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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Spectacular New Years 2014 Fireworks around the World

For most the New Years Eve is the simplest of celebration: friends, champagne and some fireworks. But for much of the rest of the world, the final minutes of 2013 and the first few of 2014 are an occasion to mark with something a little more exotic. From smashed plates to swiftly eaten grapes, to setting Guinness World records, here is how people around the world celebrate the passing year.

New Year's Day is probably the world's most celebrated public holiday, often observed with fireworks at the stroke of midnight as the new year starts in each time zone. January 1 represents the fresh start of a new year after a period of remembrance of the passing year.

Kiribati and Samoa in the Pacific were first to see in the New Year in a wave of celebrations set to finish on the United States' remote Howland and Baker Islands.

New Zealand 

New Zealand is one of the first big countries in the world to hit 2014 - but this year without one of their biggest celebrations. Wellington City Council is scrapping its traditional New Year's Eve party this year in favour of an afternoon concert on New Year's Day. Instead of a countdown to midnight in the Civic Square, the council has organised a concert the following day at Waitangi Park.

While the big cities naturally staged fireworks displays, out in the woods people resorted to a more modest form of New Year’s Eve noisemaking – namely, standing on their front porches banging their pots and pans together. To some cultures making a racket at midnight is a way to drive off evil spirits. For most Kiwis, however, it is simply an end in itself.


About 1.5 million people gathered at Sydney Harbour to watch the country's biggest fireworks show take off from the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. It was the first time in more than a decade that the Opera House played a major role in the extravaganza, with fireworks exploding from four Opera House's sails. 

Artist Reg Mombassa, best known for his work for the surfwear brand Mambo, was the creative ambassador for this year's display. Fireworks lit up the harbour as this year's bridge motif - a blinking eye - was revealed. A waterfall of golden sparks showered down from the bridge towards the end of the show.


In Japan, New Year’s Eve – or “Ōmisoka” – is time to welcome the Shinto god of the new year, Toshigami. The kadomatsu is a traditional decoration for the new year holiday, placed in pairs in front of homes to welcome ancestral spirits or kami of the harvest. They are typically made of pine, bamboo, and sometimes ume tree sprigs which represent longevity, prosperity and steadfastness, respectively. At midnight on December 31, Buddhist temples all over Japan ring their bells a total of 108 times to symbolize the 108 human sins in Buddhist belief, and to get rid of the 108 worldly desires. A major attraction is The Watched Night bell, in Tokyo. Japanese believe that the ringing of bells can rid their sins during the previous year.

Celebrating the new year in Japan also means paying special attention to the first time something is done in the new year - "first temple", "first sunrise", "first laughter" (starting the New Year with a smile is considered a good sign), "first dream", and among many other "first" is the hatsu-uri (the first shopping sale of the new year). 

Part of the New Year celebrations are games, entertainment and gifts. Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, with accompanying chorus, is traditionally performed throughout Japan during the New Years season. The Ninth was introduced to Japan by German prisoners-of-war held in Japan during World War I and it was first played in 1952. 

Whereas most people think of working on New Year’s Day as mere bad form, the Japanese consider it bad luck.


In the Philippines, New Year's is considered part of the Christmas holiday. Noise is made on New Year's Eve with firecrackers and horns (amongst other methods) to dispel evil spirits and to prevent them from bringing bad luck to the coming new year. Tables are laden with food for the Media Noche (midnight meal), and a basket of twelve, different round fruits is displayed to symbolise prosperity in each of the coming twelve months. Public New Year's parties are organised by city governments, and are very well-attended.


New Year’s Eve took on a particular significance for Russians under Communist rule during the 20th century, when religious holidays, including Christmas, were banned. The New Year proved to be a suitable non-religious substitute for the forbidden seasonal celebration – and its popularity has continued beyond the fall of the Soviet Union.

In Moscow, the president of Russia counts down the final seconds of the "old year". The Kremlin's landmark Spassky Clock Tower chimes in the new year and then the anthem starts. It is customary to make a wish while the Clock chimes. One midnight tradition in Russia is to write your new year’s wish on a scrap of paper, set it alight and drop the smouldering remains into your champagne glass – and then drink the lot before 12.01am.

The Old New Year is celebrated on January 13 (equivalent to January 1 in the "old style" Julian calendar). Although not an official holiday, it marks the end of the holiday season and is usually when people take down trees and other decorations.

Fireworks explode in the sky during the New Year 2014 Celebration at Moscow's Red Square.


"Go big or go home. What do you have to lose?"

"Ten months in planning, over 500,000 fireworks were used during the display which lasted around six minutes, with Guinness World Records adjudicators on hand to confirm that a new record had been set," the Guinness website said.

Guinness said the display spanned 94 kilometres of the Dubai coast, which boasts an archipelago of man-made islands and Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest tower. Enough fireworks were launched in the first minute of the display to break the previous record, set by Kuwait in 2011 with an hour-long show of 77,282 fireworks.

The main displays took place at Burj Khalifa and the luxurious Atlantis hotel located in Palm Jumeirah, one of three palm-shaped islands. US firm Fireworks by Grucci designed the display, using 100 computers and 200 technicians that put 5,000 hours of work to synchronise the pyrotechnics at a reported cost of around $6.7 million.

Dubai boasts the world's tallest tower, its largest man-made island, and one of the world's busiest airports. It set its latest record in May last year with Princess Tower, recorded by Guinness as the world's tallest residential building. Dubai has been anxious to become a permanent fixture on the world map of New Year celebrations, staging spectacular shows since the opening of the 828-metre Burj Khalifa in 2010.


You can enjoy the complete show here. Skip to 29:00min for the good stuff.


Abuse your crockery. Many cultures see New Year’s Eve as a time to celebrate and catch up with friends and family, but few do so in quite such an aggressive manner as the Danes.

In Denmark, it is traditional to keep your chipped and unwanted items of crockery, and then smash them against the front doors of your chums on the last night of the year. It’s a measure of your popularity to find a heap of broken china on the doorstep at midnight – which presumably comes as some comfort while you’re clearing it up.


The Spanish always stock up on grapes before New Year’s Eve, so they can eat one on each of the 12 chimes at midnight – not as easy as it sounds. The grape-munching is a 20th-century invention, started by Alicante’s grape farmers in 1909 as a way to dispose profitably of the surplus grapes from that year’s unexpectedly large harvest. This year the 12-grape custom was observed by almost everyone in Spain – as well as by new year’s revellers in several Spanish-speaking South American countries.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom there are many celebrations across the towns and cities, particularly in Scotland. Scotland is famous for a long list of “Hogmanay” traditions, from dancing a reel to swinging a fireball around one’s head. Hogmanay is the Scots word for the last day of the year and is synonymous with the celebration of the New Year in the Scottish manner. 

The most widespread national custom is the practice of first-footing, which starts immediately after midnight. This involves being the first person to cross the threshold of a friend or neighbour and bring symbolic gifts such as salt (less common today), coal, shortbread, whisky, and black bun (a rich fruit cake) intended to bring different kinds of luck to the householder. The first-foot is supposed to set the luck for the rest of the year. Traditionally, tall dark men are preferred as the first-foot. 

Areas of Scotland often developed their own Hogmanay rituals - fireball swinging in Stonehaven, burning the clavie in the town of Burghead, decorated herring while in Falkland, special baked cakes in St Andrews. The Hogmanay custom of singing "Auld Lang Syne" has become common in many countries. "Auld Lang Syne" is a traditional poem reinterpreted by Robert Burns, which was later set to music. It is now common to sing this in a circle of linked arms that are crossed over one another as the clock strikes midnight for New Year's Day. 

London joined the grandiose party with a spectacular fireworks display. Huge cheers went up as parliament's clock tower chimed in 2014, as people packed the banks of the River Thames to watch the pyrotechnics at the London Eye observation wheel. About 50,000 took part in "the world's first multi-sensory fireworks display", when peach snow, edible banana confetti and orange-scented bubbles descended on a section of the crowd.


The wonderfully named Bahamian festival Junkanoo takes place across the islands on both Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, beginning at 2am and continuing until long after dawn. Revellers in Nassau and elsewhere welcome the new year with a vibrant, noisy parade. Junkanoo is an expression of Bahamian art and culture. Large groups parade along Bay Street in downtown Nassau with elaborate costumes, dancing or playing goatskin drums, horns, bells, or whistles, as thousands watch and dance along.

It is thought to have originated in the 16th or 17th century. Junkanoo first began as a temporary celebration of freedom for slaves who were given three days off at Christmas time. Donning scary-looking masks, slaves played homemade musical instruments (drums and bells) and cavorted about freely on the island. Junkanoo's roots can be traced to West Africa. In fact, other areas in the region that practised slavery -- like Bermuda and Jamaica -- had their own versions of John Canoe parades.

A Junkanoo parade is featured in sequences of the James Bond film Thunderball that occur in Nassau. The celebration was staged specifically for the movie since it was filmed at the wrong time of year, but local residents were enthusiastic, creating elaborate floats and costumes and involving hundreds of people.



Another one of my favorites is Rio de Janeiro. New Years Eve is one of the most popular events in Brazil, indeed it's the second most celebrated event after the Rio Carnival. People from all over world flock to Rio to enjoy this holiday.

In Rio de Janeiro, millions of people gathered on Copacabana Beach and its lesser-known neighbours, Ipanema and Leblon. Brazil’s new year revellers often wear white to ward off unfriendly spirits, and they gather by the shore to make offerings to Iemanjá, who, according to the local Umbanda religion, is the Goddess of the Sea. Her worshippers launch thousands of tiny boats loaded with flowers and other gifts. Others jump seven waves for good luck – one for each day of the week.

Take a look back at the spectacular fireworks display which lit up the Copacabana beach as Rio welcomed in 2014. Over 3 million people crowded the famous site to be treated to an incredible display of pyrotechnics, involving 24 tonnes of fireworks. This video shows the spectacular fireworks display in all its glory as the party really got started in the Brazilian city.


In the United States, it is traditional to spend this occasion together with loved ones. A toast is made to the new year, with kisses, fireworks and parties among the customs. It is popular to make a New Year's resolution, although that is optional.

The most recognized celebration is at New York City, where the 5,386-kg, 3.7-m-diameter Times Square Ball located high above One Times Square is lowered starting at 11:59 p.m., with a countdown from sixty seconds until one second, when it reaches the bottom of its tower. The arrival of the new year is announced at the stroke of midnight with fireworks, music and a live celebration that is broadcast worldwide.

New York City 2014 Celebration

Today the ball-drop is such a recognised feature of the American new year that it is replicated around the US. In Eastport, Maine, for example, an eight-foot sardine is lowered from a window at the stroke of midnight, while in Key West, Florida, a drag queen called Sushi is lowered from a balcony inside a giant, red, high-heeled shoe.

I'm sure missing many different New Year celebrations around the world, but here are some more spectacular fireworks displays around the world. 


Where did we celebrate the coming 2014.....

Czech Republic

Prague is one of the most beautiful cities I've ever visited, breath taking. And with the Christmas and New Year decorations it looked dazzling. Keep in mind, if English is the only language you speak, you most certainly will need a phrase book or one of these translation applications. Thanks to my poor vocabulary in few Slavonic languages, we managed somehow. Hardly anyone speaks English...looool.

Prague Fireworks 1.1.2014
Prague Fireworks 1.1.2014

Prague - Christmas Bazaar 2014

I will make a separate post about Prague and Karlovy Vary....soon. But if you have a 101 places to visit list, Prague should be on that list. 

These are the unofficial fireworks at midnight...We were celebrating at a restaurant near there...It felt like a war zone. Glad no one got hurt.

And now the official, organized Fireworks that usually take place on 1st January, 6:00pm. They have official fireworks in Prague a day later so families with small children can enjoy it as well (at least I guess this is the reason).  Enjoy!

Let me know how you celebrate your New Year!

And check on the right side for more videos with spectacular Fireworks around the world!


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