Europe rings in 2019; London dedicates fireworks to EU citizens

London/Sydney (dpa) – Europe has welcomed 2019 with a series of firework displays, including one in London that was dedicated to the EU citizens living in the British capital.

The words "London is open" were spoken in seven languages as the fireworks at the London Eye ferris wheel went off, while the soundtrack included the songs "We Are Your Friends," "Stay" and "Don't Leave Me Alone.

"By paying tribute to our close relationship with Europe as we welcome in the New Year tonight, we will once again show the world that London will always be open," Mayor Sadiq Khan said.
The London mayor has been vocal about how Britain's planned departure from the European Union on March 29 will affect his city.
Fireworks also lit up the skies over the Brandenburg Gate in Germany and the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, where the names of this year's victorious football World Cup team were projected onto the landmark.
Sweden greeted the New Year with its annual tradition of a reading of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem "Ring Out Wild Bells," read this year by actor Mikael Persbrandt.
In Moscow the bells in the Kremlin's Spasskaya Tower rang out, but the party mood was dampened by a gas explosion at an apartment building in the southern city of Magnitogorsk. Dozens of people are still missing.
In Athens, where fireworks went off above the Acropolis despite pouring rain, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras promised that "2019 will be a year of rebirth for our country."
The country, which has struggled with a financial crisis for the best part of a decade, officially exited its bailout programme in August.
The European celebrations came hours after Asia and the Pacific celebrated the arrival of the New Year.
The Pacific island nation of Samoa was the first after moving its time zone forward by 24 hours in 2011.
New Zealand and Australia followed with Sydney holding a spectacular harbour fireworks display attended by more than 1 million revellers.
In Japan, bells at Buddhist temples chimed 108 times to mark the new year - a tradition that recalls the number of earthly desires a person must overcome to attain nirvana.
The New Year began quietly in China, where the main celebrations will occur when the Chinese New Year begins on February 5 according to the lunar calendar.
Meanwhile in the United States, celebrations were still gearing up.
In New York, security was tight, with the Big Apple expecting up to 2 million people on Times Square for celebrations culminating in the drop of a crystal ball in the final seconds of 2018.
Eleven journalists are set to press the button releasing the ball, the New York Times reported, as part of an effort to recognize the erosion of press freedoms at home and abroad.
Los Angeles and Honolulu were to round out the US reverie, while Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro were among the top New Year's Eve party locations in Latin America.
The celebrations will end more or less where they started - in American Samoa, next door to Samoa.  


Tuesday, January 1st 2019

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