From spectacular fireworks and dazzling light shows to dancing in the streets and all-around revelry, millions around the world assembled in streets, parks and public squares to cheer the advent of yet another year.
Here’s a recap of New Year’s Eve celebrations in five world cities that stood out, although there are tens of others that can easily find a place in this list of five.
Sydney, Australia – Great Fireworks, Wrong Year
Sydney, one of the first cities to usher in 2019, awed spectators around the world with a spectacular twelve-minute pyrotechnics display above its most famous landmark – the Sydney Harbour.
However, the organizers goofed up the $4miilion extravaganza, big time, by getting the year all wrong – a glaring typo that social media users were quick to pounce on.
Can you spot the mistake? Pic: @michvllv
Norbert Schoffa tweeted: “Wow, I will move to Australia ! So I will be one year younger !”
Izzy Erskine: “Oh no it’s 2018 again.”
Neil Clark: “Happy New Year 2018… Wait, have I got that wrong?”
Angus Randall: “Oops.”
Alex Bruce-Smith: “I take no pleasure in other people’s typos considering I make one every second word, but also…. lol.”
Sydney New Year’s Eve executive producer Anna McInerney put up a brave front by trying to see the funny side of the four-million-dollar gaffe.
“We just laughed about it, you know these things happen as we said, it takes 15 months to organise an event of this size and scale,” McInerney told reporters.
“Obviously, we weren’t pleased, but look you move on and you just get back to doing the show,” she said.
Auckland, New Zealand
Like Sydney, Auckland was among the first world cities to celebrate the start of 2019 as fireworks erupted into the night sky from the top of the 328-meter-tall Sky Tower.
Tens of thousands of revelers had gathered around the iconic structure for the spectacular show, which was very much worth their while.
— CNN International (@cnni) December 31, 2018
While the fireworks enthralled the crowd for five minutes, the light show continued until 1 a.m.
Apart from one minor firework-related call to the Northern Fire and Emergency Service, the event was, thankfully, incident-free, as was confirmed by a communications spokeswoman for the service who said the callout was “nothing of significance.”
Dubai welcomed 2019 with a sensational light and laser show followed by a dazzling fireworks display at the iconic Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.
An estimated one million revelers watched the downtown extravaganza, which began with a breathtaking light and laser show lasting ten minutes, followed by an explosion of colorful pyrotechnics just as the countdown to 2019 ended.
Security arrangements were world class, as is expected from a city known for pursuing perfection, with some 4,000 police officers and 2,000 security guards manning the event, making sure everything was orderly.
“We were packed shoulder to shoulder but it was worth it,” one ecstatic reveler told The National.
“It was just such an incredible display and it seemed to last forever,” he said, adding, “It’s already made my year.”
An estimated hundred thousand ticketholders assembled on the banks of the Thames on New Year’s Eve, counting down the New Year in one resonating voice.
Then the sky above the waters of the iconic river lit up in an eruption of lights and colors to the rhythm of Big Ben’s big bongs, with the London Eye as the centerpiece of the amazing display.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan came under a lot of flak from Brexiters for politicalizing the event with a pro-European Union display that saw the London Eye lit up in the blue and yellow of the EU flag.
Here’s what the Mayor said before the event.
“We, in my opinion, are one of the greatest cities in the world; one of the reasons we are one of the greatest cities in the world is because of the contribution made by Europeans
“I think diversity is a strength and I think what tonight is about is celebrating that diversity.
“I hope that members of parliament, members of the government will see the fireworks tonight, will listen to the soundtrack and will reflect on what sort of country they want to live in post-March.”
The retribution on social media was swift and scathing.
Writer-reporter Anne Crusader called it a “disgraceful fireworks display from Sadiq Khan,” reminding him that “it was the UK not EU.”
Disgraceful firework display from @SadiqKhan …. it was the UK not EU. Maybe concentrate on knife crime as opposed to turning over the democratic will of the people and promoting the dictatorship of Europe. You should be sacked! #NewYears2019 #HappyNewYearsEve
— Ann Crusader (@anncrusader) January 1, 2019
“Sadiq Khan’s transformation of the New Year fireworks display into a piece of pro-EU propaganda was a crass stunt. Imagine how out-of-touch a politician must be to use a public event to mock the public. It was undiluted elitism”, says Brendan O’Neill.https://t.co/nkN3bSuDX6
— spiked (@spikedonline) January 1, 2019
While the UK is locked in critical negotiations with Brussels, Sadiq Khan chooses to display the other side’s flag on the London Eye. Would he have shown an Argentinian flag during the Falklands War? https://t.co/d2O0bHbBPn
— Roger Helmer (@RogerHelmerMEP) January 1, 2019
New York, USA
While people braved bone-chilling, teeth-chattering cold to ring in 2018, this time around, it was all about standing in a steady downpour as they watched the traditional ball drop at the stroke of midnight, ringing in 2019.
“I can deal with it,” 61-year-old Judy Masson told Reuters as she stood in the pouring rain with an hours-long wait ahead of her, the umbrella ban not making things easy for her.
“You make the best of a bad thing,” said the sexagenarian.
Security was expected to be tight, and tight it was, as NYPD officers in uniform, as well as plain clothes, kept a strict vigil on the ground and on rooftops.
As many as 1,200 security cameras were deployed to help avoid any untoward incident, not to mention the extensive use of radiation detectors throughout the event.
Crowd monitoring with the help of aerial drones was also part of the NYPD agenda and would have been a first in the history of New Year’s Day celebrations at Times Square if only the incessant rain had not played spoilsport.
“We haven’t done that before, but that’s gonna give us a visual aid and flexibility,” John Miller, NYPD’s deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism had said a day before the event.
“This is going to be one of the most well-policed, best-protected events in one of the safest venues in the entire world,” he said.
As for the revelers, the rain was just a minor irritant that they could in no way allow to come between them and the once-in-a-year experience.
“This is the absolute place to be for New Year’s Eve,” Brandon Cline from Atlanta told New York CBS Global. ”There’s no experience like this,” he said.
“I can’t wait,” said Jill Cline. “What we’ve seen so far is just really spectacular,” she told the news network.
“We got in a pen, it was crazy,” said Megan Guerra of Tampa, Florida.
“We stood out until midnight… 15 hours. No bathrooms, no eating, but it was the time of our lives. It’s magic,” she was quoted as saying.