New Year with their specially composed anthem.

Cities across Asia also hailed in the New Year, with Hong Kong boasting its biggest-ever countdown show.

In Japan, shoppers were busy buying crabs, tuna sashimi and other delicacies to feast in the New Year, with noodle shops doing an especially brisk trade.

However, in areas ravaged by Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, celebrations were muted.

In Tacloban, which bore the brunt of the November 8 storm, officials were preparing a midnight fireworks display to try to raise spirits, despite nearly 8,000 dead or missing.

Seoul rang in 2014 with a ritual clanging of the city's 15th-century bronze bell 33 times, reflecting the ancient custom for marking a new year.

In Singapore, people flocked to the financial district for fireworks while thousands of white spheres launched to bob on Marina Bay, holding residents' wishes for 2014.

Jakarta has set up 12 city centre stages for performances to highlight the country's kaleidoscope of cultures.

However, 6,500 police will be out to ensure security amid warnings that conservative groups may target the celebrations, prompting travel warnings from countries including neighbouring Australia.

In Indonesia's Banda Aceh, Islamic police seized thousands of firecrackers and cardboard trumpets after the city administration banned New Year's Eve celebrations for the first time.

In Saudi Arabia, The Commission of the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, known unofficially as Mutawaa, issued a warning against New Year's celebrations. 

In Mumbai, revellers celebrated a court victory over the local police force, which pushed back closing time in bars and restaurants to 5am instead of 1:30am. 

Meanwhile in Dubai, a fireworks show lit up the the world's tallest tower, Burj Khalifa, as the clock hits midnight.

In Rio de Janeiro, authorities are predicting that 2.3 million people - a third of them tourists - will crowd Copacabana Beach for fireworks and pop music.

Major spectaculars will also light up Moscow's Red Square, Berlin's Brandenburg Gate and central London when Big Ben chimes midnight.

An expected one million revellers will gather in New York to mark the stroke of midnight and the traditional New Year's Eve ball-drop over Times Square.

Cape Town will have a free concert with fireworks and a 3D tribute to Nelson Mandela, who died on December 5.

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