Sydney, China, Japan rock New Year with fireworks

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Sydney has kicked off New Year celebrations with a dazzling fireworks spectacular, the first in a wave of pyrotechnics to usher in 2014 from Hong Kong to Dubai.

Seven tonnes of explosives lit up Australia’s biggest city late on Tuesday, with fireworks shooting off the Opera House for the first time in more than 10 years as part of the December 31 extravaganza, focused on the Harbour Bridge.

Fireworks explode over Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong on January 1, 2014. A wave of pyrotechnic displays kicked off new year celebrations in major cities around the world, with Hong Kong welcoming 2014 with a choreographed music and fireworks show. AFP PHOTO / ALEX OGLE

Fireworks explode over Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong on January 1, 2014. A wave of pyrotechnic displays kicked off new year celebrations in major cities around the world, with Hong Kong welcoming 2014 with a choreographed music and fireworks show. AFP PHOTO

Tonga, located near the international dateline, was one of the first nations to greet 2014, holding a prayer festival that culminated with a bamboo “cannon” fired into the air.

Antarctica was also among the first places to celebrate 2014. Passengers and crew on a ship awaiting rescue after being stuck for a week in ice rang in the New Year with their specially composed anthem.

Cities across Asia also hailed in the New Year, with Hong Kong boasting its biggest-ever countdown show.

In Rio de Janeiro, authorities are predicting that 2.3 million people – a third of them tourists – will crowd Copacabana Beach for fireworks and pop music.

*People release balloons to celebrate the New Year during an annual countdown ceremony in Tokyo on January 1, 2014. Some 2,000 balloons were released in the air, carrying with the visitors' wishes. AFP PHOTO/

*People release balloons to celebrate the New Year during an annual countdown ceremony in Tokyo on January 1, 2014. Some 2,000 balloons were released in the air, carrying with the visitors’ wishes. AFP PHOTO

Major spectaculars will also light up Moscow’s Red Square, Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate and central London when Big Ben chimes midnight.

An expected one million revellers will gather in New York to mark the stroke of midnight and the traditional New Year’s Eve ball-drop over Times Square.

Cape Town will have a free concert with fireworks and a 3D tribute to Nelson Mandela, who died on December 5.

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