Authorities are keeping a watchful eye for protests by Occupy demonstrators as hundreds of thousands of Hongkongers are expected to turn out on the streets to celebrate the start of the new year. Fireworks and artificial snow effects will light up the skies over Victoria Harbour in an eight-minute show as the clock ticks into midnight. The event “New Year New World – Hong Kong Countdown Celebrations” is organised by the Tourism Board and is the biggest countdown in town. It is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of people to watch from both sides of the harbour. Last year, the event drew an audience of 380,000 along the harbourfront and was broadcast by local and international media outlets. But two shopping malls have called off their countdowns for this year – apparently over security concerns following Occupy Central protests. For the first time in 20 years, Hongkongers will not be able to watch the ball drop at Times Square in Causeway Bay as the clock strikes midnight. Across the harbour, the decades-long tradition of counting down to Christmas Day was also scrapped last week at Harbour City in Tsim Sha Tsui. Both venues have denied that fears of Occupy protesters hijacking the events were behind the cancellations. But a new countdown event will be held at the Observation Wheel near Central pier. The three-hour carnival will feature dance, singing, magic shows and game booths under the ferris wheel. Other shopping malls across the city will also continue to hold celebrations. One, New Town Plaza in Sha Tin, will hold a celebration featuring an aerial dance show by a Vancouver-based dancing team at its atrium. Elsewhere, Kazakhstan women’s volleyball star Sabina Altynbekova and several Hong Kong singers will hold a volleyball training session with revellers as part of a countdown at Olympian City in Tai Kok Tsui. Revellers are also expected to jam the narrow, slopy streets of Lan Kwai Fong, the popular entertainment district, as in previous years. Public transport will run overnight with extended service hours to carry revellers home. Trains on MTR lines across the city, including the Light Rail in the Northwest New Territories, will run overnight apart from the two lines to Disneyland and the airport. Franchised bus company KMB will open five special overnight routes and extend the hours of 37 other lines. The Peak Tram travelling to the Victoria Peak that overlooks the city’s night skylines will extend service to 1am. The Peak Tower Sky Terrace will extend its opening hours to half an hour past midnight. Police are expected to deploy scores of officers to help manage the crowds. From 4pm, police will gradually close a number of main roads in Central, Wan Chai and Causeway Bay as revellers begin turning out for the celebrations. Traffic on the affected roads will be diverted. Police have yet to disclose the number of officers that will line up on both sides of Victoria Harbour on New Year’s Eve. But yesterday they appealed to the public not to hold or take part in “mobile occupation” – which involves people rallying in busy commercial districts to express their demands for democracy while they claim to be shopping. A police spokesman yesterday said that during the Christmas holidays and last weekend, protesters still gathered in the vicinity of Mong Kok, blocking the roads and causing chaos. “They not only affected the business of the shops there, but also caused serious nuisance to the residents nearby,” he said. The spokesman warned that officers would take action if people refused to comply with police advice and warnings, deliberately disrupted public order, or engaged in acts that disregard the safety of others. “Police also urge members of the public, in particular underage youngsters, not to take part in such activities or be incited to commit illegal acts,” the spokesman said. A small number of protesters rallied along Sai Yeung Choi Street South in Mong Kok on Tuesday evening under the guise of shopping. A video posted online showed some 10 protesters, holding yellow umbrellas and placards with the slogan “I want genuine democracy”. They were said to be free from police intervention. Two men aged 20 and 26 were arrested after pro-democracy messages were sprayed on the Avenue of Stars and the walls of the Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui with red paint today. The phrases were “true universal suffrage” and “689, step down” – a reference to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who was elected leader of the city by getting 689 votes. The arrests were made after police received a report from a security guard, 39, at about 3.15am. Police seized five walkie-talkies, a bag of plastic strips, a pair of pliers, several gloves and a face mask in a rucksack the elder man was carrying. The 26-year-old man was arrested for criminal damage and possession of instruments fit for unlawful purpose and the other man was arrested for criminal damage. They were being held for questioning and had not been charged. Detectives from Yau Tsim police district are investigating. What’s on around town Victoria Harbour Fireworks, artificial snow effects to light up the skies over Victoria Harbour in an eight-minute show. “2015” will be displayed on the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. From 11pm. The Hong Kong Observation Wheel Its first New Year countdown featuring dancing and singing performances, game booths and magic shows. From 9.30pm APM mall in Kwun Tong Courtdown party with performance by Canto-pop singers Alfred Hui Ting-hang, Fred Cheng and Jinny Ng Yeuk Hei. From 11pm. New Town Plaza in Sha Tin Aerial dance show by a Vancouver-based dancing team at its atrium. From 11pm. Olympian City in Tai Kok Tsui Countdown and a volleyball training session by Kazakhstan’s women volleyball star Sabina Altynbekova and several Hong Kong singers. From 10.30pm. Public Transport MTR All lines except the airport Express, the Disneyland Resort line, to run overnight. Buses KMB to open five special routes and extend the hours of 37 other lines, in addition to its usual overnight routes. New World First Bus and Citybus to enhance services on 21 night routes. Peak Tram Services to be extended to 1am. Star Ferry No service extension. Outlying island ferries Services to be extended to after the fireworks show ends.