World greets 2014 with dazzling fireworks displays

New Yorkers brave winter chill, Londoners get a tasty treat and Dubai bids to break world record

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 January, 2014, 11:18pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 January, 2014, 2:40am


In New York, adult diapers and a tolerance for bone-chilling temperatures were the order of the evening as revellers rang in the New Year in Times Square.

Across the pond, celebrations in London had a different flavour as edible peach snow and strawberry mist descended on partygoers watching midnight pyrotechnics. Around 50,000 people there took part in what was dubbed the "world's first multi-sensory fireworks display", poking their tongues out to catch the flavours designed to match the colours on show.

Dubai shattered the world record for the largest ever pyrotechnic display on New Year's Eve with a show involving more than half a million fireworks, Guinness World Records said yesterday.

But such spectacles held little appeal for Brianna Becerril, a 21-year-old singer-songwriter from Chino, California, who persuaded her grandparents to join her at Times Square.

"It's Times Square! It's the ball!" she said. "The fireworks may be better in Dubai, or in London, but this is extra special."

As evening fell, they huddled together for warmth under big, furry hats, dined on cold chicken nuggets and drank nothing so they wouldn't have to leave to find a toilet. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience!" Becerril said.

The sea of horn-tooting, hat-wearing humanity that filled the Crossroads of the World was part celebration, part endurance sport because post-9/11 security measures force spectators into pens at least 12 hours in advance, with no food, no warmth and no place to go to the bathroom.

"We've got adult diapers. We're wearing them right now," said 14-year-old Amber Woods, who came with friends from the New York suburbs to experience the event for the first time. They entered their corral at 10am. For nourishment, they brought lollipops and popcorn.

In London, bubbles of orange-scented smoke and apple and cherry mist were released into the air as the 11-minute firework salvo lit up the London Eye observation wheel.

"Amazing! It was phenomenal. It was really tasty with all those flavours coming in," one female reveller said.

"There is no better way to celebrate the highs of 2013 and the start of an exciting New Year than by seeing one of the world's most dazzling firework displays, now augmented in more ways than one," said London Mayor Boris Johnson. "A spectacular display of pyrotechnics that you can taste and even smell."

Up to 100,000 people in key viewing areas by the River Thames got packs featuring scratch and sniff programmes, LED wristbands and seven kinds of fruit-flavoured sweets that linked to the show.

Dubai made its claim for the spotlight with a dazzling 30-minute show. The display capped off with six minutes of pyrotechnics that engulfed the city's man-made, palm-shaped island, with its fronds and trunk shimmering in thousands of lights.

Enough fireworks were launched in the first minute of the display to break the previous record, set by Kuwait in 2011 with an hour-long show of 77,282 fireworks.

Officials from Guinness World Records were on hand to measure the scale of the event.