World

New Year revellers around the world usher in 2017

As 2016 drew to a close, revellers in Canada celebrated a milestone birthday while bidding a weary adieu to a year filled with political surprises, prolonged conflicts and deaths of legendary celebrities.

Canadians kick off year-long 150th birthday bash at midnight

A young woman writes '2017' using a sparkler during the New Year's Eve celebrations in Nyiregyhaza, Hungary. (Attila Balazs/Associated Press)

As 2016 drew to a close, revellers in Canada celebrated a milestone birthday while bidding a weary adieu to a year filled with political surprises, prolonged conflicts and deaths of legendary celebrities.

Here's how people are ushering in the new year in Canada and around the world:

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      Canada

      In Ottawa, two massive fireworks displays that lit up Parliament Hill kicked off a year-long 150th birthday bash across Canada. More than $210 million had been allocated for the 150th anniversary projects and events.

      A stage with a giant red and white "Canada 150" banner was set up, and the enthusiastic crowd of thousands was kept entertained by Canadian artists that included Radio Radio, Brett Kissel and Carly Rae Jepsen.

      Fireworks explode over Parliament Hill in the first of two displays to celebrate New Year's Eve and Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

      Gov. Gen David Johnston, elder Albert Dumont and Heritage Minister Melanie Joly relit the Centennial flame.

      The Governor General of Canada released a message from Queen Elizabeth on Saturday.

      "I am delighted to offer all Canadians my best wishes and congratulations on the 150th anniversary of Confederation," said the statement from the Queen. "Throughout the years, particularly since your Centennial year, I have watched Canada develop into a remarkable nation. You have earned a reputation as a welcoming, respectful and compassionate country."

      New Year's Eve events were held in 19 cities across the country, including St. John's, which was the first to hit the midnight milestone.

      United States

      New York City's police commissioner said more than 7,000 officers secured the city for New Year's Eve.

      In Times Square, as many as a million revelers gathered to watch the crystal ball drop and ring in 2017.

      A woman runs after confetti picked up by wind while celebrating the new year at Times Square. (Julio Cortez/Associated Press)

      Police said there were no specific, credible terror threats against the city. But police said they had prepared — including lining the Manhattan streets near the celebration with sanitation trucks filled with sand to prevent any attempts to drive into crowds.

      It was impossible to drive into the crowd because of a new security measure. Dozens of garbage trucks filled with sand blocked vehicle access to Times Square.

      A reveller takes a selfie in the confetti during the new year celebration in New York's Times Square as seen from the Marriott Marquis. (Mary Altaffer/Associated Press)

      Revellers were checked by security officials twice, once when they entered the square and once when they got into viewing pens that stretched from 42nd Street to West 59th Street. No large bags or umbrellas were allowed.

      United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had the honour of pushing the Waterford crystal button that began a 60-second countdown to 2017.

      Mariah Carey was the headline performer in Times Square for Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest on ABC.

      However, the singer appeared to have technical difficulties during her live performance Saturday night. She even stopped singing her song Emotions, paced the stage and told the audience to finish the lyrics for her.

      She told the crowd, "I'm trying to be a good sport here."

      Mariah Carey performs during a concert in Times Square on New Year's Eve. (Stephanie Keith/Reuters)

      It's estimated that 300,000 visitors descended on Las Vegas for an extravagant New Year's Eve celebration.

      Nightclubs were pulling out all the stops with performances from DJ Calvin Harris, rappers T-Pain and Kendrick Lamar and artists Drake and Bruno Mars. The city's celebrity chefs crafted elaborate prix fixe menus complete with caviar and champagne toasts.

      Federal officials ranked the celebration just below the Super Bowl and on par with the festivities in Times Square. FBI and Secret Service agents worked alongside local police departments that put all hands on deck for the big night.

      People dance during a New Year's Eve celebration in Las Vegas. (John Locher/Associated Press)

      Turkey

      New Year's celebrations turned deadly when an armed assailant opened fire at a nightclub in Istanbul, killing dozens of people.

      Istanbul's governor said at least 39 people were killed and 69 others were wounded.

      Security measures had been heightened in major Turkish cities, with police barring traffic leading up to key squares in Istanbul and the capital, Ankara. In Istanbul, 17,000 police officers were on duty, some camouflaged as Santa Claus or street vendors.

      Policemen secure the area after a gun attack on Reina, a popular night club in Istanbul near the Bosphorus, in the early morning. (EPA)

      France

      Tourists and French revellers swarmed along Paris' illuminated Champs Elysees Avenue on a frosty night, admiring the laser display from the Arc de Triomphe and lines of trees sparkling with lights.

      "It's so magical to be here in Paris, on what people say is the world's most beautiful avenue," said Maureen O'Reilly, a visitor from Belfast, Northern Ireland. "At times like this, I do think about all those terrible things in Aleppo and how lucky we are here in Europe despite everything."

      Some people were happy to say goodbye to 2016.

      "It's been such a horrible year, with all these [celebrity] deaths, Syria, Brexit and Trump. I say: good riddance," said Karine Dublot, from Lyon.

      The Arc de Triomphe monument is illuminated by a laser and 3D mapping display as part of New Year celebrations in Paris. (Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty)

      Finland

      Finland New Year's Eve festivities kicked off celebrations for 100 years of independence from Russia.

      Tens of thousands of people gathered in Helsinki for a concert and a huge fireworks display to celebrate the beginning of festivities marking its independence.

      Throughout 2017 there will be hundreds of events in the Nordic nation of 5.5 million, from films, dance parties and environment-related events to concerts and activities linked to its renowned sauna tradition.

      Finland shares an 1,300-kilometre border with Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday congratulated Finland for its centenary in a phone conversation with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto.

      In Helsinki, Finland, New Year's Eve festivities kicked off celebrations for 100 years of independence for the Nordic nation. (Jussi Nukari/Reuters)

      Australia

      After a year that saw the deaths of a seemingly endless parade of entertainers, Sydney honoured some of the most beloved. The city's famed fireworks display over the harbour paid homage to Prince and David Bowie, and was set to a music medley inspired by the late singers.

      Fireworks explode over the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge as Australia ushers in the new year. (Jason Reed/Reuters)

      "We are hoping to make it rain purple this year for the first time, not only off the barges, but also off the Sydney Harbour Bridge," fireworks director Fortunato Forti said ahead of the celebrations, referencing Prince's hit Purple Rain.

      The seven tonnes of fireworks launched from barges on the harbor also included a "Willy Wonka moment" in tribute to the late actor Gene Wilder's most famous role, fireworks co-producer Catherine Flanagan said. And there was a nod to the Bowie classic Space Oddity, with Saturn, moon and star-shaped fireworks. Bowie lived in Sydney for about 10 years during the 1980s and '90s.

      "This year, sadly, we saw the loss of many music and entertainment legends around the world," Flanagan said. "So celebrating their music as part of Sydney New Year's Eve fireworks displays is an opportunity to reflect on the year that has been and what the future may hold."

      Charlotte Kent from Huddersfield in England wears glowing glasses and a headset for 2017 before watching the New Year's Eve fireworks in Sydney, Australia, December 31, 2016. (Jason Reed/Reuters)

      Around 1.5 million revellers gathered in the harbour to join in the festivities. An extra 2,000 police were on duty and buses were used to block off certain pedestrian areas following the deadly truck-driving attacks in Berlin and Nice, France.

      Officials urged residents to carry on celebrating as normal, despite the threats of extremist attacks across the globe and in Australia. On Friday, a man was arrested after police say he posted threats on social media related to Sydney's New Year's Eve celebrations. New South Wales police said he was acting in isolation and had no known links to extremist groups.

      United Arab Emirates 

      In Dubai, hundreds of thousands of people watched as fireworks shot from the sides of the world's tallest building, the 828-metre Burj Khalifa. The show was also streamed live online.

      Last year's excitement was marred by a fire caused by faulty wiring several hours before midnight at The Address Downtown, a 63-storey skyscraper nearby. The high-rise tower still remains under repair.

      Fireworks explode from the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest tower, in Dubai. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

      China

      Residents in Beijing and Shanghai, China's two largest cities, passed New Year's Eve in a state of security lockdown, according to Chinese media reports citing police.

      The Bund waterfront in Shanghai would not have any celebrations, authorities announced this week, while the sale, use and transportation of fireworks in central Shanghai was prohibited altogether. Large buildings that often display light shows also stayed dark.

      People pose for pictures as they attend a New Year's Eve countdown event in Beijing. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

      More than 30 people died two years ago in a deadly stampede on Shanghai's waterfront, where 300,000 people had gathered to watch a planned light show.

      Beijing police also said countdowns, lightshows, lotteries and other organized activities would not be held in popular shopping districts such as Sanlitun and Guomao.

      North and South Korea

      Kim Il-sung Square in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, was the scene of a fireworks display to ring in the new year.

      To the south, hundreds of thousands of South Koreans ushered in the new year with a massive protest demanding the resignation of disgraced President Park Geun-hye. It was the 10th straight weekend of protests that led to Park's impeachment on Dec. 9 over a corruption scandal.

      Even on New Year's Eve, large crowds of South Koreans gathered to join another rally in Seoul demanding the ouster of impeached President Park Geun-hye, who's determined to restore her powers through a court trial. The letters read 'Asking.' (Ahn Young-joon/Associated Press)

      The evening rally overlapped with Seoul's traditional bell-tolling ceremony at the Bosinkgak pavilion at midnight.

      "So many unbelievable things happened in 2016. It didn't feel real; if felt like a movie," protester Lee Huymi said about the bizarre scandal that brought Park down. "So I hope 2017 brings a movie-like ending to the mess. Everything getting solved, quickly and all at once, leaving us all happy."

      India

      For most people in India, New Year's Eve is a time for family. In New Delhi and many other cities, newspapers are full of big advertisements for lavish parties at upscale hotels and restaurants. The big draws at the hotel parties were song and dance performances from Bollywood and television stars.

      A man gets a haircut with the number '2017' to welcome the new year at a barbershop in Ahmedabad, India. (Amit Dave/Reuters)

      Police with breath analyzers checked for drunk driving, and security was tightened in malls and restaurants.

      The western city of Mumbai hosted big street parties with thousands of people at the iconic Gateway of India, a colonial-era structure on the waterfront overlooking the Arabian Sea. There was music, as well as dancing and the occasional fireworks.

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          With files from CBC News and The Canadian Press

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