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The Final Countdown

NYE: 2017 begins in Australia, Japan and Hong Kong

Countries around the world ramped up security efforts following terror attacks this year at public events.

Hong Kong New Year Fireworks explode over Victoria Harbour to celebrate the New Year's Eve in Hong Kong. Vincent Yu Vincent Yu

Updated 8pm

WE’RE ONLY FOUR hours away from 2017 in Ireland. Meanwhile, other countries have already rang in the New Year.

With people eager to see the back of a year that had a higher than average number of celebrity deaths, some unusual political results and terror attacks across Europe, this New Year’s Eve seems particularly anticipated.

Australia celebrated the arrival of 2017 at 1pm today, while Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, small parts of Russia and Indonesia followed suit.

Japan New Years Bubbles float over visitors during a New Year's Eve celebration event a Tokyo Hotel. Koji Sasahara Koji Sasahara

Elsewhere, increased security measures at public spaces are a reminder of this year’s more troubling events.


Global terror attacks have cast a pall over 2016 but Australians are defying the threats today as bumper crowds gathered to watch a New Year firework extravaganza on Sydney’s glittering harbour.

Australia New Year's Eve Rick Rycroft Rick Rycroft

2016 has seen repeated bloodshed, most recently a deadly truck attack at a Berlin Christmas market, a similar incident on Bastille Day in France that killed 86, and atrocities in Turkey and the Middle East.

Some 1.5 million people gathered in Australia’s biggest city to watch the midnight fireworks, a larger-than-usual crowd due to the weekend timing and warm weather, as the New South Wales state premier urged “business as usual”.

“My encouragement to everyone is to enjoy New Year’s Eve… in the knowledge that police are doing everything they can to keep us safe,” Premier Mike Baird said.

Australia New Year's Eve Rick Rycroft Rick Rycroft

The visual extravaganza paid tribute to some of the international musical legends who died this year, including David Bowie and Prince, with purple rain pouring off the Sydney Harbour Bridge in an early fireworks display.

Some 2,000 extra officers were deployed in Sydney after a man was arrested for allegedly making online threats against the celebrations. In Melbourne, police foiled a “significant” Islamic State-inspired Christmas Day terror plot.

Terror threats in Asia

South Korea Politics Protesters hold signs and candles during a New Year's Eve rally demanding the resignation of South Korean President Park Geun-hye in Seoul, South Korea. Lee Jin-man Lee Jin-man

Indonesia said it foiled plans by an IS-linked group for a Christmas-time suicide bombing, and 52 died in the Philippines in bomb attacks blamed on Islamist militants.

Yesterday, Israel issued a warning of imminent “terrorist attacks” to tourists and western targets in India.

Despite the terror fears, revellers in Hong Kong and Taipei were expected to throng city streets to watch firework performances.

In Japan, shoppers filled markets to buy tuna and crabs – seen as expensive items for special feasts – for New Year’s Day family gatherings.

Truck blockades

New Year 2017 celebrations People walk through temporary security barriers placed on Victoria Street in central London. PA Wire / PA Images PA Wire / PA Images / PA Images

Security concerns have hit many New Year events with truck blockades a new tactic to try to prevent vehicles ploughing into crowds, with Sydney using garbage trucks.

The German capital has beefed up security after the 19 December carnage, deploying more police, some armed with machine-guns.

“This year, what’s new is that we will place concrete blocks and position heavy armoured vehicles at the entrances” to the zone around Brandenburg Gate, a police spokesman said.

North Korea New Years North Koreans gather to watch a New Year's fireworks display at the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea. Kim Kwang Hyon Kim Kwang Hyon

In Paris, there will be a firework display again, after muted 2015 celebrations following the massacre of 130 people.

Nearly 100,000 police, gendarmes and soldiers will be deployed across France against the jihadist threat.

South Korea New Year Eve Ahn Young joon Ahn Young joon

With more than a million people expected to turn out to watch the ball drop in Times Square, New York is deploying 165 “blocker” trucks and some 7,000 police.

Rome has deployed armoured vehicles and greater numbers of security forces around the Coliseum and St Peter’s Square, where Pope Francis will celebrate a “Te Deum” hymn of thanksgiving.

Moscow police will deploy more than 5,000 officers backed by thousands more from the new national guard and volunteer militia to maintain order.

Thousands traditionally gather in Red Square, but for the second year in a row, the area will be open solely to 6,000 invitees.

London will have 3,000 officers on patrol with crowds flocking to line the banks of the Thames to watch the fireworks.

Up to two million people are expected to party at Rio‘s Copacabana beach. But with Brazil mired in its worst recession in a century, the fireworks have been cut to just 12 minutes.

Normally boisterous Bangkok will see in the new year on a more sombre note as the nation grieves for King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died in October.

Meanwhile, here in Ireland the celebrations are already kicking off.

Fidget Feet have been performing over the River Liffey at the Customs House in Dublin this evening.

.  Fidget Feet perform over

.  Fidget Feet perform on t Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

.  Fidget Feet perform over Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

Don’t forget, at the stroke of midnight, the celebrations will last one second longer – a leap second – decreed by the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service to allow astronomical time to catch up with atomic clocks that have called the hour since 1967.

Happy New Year from all here at

Read: Here is what’s happening around the country to ring in the New Year

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