New Year’s celebrations kicked off in New Zealand and Australia as revelers from around the world gathered Wednesday to say goodbye to 2014 and welcome 2015. From the warm shores of Sydney Harbor to below-freezing Times Square, crowds have converged across the globe for exuberant celebrations.
Australia’s Christmas Island, located on the international date line, was the first to greet 2015, though the first major celebrations took place in Wellington, New Zealand, and Sydney, which held its fireworks display in front of the city’s iconic Harbour Bridge. The glittery celebrations included a tribute to the two hostages killed during a siege in a downtown cafe in mid-December, according to the Independent.
Dubai’s customarily extravagant New Year’s celebrations were even more over-the-top this year. The six-minute fireworks show saw 479,651 shells fired and earned a Guinness World Records title, reported the Mirror. The city also boasted a star-studded bash at its #DXBNYE party, featuring performances by Pharrell Williams and Charlie XCX in the shadow of the city’s famed Burj Khalifa skyscraper.
More than 1 million people are gathered on Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana Beach, where New Year’s parties typically last past sunrise. Two dozen artists and DJs are slated to perform, according to the Associated Press.
One notable exception to the exuberant worldwide parties was Indonesia, a nation in mourning after the crash of AirAsia Flight 8501 in the Java Sea Sunday with 162 people on board. The capital, Jakarta, saw muted celebrations that included prayers for the victims. Celebrations were banned in Surabaya, the city from which the flight took off and the home of many of the victims, said the AP. Residents instead held a candlelight vigil.
In the U.S., New York’s celebrations geared up on Wednesday as crowds packed into Times Square, which will hold its traditional ball drop at midnight. Meanwhile, Las Vegas prepared for bad weather, with snow and wind forecast for late Wednesday, possibly postponing or canceling the city’s fireworks display.