New Zealand rings in 2016 as New Year’s Eve celebrations begin

Published: Thursday 31st December 2015 by The News Editor

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New Zealand counted down the seconds to midnight with a giant digital clock on Auckland’s Sky Tower as it become the first nation with a sizeable population to welcome in 2016.

Horns blared and crowds cheered as the tower was then lit up with fireworks, with colours shifting from green to red to white.

In Australia, officials struggling to contain the threat from home-grown extremists encouraged revellers to enjoy the evening and assured that thousands of extra police would be out patrolling the major cities.

“Don’t change your way of life,” Melbourne’s lord mayor Robert Doyle recently urged residents of the nation’s second-largest city.

People are expected to gather by the hundreds of thousands despite blistering temperatures to watch nearly 11 tons of fireworks light up the sky.

“Don’t let events from around the world challenge the way that we live,” he added.

Melbourne’s rival, Sydney, takes seriously its position as one of the first major cities in the world to ring in each new year.

More than a million people are expected to gather along the famed harbour to watch a glittery display featuring a multi-coloured firework “waterfall” cascading off the Harbour Bridge and pyrotechnic effects in the shapes of butterflies, octopuses and flowers.

New Year’s Eve is Japan’s biggest holiday, and millions crammed into trains to flee the cities for their hometowns to slurp down bowls of noodles, symbolising longevity, while watching the annual Red and White NHK song competition.

As midnight approaches, families bundle up for visits to neighbourhood temples, where the ritual ringing of huge bronze bells reverberates through the chill.

Tokyo is on special alert for security issues this year, with posters in underground stations and other public spaces warning people to keep their eyes open for suspicious packages or activities.

Security is a big concern in many cities around the world this New Year’s Eve.

In the Thai capital Bangkok, police-flanked partygoers will ring in the new year at the site of a deadly bombing that took place just months ago.

In Paris, residents recovering from their city’s own deadly attacks will enjoy scaled-back celebrations.

And in Belgium’s capital, authorities anxious after thwarting what they say was a holiday terror plot have cancelled festivities altogether.

As the final hours of 2015 draw to a close, many are bidding a weary and wary adieu to a year marred by attacks that left nations reeling and nerves rattled.

Still, most places are forging ahead with their celebrations as many refuse to let jitters ruin the joy of the holiday.

“We still have this fear but we need to continue to live,” said Parisian Myriam Oukik. “We will celebrate.”

Published: Thursday 31st December 2015 by The News Editor

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