1 Jan 2014

World welcomes the New Year

8:45 pm on 1 January 2014

Celebrations around the world have been held to mark the start of 2014, with millions of people attending spectacular fireworks displays.

The traditional pyrotechnics on Sydney's Harbour Bridge didn't disappoint and delighted almost 1 million people, while in Dubai fireworks exploded from the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, in a world record attempt for the largest display.

New Year's Eve fireworks erupt over Sydney's Harbour Bridge.

New Year's Eve fireworks erupt over Sydney's Harbour Bridge. Photo: AFP

In Russia, there was a spectacular display over the Kremlin in Moscow, while China counted down to midnight with light shows at the Great Wall near Beijing.

Events were also held in Jakarta, Singapore and in Japan, where Shinto priests gathered at shrines.

As midnight struck across western Europe, Berlin and Paris were among the capitals staging spectacular displays. In London, people lined the banks of the River Thames to hear the chimes of Big Ben at midnight.

Thousands of revellers in New York's Times Square welcomed in the year, braving bitterly cold weather to see the traditional drop of a shimmering crystal ball.

In Brazil, organisers of Rio de Janeiro's celebrations estimated that more than 1 million revellers packed the city's famous Copacabana beach to watch fireworks light up the bay after midnight.

NZ among first to celebrate

New Zealand was one of the first countries to ring in 2014. Large crowds gathered in several parts of central Auckland and staged a rowdy countdown as the midnight hour approached, followed by the singing of Auld Lang Syne.

Revellers at the junction of Queen Street and Victoria Street.

Revellers at the junction of Queen Street and Victoria Street. Photo: RNZ

In Christchurch, people gathered in Hagley Park in Christchurch to celebrate following a special New Year countdown held for children earlier on Tuesday evening, while Dunedin's Octagon was packed for fireworks and the firing of the Robbie Burns Cannon.

There were also big gatherings in traditional New Year's Eve spots including Gisborne, Mount Maunganui, the Coromandel, Queenstown and Wanaka.

Many revellers were still on the streets as bars and clubs closed at 4am under new alcohol laws.

Wellington City Council has scrapped its traditional New Year's Eve celebrations in the capital in favour of an afternoon concert on New Year's Day.