Fireworks explode over the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge during New Years Eve celebrations in Sydney, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015. AP
New Year\’s celebrations kicked off in New Zealand and Australia as revelers from around the world gathered Wednesday to say goodbye to 2014 and welcome 2015.
New Zealand led the way, with Sydney Harbour providing a spectacular backdrop to Australia\’s display.
There was shock in Asia as a crush in Shanghai, China saw 35 people die marking the start of 2015.
The Gulf Arab emirate of Dubai aimed to break the world record for the largest LED-illuminated facade.
It launched its spectacular display centred on the world\’s tallest building.
Thousands of people celebrated in New York\’s Times Square for the city\’s annual New Year\’s Eve festivities, but this year security was tight as a protest took place nearby against police use of force and the state of race relations in the country.
Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco were among the last major cities to see in the new year.
Europe\’s celebrations began in Moscow with fireworks over St Basil\’s Cathedral and the Kremlin.
In Berlin a huge open air concert was held in front of the Brandenburg Gate, while in Paris the Champs-Elysees was closed to traffic so that pedestrians could witness a visual spectacle projected onto the Arc de Triomphe 15 minutes before the start of the new year.
The arrival of 2015 was also significant for Lithuania as it became the 19th country to join the euro currency.
In Spain, millions of revellers converged around Madrid\’s Puerta del Sol, while in Barcelona huge fireworks displays or street parties were held. Similar events took place in the UK cities of London and Edinburgh.
Up to 1.5m people lined the shores of Sydney harbour to see the city\’s famous firework display.
The city\’s Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, said the recent hostage crisis in the city had focussed the minds of Sydney residents.
Celebration plans were muted in Indonesia in the wake of the recent AirAsia Flight QZ8501 crash.
But across the rest of Asia there were lavish parties, with a sound and light show at Beijing\’s Olympic stadium and an eight-minute firework display in Hong Kong.
"I think a more peaceful year would be good for everyone," Louis Ho, 65, told AFP news agency, as the territory bade farewell to a year that saw widespread street protests.
Moscow\’s display led the way in Europe, with President Vladimir Putin describing the 2014 annexation of Crimea as "a historic landmark" for Russia.
Putin also sent messages to several world leaders, telling US President Barack Obama that the US and Russia had a shared interest in "maintaining peace and international stability".
In Brazil, more than one million people gathered on Rio de Janeiro\’s Copacabana beach, while the Pacific Islands just to the west of the international date line were the first places to herald the new year.
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