World

New Year's Eve: Global celebrations usher in 2015

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Media captionFireworks light up the skies around the world as millions welcome 2015

Celebrations to mark the start of 2015 have taken place around the world, with firework displays in a host of major cities.

New Zealand led the way, with Sydney Harbour providing a spectacular backdrop to Australia's display.

There was shock in Asia as a crush in Shanghai, China saw 35 people die marking the start of 2015.

The Gulf Arab emirate of Dubai aimed to break the world record for the largest LED-illuminated facade.

It launched its spectacular display centred on the world's tallest building.

Thousands of people celebrated in New York's Times Square for the city's annual New Year's Eve festivities, but this year security was tight as a protest took place nearby against police use of force and the state of race relations in the country.

Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco were among the last major cities to see in the new year.

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Image caption Thousands thronged the streets of New York to see in the new year
Image copyright AP
Image caption The world renowned strip in Las Vegas saw a spectacular display of fireworks
Image copyright PA
Image caption In London the celebrations were centred around the London Eye by the River Thames
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption In France revellers gathered near the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Elysees Avenue in Paris
Image copyright AFP
Image caption In Italy people welcomed the new year on the Piazza Venezia in Rome
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Image caption A firework display was held in central Prague
Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Gulf Arab emirate of Dubai aimed to break the world record for the largest LED-illuminated facade

Europe's celebrations began in Moscow with fireworks over St Basil's Cathedral and the Kremlin.

In Berlin a huge open air concert was held in front of the Brandenburg Gate, while in Paris the Champs-Elysees was closed to traffic so that pedestrians could witness a visual spectacle projected onto the Arc de Triomphe 15 minutes before the start of the new year.

The arrival of 2015 was also significant for Lithuania as it became the 19th country to join the euro currency.

In Spain, millions of revellers converged around Madrid's Puerta del Sol, while in Barcelona huge fireworks displays or street parties were held. Similar events took place in the UK cities of London and Edinburgh.

Up to 1.5m people lined the shores of Sydney harbour to see the city's famous firework display.

The city's Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, said the recent hostage crisis in the city had focussed the minds of Sydney residents.

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Image caption Sydney's Harbour Bridge was the centrepiece of the city's new year fireworks

Celebration plans were muted in Indonesia in the wake of the recent AirAsia Flight QZ8501 crash.

But across the rest of Asia there were lavish parties, with a sound and light show at Beijing's Olympic stadium and an eight-minute firework display in Hong Kong.

"I think a more peaceful year would be good for everyone," Louis Ho, 65, told AFP news agency, as the territory bade farewell to a year that saw widespread street protests.

Moscow's display led the way in Europe, with President Vladimir Putin describing the 2014 annexation of Crimea as "a historic landmark" for Russia.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Moscow's skyline lit up as fireworks flared over the Kremlin and St Basil's Cathedral

Mr Putin also sent messages to several world leaders, telling US President Barack Obama that the US and Russia had a shared interest in "maintaining peace and international stability".

In Brazil, more than one million people gathered on Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach, while the Pacific Islands just to the west of the international date line were the first places to herald the new year.

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Image caption Musician Elton John for the first time performed in New York City on New Year's Eve
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Image caption Revellers celebrated as fireworks exploded during new year festivities on Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro
Image copyright AP
Image caption Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour was lit up by fireworks as the clock hit midnight
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Students at China's Shenyang Agriculture University found their own way of marking the start of 2015
Image copyright AP
Image caption It was a similar picture from students in Ahmadabad, India
Image copyright AP
Image caption A woman prays during new year celebrations at Jogye Buddhist temple in Seoul, South Korea
Image copyright AFP
Image caption 2015 is the "Year of the Sheep" in China, as illustrated by this student in eastern Shandong province
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Grandfather Frost - the Russian equivalent of Father Christmas - and his granddaughter joined Kyrgyzstan's new year parade in Bishkek

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