Sydney extravaganza to kick off global 2018 parties
Sydney: Australia's largest city Sydney will welcome 2018 with a rainbow-themed fireworks spectacular marking new same-sex marriage rights on Sunday, with heavy security for festivities that kick off a wave of celebrations around the world.
The first major New Year's bash will see more than 1.5 million spectators pack the city's foreshore as tonnes of pyrotechnics light up the night sky.
The technicolour display will include a rainbow waterfall of fireworks cascading off the Sydney Harbour Bridge to mark Australia's legalisation of same-sex marriage following a nationwide postal vote in support of change.
"This is a fabulous way to see out 2017 –the year that four out of five Sydneysiders said a resounding 'Yes' to marriage equality," Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.
Hollywood heartthrob Hugh Jackman will add star power with a 20-second gold-and-silver pyrotechnics set, fulfilling a life-long dream to design a firework for his hometown.
The chimes of midnight then move across the world to Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and finally the Americas.
Dazzling light shows will bid farewell to 2017.
–Hong Kong: "Shooting stars" to be fired off from the rooftops of buildings in a 10-minute musical firework display
–Singapore: More landmarks are included in the countdown party, with a symphony of light and sound illuminating the waterfront skyline
–Tokyo: People traditionally spend the eve with their families at home, while many young people head downtown for countdown events
–Dubai: The city is replacing its main midnight fireworks with a laser show on the world's tallest tower, accompanied by music
–Moscow: Major boulevards and squares will be decked out to welcome the new year, with fireworks to light up 36 key sites
– Rio: Millions will gather on Copacabana beach to watch fireworks, with many wearing white, the traditional dress to usher in the new year. Stricter security measures will be a key focus amid fears that the huge crowds in public places could be targets for vehicle and other terror attacks.
In Australia, the beefed-up police presence will include some officers carrying semi-automatic rifles in Sydney and bollards used as barriers against vehicles.
The heightened measures come just a week after more than a dozen people were hurt when a man ploughed a car into a crowd of pedestrians in Melbourne.