Sydney fireworks kick off New Year

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Fireworks cascade over the Harbour Bridge in Sydney

Enthusiastic Australians have camped out at parks alongside the Sydney Harbour Bridge to win the best view of Friday’s spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks kicking off celebrations around the world.

At least 1.5 million people were expected to line the harbour in Sydney, the first major city where the new year arrives.

Celebrations began with aerial displays by vintage aircraft and a parade of boats around the harbour, while spectators set up fold-out chairs, picnic blankets and inflatable beds.

“We know how to party on New Year back home, but Sydney is a bigger and better party than anywhere else,” said Marcio Motta, a 26-year-old from Sao Paolo, Brazil, who is studying English in Australia.

At the Opera Bar Beach House, hundreds of people paid up to $500 for the view and a party with a beach theme.

“This has got to be the best place to be in the world tonight,” said guest Marc Wilson, 41.

In Christchurch, New Zealand, two minor earthquakes on Friday did not shake plans for all-night celebrations.

“There is more reason than ever for people to get together and celebrate the beginning of a New Year,” Christchurch’s acting mayor Ngaire Button said, urging residents to celebrate in the central Cathedral Square, where workers were removing loose masonry after the quakes, which caused little damage.

In New York City, nearly a million revellers were expected to cram into the streets around Times Square to watch the traditional midnight ball drop.

In London, thousands will witness a musical and firework display at the 135-meter high London Eye, located on the southern banks of the Thames.

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