- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 31, 2013

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Exploding fireworks sprayed from the sails of the Sydney Opera House and the Australian city’s harbor bridge at midnight Tuesday as the world ushered in a new year.

More than 1 million people crammed the Sydney Harbor foreshore on a warm summer night to watch the pyrotechnics show that appeared to live up to its billing as the most extravagant of Sydney’s already renowned annual display. Dubai will later try to create the world’s largest fireworks show to ring in 2014.

Revelers heading to New York City’s Times Square could expect the annual ball drop, the hefty police presence but no mayor this year. The new year will instead be rung in by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.


PHOTOS: Celebrating the new year


Closer to the edge of the International Dateline, New Zealand bid farewell to 2013 with fireworks erupting from Auckland’s Sky Tower as cheering revelers danced in the streets of the South Pacific island nation’s largest city.

Dubai is known for glitz, glamor and over-the-top achievements like the world’s tallest tower, and this year it plans to break another record by creating the largest fireworks show ever.

Organizers plan to light up the city’s coastline with a flying falcon made out of fireworks that moves across a massive man-made palm-shaped island alongside a countdown in fireworks. Organizers say they will also create a burst of light out of fireworks to imitate a sunrise and dazzle spectators with a United Arab Emirates flag that could also break records for being the largest ever made out of fireworks.

The 6-minute extravaganza will include 500,000 fireworks from 400 firing locations, all synchronized by 100 computers from stations across the city, said Barrett Wissman, co-chairman of IMG Artists that is managing the event. Guinness World Record officials will be on hand to measure the scale of the event.

Wissman said the display will cover 30 miles (48 kilometers) of seafront. “It is really mind-blowing, the size of this,” he said.

In Australia, fireworks launched from four sails of the Sydney Opera House for the first time in more than a decade. The Sydney Harbor Bridge was also illuminated by fireworks shooting skyward and raining from its decks to the water below.

Organizers had expected 1.6 million people would line the harbor shores to watch 7 metric tons (7.7 U.S. tons) of pyrotechnics explode in 12 seconds. The estimate appeared accurate.

Mona Rucek, a 28-year-old tourist from Munich, Germany, was impressed by the display.

“It filled up the whole sky. It’s really, really nice,” she said on the Sydney waterside.

In Tokyo, five priests at the Zojoji temple used ropes to swing a wooden pole against a large bell, sounding the first of 108 gongs to mark the new year. Simultaneously, “2014” lit up in white lights on the modern Tokyo Tower in the background.

Both Japanese and tourists jammed the temple grounds for the traditional ceremony. Suburban resident Juji Muto said he was curious to hear how the bell sounded. At his age, the 75-year-old retiree said he wishes as every year for good health in the new year.

China planned light shows at part of the Great Wall near Beijing and at the Bund waterfront in Shanghai. The city of Wuhan in central Hubei province called off its fireworks show and banned fireworks downtown to avoid worsening its smoggy air.

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