World

New year celebrations welcome 2014

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Media captionWatch six new year celebrations from around the world in 60 seconds

Celebrations are taking place around the world to mark the start of 2014.

People in Auckland, New Zealand, were among the first to celebrate. In Australia, hundreds of thousands gathered for a spectacular firework display around Sydney's Harbour Bridge.

Similar shows took place in cities across the world, with thousands lining London's River Thames.

New York staged its traditional New Year's Eve countdown and ball-drop over a chilly Times Square.

US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a New York native, pushed the ceremonial button to drop the famous ball on a rooftop over the square.

Moscow also celebrated with a spectacular fireworks display over the Kremlin.

However, there was intense security in Red Square following recent suicide bombings in the southern Russian city of Volgograd.

Dubai - in the same time zone as Moscow - aimed for a world record with a fireworks extravaganza stretching along 30 miles (50km) of seafront.

Adjudicators from Guinness World Records were on hand to check proceedings, but it was not clear immediately whether the attempt was successful.

The world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, was the centrepiece of the display.

Image caption Fireworks in London featured peach-flavoured "snow" and edible banana confetti
Image caption In New York's Times Square a countdown and ball drop triggered celebrations
Image caption The Burj Khalifa in downtown Dubai was lit up by fireworks to welcome 2014
Image caption Couples on Copacabana Beach enjoyed Rio de Janeiro's celebrations

East Asian cities also rang in the new year, with Beijing, Jakarta and Singapore all hosting celebrations.

In Hong Kong, tens of thousands of spectators watched the fireworks over Victoria Harbour.

The Chinese city of Wuhan had called off its display to avoid worsening a smog problem.

In Japan, Shinto priests gathered at shrines. Japanese people traditionally visit shrines and temples to pray for their families at this time.

In Rome, Pope Francis offered "words of strength, courage and hope'' in his first homily of the new year, at St Peter's Basilica.

In the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, an estimated 100,000 people sang the national anthem in the city's Independence Square in support of further integration with Europe.

The square has been the focus of pro-European protests for more than a month after President Viktor Yanukovych ditched a key deal with the EU.

As midnight struck across western Europe, Berlin was among the capitals staging spectacular displays.

Image caption Berlin's Brandenburg Gate was the backdrop for a spectacular display of fireworks
Image caption It's not just about fireworks - Japanese people traditionally visit shrines and temples to pray for their families at New Year
Image caption North Koreans were treated to a firework display over the Juche Tower and Taedong River in Pyongyang
Image caption In the New Zealand town of Queenstown, revellers partied ahead of the New Year
Image caption Women in traditional costumes danced during a parade for 2013's last sundown on Bali, Indonesia
Image caption In Sydney, a spectacular display lit up the famous Harbour Bridge as it kicked off the new year's celebrations

In London - an hour behind - the chimes of Big Ben signalled what was billed as the world's first "multi-sensory" firework show, with peach-flavoured "snow" and edible banana confetti showering crowds packing the banks of the River Thames.

In Scotland, where new year festivities are known as Hogmanay, crowds thronging the streets of Edinburgh were dazzled by a more traditional firework display over the ramparts of Edinburgh castle.

Meanwhile in Dublin, performers took part in a People's Procession of Light, a torch-lit celebration illuminating its way through the city.

Cape Town in South Africa staged a free concert with lasers, fireworks and a special tribute to former President Nelson Mandela, who died on 5 December.

In Brazil, organisers of Rio de Janeiro's celebrations estimated that more than one million revellers packed the city's famous Copacabana beach to watch fireworks light up the bay after midnight.

New York will soon mark the new year with the traditional New Year's Eve countdown and ball drop over Times Square.

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