Sydney celebrations don't disappoint

Fireworks explode over and around the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House during new year celebrations. REUTERS/David Gray
Fireworks explode over and around the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House during new year celebrations. REUTERS/David Gray

It's the party that starts the world's New Year celebrations and Sydney didn't disappoint yet again.

As one of the first major cities in the world to welcome in 2013, Sydney has set the standard. Just ask the millions who watched the spectacular display both in person and on the television.

On a warm summer night, an estimated 1.5 million people poured into the city to watch the $6.6 million fireworks display light up the sky - twice - from the harbour foreshore, at Darling Harbour and other vantage points with the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge playing a major part.

Pop princess Kylie Minogue, the event's creative ambassador who chose the theme of Embrace for the celebrations, started the midnight show with the press of a button.

A giant set of red lips in the middle of the harbour bridge counted down to midnight, before the fireworks set off.

A one-of-a-kind sparkling semiquaver - to honour Kylie's 25 years in music - was one of 100,000 individual pyrotechnic creations this year, including brand new koala, octopus and hand images up in lights.

Sydney's skyline exploded in gold, pink, green and blue first at 9pm for the family-oriented curtain raiser and again at midnight.

Colours streamed from four barges situated around the harbour, with gold flashes cascading like tinsel as a gold butterfly-like design lit up the bridge.

"It was all great, amazing," said Lee Whittaker, from Denistone, who brought her kids Mel and Leon with her.

And there are plenty of tourists who come especially for the event.

American Melissa Sjostedt said she had wanted to see the fireworks on the bridge since reading about it in National Geographic 10 years ago.

"Ever since that I've always wanted to see this for real, live, in person," the 30-year-old from Florida told AAP from Dawes Point Reserve.

Mathieu Herman, 30, from New York City, said he'd made the trip to Australia specifically for New Year's Eve.

"I saw it last year on TV and it looked fabulous. I said to myself 'it's something I've just got to do'."

Across the rest of the country, other major cities hosted their own fireworks displays and parties.

More than half a million people filled the Melbourne city centre with live sites at Treasury Gardens, Flagstaff Gardens and the Docklands.

Throughout the evening, free concert at Federation Square had tens of thousands dancing away the remaining hours of 2012.

Irish sisters Emma and Sophie O'Dowd said they couldn't resist the lure of the New Year's lights and sounds, stopping at Yarra Park to see the fireworks light up the MCG on their way to a dance party.

"It's what it's all about. What a beautiful stage you've got here," Sophie, 22, said.

Surfers Paradise hosted one of Queensland's biggest New Year's Eve fireworks displays, with thousands catching a preview at the 9pm (AEST) show.

Organisers went with a superheroes theme for this year's family party, hoping to encourage children to attend as their favourite superhero and several little Spidermen and Supermen could be seen among the crowd.

In Brisbane, crowds were slightly down at South Bank, but there was still plenty of cheer as revellers waited to welcome in midnight.

Perth is partying through a heatwave, while Adelaide tried to encourage less alcohol and more family-friendly events.

Hobart hosted thousands in town for the Sydney to Hobart yacht race and Tasmania's biggest event, The Taste Festival near Salamanca Place.

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