How the world welcomed 2017
AUSTRALIANS have welcomed in the New Year as the world bids a weary adieu to a tough 2016 that saw political surprises, prolonged conflicts and deaths of legendary celebrities.
This is how Australia and the rest of the world ushered in 2017.
Sydney Harbour has been set ablaze with light, colour and music as another dazzling fireworks display thrilled capacity crowds from around the world and marked the arrival of 2017.
After a year that many were happy to leave behind, an estimated 1.5 million people packed the foreshore on Saturday for a double bill of fireworks climaxing with the world famous midnight pyrotechnics extravaganza.
The two displays comprised an estimated seven tonnes of fireworks, including 12,000 shells, 25,000 shooting comets and 100,000 individual pyrotechnic effects.
Spectators gasped and cheered throughout the $7 million 9pm and midnight shows and embraced each other with wishes of "Happy New Year!"
A collective "whoo" could be heard with each new burst of colour and light. Tributes to music legends Prince and David Bowie were a highlight of the night's entertainment, with purple rain showering the harbour and illuminating the bridge and a constellation of space-inspired pyrotechnics.
The loudest applause came at the end when a golden waterfall cascaded from the bridge to the water below.
Chilean student Felipe Ortega told AAP he couldn't believe he was in Sydney to see a show he usually watched on TV back home.
His friend, Columbian Jenny Ruiz, said coming to the Opera House to celebrate the new year was mandatory while in Australia.
"It's a must-see. It's an icon," she said.
The collective euphoria was reflected by the police, who said there had been a low number of arrests.
Assistant Commissioner Nick Fuller told reporters that, as of 1.30am on Sunday, the number of arrests was 15, half what it was last year, an "outstanding result".
"From our perspective we really feel the community heeded our warnings," he said.
Sadly, a man died after being hit in the head by a firework at Budgewoi on the NSW Central Coast.
Emergency service crews were called to Budgewoi Beach just after 3am on Sunday to find the 52-year-old man had suffered a serious head injury. Despite the efforts of friends and emergency services the man could not be revived.
Police have launched an investigation and say initial inquiries suggest the man may have been lighting a firework at the time.
MELBOURNE LIGHTS UP
In Melbourne the skies lit up in the city's greatest ever fireworks display. The city skyline was crowned with a golden sparkle as explosives fired from an unprecedented 22 rooftops.
Almost half a million revellers crammed into the CBD to view the glittering $500,000 spectacular.
Among them was Emma Eastick, of Pakenham, who ventured into the CBD for New Year's Eve for the first time, with her parents visiting from the UK, her husband and two children.
"It's just to see the big fantastic fireworks live, rather than on the TV," she said.
A man also died following a fireworks incident at Hollands Landing east of Melbourne on New Year's Eve. Police say the 46-year-old man died next to the beach near Rae Street about 9.35pm.
An arson chemist will attend the scene to further investigate the incident.
Extra police were on the beat in the CBD and across the Victoria, with operations bolstered by a new 24/7 monitoring centre feeding in live CCTV footage and intelligence.
QUEENSLANDERS PARTY ON
Around 200,000 people packed into South Bank in Brisbane to watch the fireworks at 8.30pm, enjoying what Fireworks designer Max Brunner describe as "probably the best weather we've had in 10 years for New Year's Eve".
ADELAIDE'S BIG BLAST
An estimated 80,000 revellers poured into the city for New Year's Eve celebrations, about 30,000 making the most of a free concert and two fireworks displays at Elder Park - the first at the family-friendly time of 9pm.
Almost 50,000 cricket fans attended the sold-out Big Bash League Twenty20 double-header at Adelaide Oval across the Torrens.
STARS HEAD TO DARWIN
Aussie Music Icons Diesel and Kate Ceberano sparked up the crowd at Darwin's waterfront, and Canberrans enjoed a family friendly concert at Civic Square and 9pm fireworks with a dance party for the grown-ups after midnight.
WA, TASSIE COME TO PARTY
West Australians were the last to ring in the new year in Australia after some 20,000 have kicked off festivities at the annual Perth Cup at Ascot Racecourse.
Earlier, Tasmanians headed to the Hobart waterfront and Falls Festival at Marion Bay, with large crowds at both venues making sure 2016 ended on a high note.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
In Dubai, hundreds of thousands of people watched as fireworks shoot from the sides of the world's tallest building, the 828-metre Burj Khalifa.
Dubai 2017 happy new year pic.twitter.com/97hCnKqyxw— 🐾 (@Amira_Talal_A) December 31, 2016
PACIFIC ISLANDS WELCOME 2017
Islands in Polynesia and the Central Pacific have ushered in the new year as the the rest of the world counts down to the start of 2017.
Cities in the island nations of Samoa, Tonga and Kiribati were the first to welcome the new year.
NEW ZEALAND KICKS OFF NEW YEAR
The Sky Tower lit up as Kiwis welcomed in the new year with a laser light show over Auckland Sky Tower at midnight. The pyrotechnic display includes 500kgs of fireworks, 1 tonne of equipment and 10 kilometres of wire were used in the display set up.
BRITISH POLICE IN FORCE
Some 3000 police are on duty in the United Kingdom capital ahead of New Year's Eve celebrations in light of the recent terror attacks in Nice and Berlin, security forces said.
There would be a large police presence in the centre of London, particularly at Trafalgar Square and near Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster, where thousands of people gather annually to watch the New Year's fireworks along the River Thames.
London's Metropolitan Police said they will be working alongside the British Transport Police in order to ensure the safety of the public. Police were expected to cut off traffic on Saturday afternoon in central London, which would affect the Lambeth, Westminster, Waterloo and Blackfriars bridges.
NEW YORK CITY READY FOR BALL DROP
New York City is preparing for a sea of humanity to converge on Times Square for the New Year's Eve ball, a century-old tradition that will unfold this year under an unprecedented blanket of security.
As many as 2 million people, surrounded by a ring of 40-tonne garbage trucks and some 7000 police, are expected to gather to watch a glittering sphere complete its midnight drop, marking the beginning of 2017.
Even though city and federal officials say they are not aware of any credible threats, the spectre of two deadly truck attacks in Europe looms over the Times Square rite of winter, which has attracted merrymakers since the early 20th century.
In devising the security plan, New York police officials say they heeded lessons learned from recent holiday attacks in Germany and France, where suspected militants intentionally ploughed vehicles into crowds of pedestrians, killing dozens.
Throngs of people, many from overseas, arrived hours early to get a prime view of festivities, which will include live musical performances by Mariah Carey, Thomas Rhett and Gloria Estefan.
Although skies were cloudy no rain is forecast.
At 11.59pm on Saturday the Waterford Crystal ball begins sliding down a pole that sits atop a building at the point where Broadway crosses Seventh Avenue. When it completes its descent at midnight, a giant "2017" sign will illuminate and a shower of fireworks with light up the sky.
FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE
President Vladimir Putin invoked a bit of seasonal enchantment in his New Year's Eve remarks to the nation.
"Each of us may become something of a magician on the night of the New Year," Putin said in a short televised address broadcast in the closing minutes of 2016 in each of Russia's 11 time zones.
"To do this we simply need to treat our parents with love and gratitude, take care of our children and families, respect our colleagues at work, nurture our friendships, defend truth and justice, be merciful and help those who are in need of support. This is the whole secret," he said.
New Year's Eve is Russia's major gift-giving holiday, and big Russian cities were awash in festive lights and decorations. The Moscow subway offered a special holiday train, festooned with lights and artificial greenery. "I wish for the next year to better than this," said rider Alexander Pisaryev. "We are waiting for good, for peace and order," said another, Valentina Daineka.
A Christmas tree, a mosque and skyscrapers illuminated for New Year celebration are seen in downtown Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, Russia. Picture: AP
A Christmas tree, a mosque and skyscrapers illuminated for New Year celebration are seen in downtown Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, Russia. Picture: APSource:AP
JAPAN MARKS ITS BIGGEST HOLIDAY
Temple bells echoed at midnight as families gather around noodles and revelers flock to shrines for the biggest holiday in Japan. They also let balloons fly into the air.
"I feel this sense of duality," said Kami Miyamoto, 21, an economics student at Meiji University in Tokyo, who traveled home in Hakusan, Ishikawa prefecture, for the holiday.
"The world is heading toward conservative insular policies," she said of the U.S. election, Brexit and what she believes lies ahead for elections in Europe in 2017.
"We learned about how valuable it is to get correct information."
One of the most memorable experiences for Miyamoto in 2016 was a three-week study program in South Korea. She was surprised and moved by the friendship she formed with South Korean students, and she has decided to focus her studies on relations with South Korea.
"Studying about the U.S. and Europe seems to be about looking at the past, but East Asian studies are focusing on the future," she said.
Miyamoto's mother is preparing soba noodles, a standard New Year's Eve dish in Japan, except in their home it will be filled with green onions and shrimp. As the new year rolls in, the entire family, including her younger brother and sister, will drive to a nearby shrine, which, like temples all over Japan, will be filled with those praying for good fortune in the Year of the Rooster, according to the Chinese zodiac.
CHINA HAS A QUIET ONE
Residents in Beijing and Shanghai, China's two largest cities, were passing New Year's Eve quietly in a relative state of security lockdown, according to Chinese media reports citing police.
The Bund waterfront in Shanghai had no celebrations, authorities announced this week, while the sale, use and transportation of fireworks in central Shanghai will be prohibited altogether. Large buildings that often display light shows also stayed dark. More than 30 people died two years ago in a deadly stampede on Shanghai's waterfront, where 300,000 people had gathered to watch a planned light show.
Beijing police also said countdowns, light shows, lotteries and other organized activities will not be held in popular shopping districts such as Sanlitun and Guomao. Beijing police advised citizens to avoid crowded areas, closely watch elderly relatives and children, and be aware of exit routes in venues.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said in his annual New Year's Eve address that his government will continue to focus on alleviating poverty at home and resolutely defending China's territorial rights.
SOUTH KOREA TAKES A STAND
More than half a million South Koreans marked New Year's Eve with a massive protest Saturday calling for the immediate arrest and ouster of impeached President Park Geun-Hye.
Candle-carrying and banner-waving protestors marched towards key buildings in Seoul including the presidential Blue House and the prime minister's office.
Police figures were unavailable but organisers estimated crowd numbers to be more than 600,000.
"Park Geun-Hye step down. Go to prison now," they chanted.
Parliament voted on December 9 to impeach Park over a corruption scandal in which she allegedly colluded with her friend, Choi Soon-Sil, to wrest donations from large conglomerates to two dubious foundations.
The case is now being considered by the Constitutional Court, which has up to 180 days to rule on the impeachment.
"I came here to help usher in a new year that has no Park Geun-Hye", Kang Jae-Chun, who was at the protest with his two children, told AFP.
Demonstrators took part in a midnight ceremony in which a large bronze bell in the city centre is rung to herald in the new year.
It was the tenth protest calling for Park's immediate departure from office. But Park, who has been suspended from her duties since the impeachment vote, has remained defiant, declaring she will wait until the Constitutional Court arrives at a decision.
TURKEY ON ALERT
In Turkey security was high for New Year's Eve as the president Recep Tayyip Erdogan used his new year's address to claim that the country was fighting a "new war of independence."
"National unity, territorial integrity, institutions, the economy, foreign policy, in short all of the elements that sustain us as a state are under fierce attack," Mr Erdogan said on Saturday.
"Terrorist organisations are only the visible faces and tools in this war. We are essentially fighting the powers behind these organisations," he said, without specifying what those powers where.
Mr Erdogan also dubbed the attempted coup d'etat in July as "the most abominable terrorist attack" in the history of the republic. More than 40,000 people have been arrested in the post-coup crackdown and tens of thousands of civil servants have also lost their jobs as a result.
GERMANY STAYS SOMBRE
In Berlin the mood was more somber than celebratory.
"I don't like the way politics is going," said Daniel Brandt. "Fears are being fanned and people are so angry with each other."
The tone of public debate in Germany has become shriller over the past two years with the influx of hundreds of thousands of migrants.
Some Germans blame Chancellor Angela Merkel for attacks such as the recent rampage in Berlin, where a failed asylum-seeker from Tunisia rammed a truck into a crowded Christmas market, killing 12 people and injuring dozens more.
Merkel told Germans in her New Year message that their country was stronger than terrorism and the government will do everything to ensure "security in freedom."
Two Israeli tourists, on a visit to the German capital, seemed at a loss when asked about their wishes for 2017.
"Peace on Earth. Just happiness, really," said Nathan and Libat, declining to give their last names.
Berlin hosts Germany's biggest open-air New Year's Eve celebration near the city's iconic Brandenburg Gate. Security, as in previous years, was tight Saturday, with police checking the bags of those entering the party zone.
Authorities have also increased police presence at hotspots in other major cities, including Cologne, where a string of robberies and sexual assaults last year that were blamed largely on migrants from North Africa prompted nationwide outrage.
LAS VEGAS READY TO ROCK
More than 300,000 visitors are expected to descend on Las Vegas for an extravagant New Year's Eve celebration.
Nightclubs are pulling out all the stops with performances from DJ Calvin Harris, rappers T-Pain and Kendrick Lamar and artists Drake and Bruno Mars. The city's celebrity chefs have crafted elaborate prix fixe menus complete with caviar and champagne toasts.
An eight-minute fireworks show will kick off at the stroke of midnight, with rockets launching from the tops of half a dozen casinos.
Federal officials have ranked the celebration just below the Super Bowl and on par with the festivities in Times Square. FBI and Secret Service agents will work alongside local police departments that are putting all hands on deck for the big night.
INDIA MARKS THE DAY
For most people in India, New Year's Eve is a time for family. In New Delhi and many other cities, newspapers are full of big advertisements for lavish parties at upscale hotels and restaurants. The big draws at the hotel parties are song and dance performances from Bollywood and television stars.
Police with breath analysers check for drunk driving, and security is tightened in malls and restaurants.
The western city of Mumbai will host big street parties with thousands of people at the iconic Gateway of India, a colonial-era structure on the waterfront overlooking the Arabian Sea. There'll be music and dancing and occasional fireworks.