Fireworks in Sydney, ball drop in NY ring in 2011

Gallery: New Zealand welcomes 2011; fireworks light up Australia's skies; Japanese offer final prayers for 2010.

January 1, 2011 09:03
1 minute read.

New Years Malaysia 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

NEW YORK — Nearly a million revelers crowded New York's Time Square to witness the traditional dazzling ball drop, fireworks lit up Australia's Sydney Harbor and communist Vietnam held a rare Western-style countdown to the new year as the world ushered in 2011.

In Europe, Greeks, Irish and Spaniards partied through the night to help put a year of economic woe behind them, and Japanese revelers released balloons carrying notes with people's hopes and dreams.

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In New York, a crystal ball with 32,000 lights descended at midnight, setting off a wild and noisy confetti-filled New Year's celebration — the country's largest — at the crossroads of the world. And it all happened just days after a debilitating blizzard paralyzed the city and the surrounding area.

New Zealanders and South Pacific island nations were among the first to celebrate at midnight. In New Zealand's Auckland, explosions of red, gold and white burst over the Sky Tower, while tens of thousands of people danced and sang in the streets below. In Christchurch, partyers shrugged off a minor earthquake that struck just before 10 p.m.

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