Dubai brings in 2015 with light and sound display
Dubai sought to break the world record for the largest LED-illuminated facade
Dubai sought another record-breaking celebration of the New Year with the largest LED-illuminated facade at the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa.
Hundreds of thousands of people gathered around the landmark tower for an impressive fireworks display and a record-breaking LED-illuminated facade.
Some 70,000 LED panels wrapped around the Burj Khalifa with a team from Guinness World Records present to monitor the display, Emaar Properties said.
Lasers flashed through the skies over Downtown, the chic district surrounding Burj Khalifa, accompanied by music and dancing fountains at the foot of the tower, to the delight of a large crowd.
Last year, the emirate won title for the world's largest firework display, according to Guinness.
Elsewhere in the world, people are gratefully ringing in a new year after a turbulent 2014 marred by terror woes, Ebola outbreaks and a horrific series of airline disasters.
Across the globe, revelers looking for a respite from the gloom converged the shores of Sydney harbor and New York's Times Square to welcome 2015. A look at how the world is celebrating:
First up: down under
Sydney takes pride in being one of the first major cities in the world to welcome each new year, and it greeted 2015 in its trademark glittery fashion - with a tropical-style fireworks display featuring shimmering gold and silver palm tree pyrotechnic effects.
More than 1.5 million revelers crowded along the shores of the city's harbor in warm summer weather to watch the vivid eruption of light over the Harbour Bridge, Opera House and other points.
At midnight, the crowd cheered as a 12-minute firework display was launched. A tribute to two hostages killed in the December siege inside a downtown cafe was displayed on the pylons of the Harbour Bridge during the main fireworks display.
Prayers in Indonesia
The loss of AirAsia Flight 8501 and a deadly landslide in Central Java muted celebrations in Indonesia. In the capital, the city conducted prayers for the victims of the tragedies, in addition to the annual Jakarta Night Festival.
Other Indonesian cities opted to cancel or tone down their celebrations. Surabaya's Mayor Tri Rismaharini banned any kind of New Year entertainment in Indonesia's second-largest city, where most of the 162 people on the AirAsia flight that crashed Sunday were from. Hundreds of Surabaya residents, including young children, lit candles and braved a drizzle at a park to observe a minute of silence for crash victims.
"Let us pray for the grieving families of those on board the plane. Let us pray this will be the last tragedy for Surabaya," Rismaharini told the crowd.
Stampede in Shanghai
Thirty-five people were killed in a stampede during New Year's celebrations in downtown Shanghai, city officials said.
The deaths - the worst disaster to hit one of China's showcase cities in years - occurred a half-hour before midnight at Shanghai's popular riverfront Bund area, which can be jammed with spectators for major events. A Shanghai government statement said Thursday that another 46 people were receiving hospital treatment, including 14 who were seriously injured.
The official Xinhua News Agency quoted an unnamed witness as saying people had scrambled for coupons that looked like dollar bills that were being thrown out of a third-floor window. It said the cause of the stampede was under investigation.
New York, New York
A million people crammed into New York's Times Square saw the new year in with kisses, hugs and cheers after the giant, glittering New Year's Eve ball descended and a ton of confetti rained down.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, flanked by his wife and two children, pushed the ceremonial button that set the 11,875-pound Waterford crystal ball in motion. Revelers from around the world waving pink balloons and wearing pink foam hats exchanged good wishes and danced as Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" blared on loudspeakers.
Agustina Bernacchia, a tourist from Argentina, had arrived early to secure her spot. She said she wanted to experience the New Year's Eve party she'd always seen on TV.
"It was a dream for us," Bernacchia said.
Shivering in Las Vegas
New Year's Eve revelers in bunny costumes - the corsets and fishnets kind - and designer suits walking down the Vegas strip Wednesday night had scarves wrapped around their necks against temperatures expected to drop into the 20s. Occasional flurries fell, but none stuck around long enough to be snow.
Laura Mayo of Las Vegas was wearing a plush fur coat, but not shivering bunny Rechelle Sheridan. "It takes away from the costume," the 25-year-old city resident said.
Synchronized bursts of color shot from the rooftops of seven casino-hotels along the Las Vegas Strip as fireworks filled the sky, ushering in the new year. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority had said it expected about 340,000 people to attend.
[With The Associated Press]