The year 2013 arrived in style around the world, with millions flocking to Sydney Harbour, Berlin’s party mile and the London Eye for fireworks, while others spent calmer evenings, wearing kimonos or eating fine dinners.
Yet to come is the traditional drop of the globe on Times Square in New York at 0500 GMT, a celebration marred by the death in 2012 of Dick Clark, the rock music mentor who for years hosted the celebrations for a US television channel despite a severe stroke-related handicap.
In Berlin, tens of thousands of partiers linked arms in the packed streets in their attempt to break a world record with a mass Gangnam Style dance spectacle, inspired by South Korean rapper Psy. Gangnam dancers bobbed to the rhythm of the countdown to New Year.
An estimated 1 million people flooded Berlin’s famous “party mile,” where the Pet Shop Boys performed and an 11-minute fireworks sparkled into the air.
The streets leading to the Brandenburg Gate were packed and impossible to navigate even in the hours before the celebrations. At midnight, 6,000 sky-rockets were let off in an explosion of noise and color. The city echoed with fireworks throughout the day.
The year opened in Sydney, where more than 1 million revelers packed Sydney Harbor for the famous firework show that sets New Year’s Eve celebrations rolling westwards around the globe.
Visitors to Australia’s biggest city were treated to 100,000 bangs from the 7 tons of fireworks loaded on the bridge and on barges in the harbor.
Popstar Kylie Minogue led the countdown for a crowd that organizers said would top those expected to ring in the New Year in London and Berlin.
In the Philippines, hospitals were on red alert as authorities made last-minute appeals to shun the usual practice of setting off firecrackers and firing guns into the air.
Filipinos traditionally make noise, including firecrackers, on New Year’s Eve in the belief that they drive away the bad luck of the past year and attract good luck in the coming year. Some revelers even discharge guns into the air.
In Japan, where many turned to religion as the country slipped into recession in 2012, people began flocking to shrines to pray for prosperity and good health.
About 100 million people are expected to visit shrines over the next three days. The Shinto shrine of Meiji in central Tokyo usually hosts the largest crowd of some 3 million people. The shrine is dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his consort Empress Shoken.
A security clamp-down in Paris dampened the celebrations, already muted by the city’s ban on personal fireworks. This year, there were not even large city fireworks at the Eiffel Tower. But the city of light’s famous landmarks – the Champs-Elysees, the Arc de Triomphe and the banks of the Seine – were crowded with Parisians.
With years past in mind, France deployed 53,000 police officials in Paris, Marseille and Strasbourg to prevent the traditional vandalism of burning cars that has marked celebrations in years past.
In New Delhi, celebrations were also muted by mourning over the-23 year-old woman who was brutally gang-raped and killed in the city.
Some clubs cancelled parties, including the 99-year-old Delhi Gymkhana Club that usually features a live performance by a Bollywood celebrity, chief executive OP Malhotra said.
The state-owned Ashok Hotel, a Delhi landmark, also cancelled its New Year’s party and several private hotels reported low bookings.
“Bookings have dropped for year-end parties as people are not in a year-end partying mood after this incident,” the Economic Times quoted Dinesh Khanna, executive director of Eastern International Hotels, as saying.