Revelers welcome 2018 around the world

By AFP   January 1, 2018 | 09:35 am GMT+7
With toughest security in years, the world is looking ahead to a rumbling 2018. 

Countless revelers switched into party mode Sunday across Europe to ring in 2018 after Sydney and Hong Kong earlier welcomed New Year on the other side of the globe with dazzling firework displays.

Revelers danced to Auld Lang Syne in Hong Kong as the city staged a stunning pyrotechnics display over its famous Victoria Harbour and thousands watched as "shooting stars" were fired from the rooftops of skyscrapers in a 10-minute musical fireworks display.

Three hours earlier Australia had rung in the New Year with a spectacular display of rainbow-coloured fireworks cascading from Sydney Harbour Bridge, as partygoers marked the nation's legalisation of gay marriage amid tight security.

As clocks prepared to strike midnight in Europe, London and Paris were awash with people despite the winter cold.

A storm warning and drizzle failed to dampen spirits on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, where thousands gathered for a light show and a fireworks display at the Arc de Triomphe.

Nearly 2,000 security force members were deployed to protect the crowd, out of some 140,000 mobilized nationwide to guard against the jihadist threat which the authorities describe as "still high".

One reveler, who gave his name only as Stephane, insisted that a spate of recent attacks on France were "in the past."

"Life goes on and they (jihadists) are on the retreat," he said.

In London, more than 100,000 ticket-holders were expected to watch London's firework display from the banks of the River Thames.

As per tradition, the Big Ben bell in the Houses of Parliament will ring in Britain's new year, the chimes having been turned back on especially for the celebrations as the famous clock tower is undergoing renovation and encased in scaffolding.

Despite the British capital being hit by four terror attacks in 2017, Scotland Yard said it had fewer police officers on the streets than for last year's event.

"We will have the right response of officers at the right locations," said superintendent Nick Aldworth.

"There is no specific threat to this event," he added.

Tens of thousands of people were expected in Edinburgh for its Hogmanay celebrations -- one of the world's biggest street parties.

Around the world

In Berlin, special tents were set up at the Brandenburg Gate to care for women victims of sexual harassment or those who feel threatened, following mass assaults on women in Cologne two years ago.

In Cologne itself, 1,400 police were being mobilised, street lighting improved and more video cameras installed.

As the midnight chimes neared in western Europe, Dubai had already moved into 2018, celebrating with a laser show on the world's tallest tower, the 828-metre (2,716-foot) Burj Khalifa.

Moscow was likewise into a new year and a new day with major boulevards and 36 key sites decked out.

In Africa, Cameroon President Paul Biya used the occasion to remind his citizens of their "duty" to "maintain republican order" as well as "social peace and national unity" amid unrest in Anglophone regions.

Gabon's President Ali Bongo vowed "radical change in governance" in the coming year in his end-of-year speech.

"I am determined to do everything possible to strengthen our unity, regain our cohesion," he said. "Cohesion is my ambition for Gabon".

In the Americas the countdown continued, meanwhile. In Brazil's party capital Rio millions were to gather on Copacabana beach to watch the fireworks, with many wearing white, the traditional colour to usher in the new year.

Toughest security in years

Despite the joyous mood among those enjoying the party fun, stricter security has been a key focus amid fears that crowds could be targets for vehicle and other terror attacks.

In Australia, the stronger police presence included some officers carrying semi-automatic rifles in Sydney and bollards used as barriers against vehicles.

Earlier in December one man was killed and more than a dozen hurt when a man ploughed a car into a crowd of pedestrians in Melbourne.

Other cities are also on alert following deadly vehicle assaults over the past two years in Barcelona, Nice and London.

New York's Times Square celebrations are set to go ahead despite the Arctic chill gripping much of the central and northeastern United States and Canada.

But revelers there will be guarded by the strongest security presence in years, after two recent attacks apparently inspired by the Islamic State group.

Looking ahead to 2018 

IS's defeat in Iraq and Syria was one of the key stories this year, but the jihadists remain a threat and numerous attacks around the world were claimed by them or Al-Qaeda-linked groups.

Donald Trump stole the news spotlight after making his debut as US President in January 2017, with his "America first" policies and a bombastic personal style that has shaken up international diplomacy.

Political and diplomatic earthquakes set to rumble into 2018 include the crisis in the Middle East between Saudi Arabia and its allies against Qatar, and the humanitarian disaster in Yemen.

In Europe, further talks on Brexit will help shape the region's future trade relationship while Russia is set to host the football World Cup amid frictions with the West.

Fireworks light the sky over the Opera House and Harbour Bridge during New Years Eve celebrations in Sydney early on January 1, 2018. Photo by AFP/Saeed Khan.

Fireworks light the sky over the Opera House and Harbour Bridge during New Year's Eve celebrations in Sydney early on January 1, 2018. Photo by AFP/Saeed Khan.


First responders stand on a road near the Eiffel Tower during New Years celebrations in Paris on December 31, 2017.  Photo by AFP/Zakaria Abdelkafi

First responders stand on a road near the Eiffel Tower during New Year's celebrations in Paris on December 31, 2017.  Photo by AFP/Zakaria Abdelkafi


A woman reacts to the camera as she celebrates during New Years festivities at the Farm School in the resort town of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe on January 1, 2018. Photo by AFP/Zinyange Auntony

A woman reacts to the camera as she celebrates during New Year's festivities at the Farm School in the resort town of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe on January 1, 2018. Photo by AFP/Zinyange Auntony

Performers dressed as snowmen march in downtown Moscow on December 29, 2017. Photo by AFP/Kirill Kudryavtsev.

Performers dressed as snowmen march in downtown Moscow on December 29, 2017. Photo by AFP/Kirill Kudryavtsev.


People dance during New Year celebrations at Mary Fitzgerald Square in Johannesburg, South Africa on January 1 2018. Photo by AFP/Wikus de Wet

People dance during New Year celebrations at Mary Fitzgerald Square in Johannesburg, South Africa on January 1 2018. Photo by AFP/Wikus de Wet


Fireworks explode over the New City Hall of Hanover, northern Germany, on January 1, 2018, to usher in the new year. Photo by AFP/DPA/Julian Stratenschulte

Fireworks explode over the New City Hall of Hanover, northern Germany, on January 1, 2018, to usher in the new year. Photo by AFP/DPA/Julian Stratenschulte


People react after counting down to New Years day on January 1, 2018, during the New Years music event at Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo by AFP/Yasuoyoshi Chiba

People react after counting down to New Year's day on January 1, 2018, during the New Year's music event at Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo by AFP/Yasuoyoshi Chiba


Indian people take a selfie during New Years Eve celebrations at India gate in New Delhi on December 31, 2017. Photo by AFP/Dominique Faget

Indian people take a selfie during New Year's Eve celebrations at India gate in New Delhi on December 31, 2017. Photo by AFP/Dominique Faget

Performers look at selfie photos before going on stage at a countdown event marking the arrival of the New Year in Beijing on December 31, 2017. Photo by AFP/Greg BakerChildren pose for a photo before an ice sculpture depicting a Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and self-propelled launcher, as people mark the new year at the Pyongyang Ice Sculpture Festival on Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on December 31, 2017. Photo by AFP/Kim Won-Jin

Performers look at selfie photos before going on stage at a countdown event marking the arrival of the New Year in Beijing on December 31, 2017. Photo by AFP/Greg Baker

Children pose for a photo before an ice sculpture depicting a Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and self-propelled launcher, as people mark the new year at the Pyongyang Ice Sculpture Festival on Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on December 31, 2017. Photo by AFP/Kim Won-Jin

Children pose for a photo before an ice sculpture depicting a Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and self-propelled launcher, as people mark the new year at the Pyongyang Ice Sculpture Festival on Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on December 31, 2017. Photo by AFP/Kim Won-Jin


Security stewards conduct a security check on members of the public attending the annual fireworks display of the New Years celebrations, in central London on December 31, 2017. Photo by AFP/Tolga Akmen

Security stewards conduct a security check on members of the public attending the annual fireworks display of the New Year's celebrations, in central London on December 31, 2017. Photo by AFP/Tolga Akmen


Revelers await in Times Square early morning prior to New Years Eve celebrations on December 31, 2017 in New York City. Photo by AFP/Kena Betancur

Revelers await in Times Square early morning prior to New Year's Eve celebrations on December 31, 2017 in New York City. Photo by AFP/Kena Betancur

A man injured by firecrackers is being taken care of at the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center in Manila early on January 1, 2018, after new years celebrations. The Philippines is mainly Roman Catholic but the celebrations draw on ancient superstitions and Chinese traditions in which the noise from firecrackers is meant to drive away evil spirits and bring good luck in the coming year. Adding to the danger of annual fireworks celebrations in the streets, there are over 1.2 million unlicensed firearms in the Philippines and some of those are used in the festivities. Photo by AFP/Noel Celis

A man injured by firecrackers is being taken care of at the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center in Manila early on January 1, 2018, after new year's celebrations. The Philippines is mainly Roman Catholic but the celebrations draw on ancient superstitions and Chinese traditions in which the noise from firecrackers is meant to drive away evil spirits and bring good luck in the coming year. Adding to the danger of annual fireworks celebrations in the streets, there are over 1.2 million unlicensed firearms in the Philippines and some of those are used in the festivities. Photo by AFP/Noel Celis


An Iraqi Kurdish woman dances as Peshmerga members gather to celebrate the New Year on the frontline in Makhmur, about 280 kilometres (175 miles) north of the capital Baghdad, on December 31, 2017. Photo by AFP/Safin Hamed

An Iraqi Kurdish woman dances as Peshmerga members gather to celebrate the New Year on the frontline in Makhmur, about 280 kilometres (175 miles) north of the capital Baghdad, on December 31, 2017. Photo by AFP/Safin Hamed


People take part in a traditional sea bathing as part of new years celebrations on December 31, 2017 on a nudist beach in Le Cap dAgde, southern France. Photo by AFP/Pascal Guyot

People take part in a traditional sea bathing as part of new years celebrations on December 31, 2017 on a nudist beach in Le Cap d'Agde, southern France. Photo by AFP/Pascal Guyot

People wearing bear skins parade as part of a new year and winter festival during which groups from northern Romanian villages are invited to sing winter carols and dance on December 29, 2017 in the city of Vatra Dornei. Photo by AFP/Daniel Mihailescu

People wearing bear skins parade as part of a new year and winter festival during which groups from northern Romanian villages are invited to sing winter carols and dance on December 29, 2017 in the city of Vatra Dornei. Photo by AFP/Daniel Mihailescu


Palestinian children play on the beach in Gaza City on December 31, 2017 on the last day of the year. Photo by AFP/Mohammed Abed

Palestinian children play on the beach in Gaza City on December 31, 2017 on the last day of the year. Photo by AFP/Mohammed Abed

Illustration taken with a long time exposure on December 27, 2017 in Sieversdorf, eastern Germany, shows four people drawing the year 2018 with sparklers. Photo by AFP/DPA/Patrick Pleul

Illustration taken with a long time exposure on December 27, 2017 in Sieversdorf, eastern Germany, shows four people drawing the year "2018" with sparklers. Photo by AFP/DPA/Patrick Pleul

 
 
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