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NEW YEAR

Europe parties ring in New Year despite terror jitters

Millions of people around the world shrugged off terror jitters to ring in 2017 in style.

Europe parties ring in New Year despite terror jitters
Revellers celebrate at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, undeterred by a terror attack on December 19. Photo: Odd Andersen/ AFP
Revellers crammed into major cities across Europe to celebrate New Year with security tightened amid fears large crowds of people could present a target for extremists.
 
Celebrations swung into Europe with the night sky over Moscow's Red Square literally painted red by the fireworks.
 
In Berlin, revellers seemed undeterred by the deadly attack on a Berlin Christmas market on December 19,  as they gathered under a freezing Berlin sky for a series of concerts and a large midnight fireworks display over the Brandenburg Gate. 
 
 
Nearly 500,000 people gathered on Paris's famous Champs-Elysees, where the Arc de Triomphe was lit up with a colourful countdown to 2017 and the word “welcome” in dozens of languages.
 
   
The raucous celebrations drew to an end a year of political shocks, led by Britain's vote to leave the European Union. It has also been a year of celebrity deaths from David Bowie to Prince and Mohammed Ali. 2016 was also a year of bloodshed and misery that has seen the war in Syria, Europe's migrant crisis and numerous terror attacks dominate the headlines.
 
The German capital beefed up security, deploying extra 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, said a police spokesman.
   
In Paris, nearly 100,000 police, gendarmes and soldiers will be deployed across France against the jihadist threat and President Francois Hollande inspected the security measures on the Champs-Elysees.
 
But fireworks returned to the French capital, after muted 2015 celebrations following the massacre of 130 people by jihadists.   
 
 
Brussels also reinstated its fireworks show after last year's was cancelled at the last minute due to a terrorist threat, with large crowds gathering in De Brouckere square. 
 
 
In Stockholm crowds gathered on the north side of Södermalm to watch the fireworks over Djurgården
 
 
In Copenhagen, the main gathering point was central Rådhuspladsen. 
 
 
 
Rome stationed 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.¨
 
At the Coliseum, thousands set off their own fireworks filling the air with smoke and sparkles. 
 
 
 
 
In Barcelona, hundreds of thousands gathered in the city centre to ring in the New Year. 
 
 
They were greeted with a fantastic fireworks display. 
 
 
   
In Rome, earlier on Saturday, the pontiff held a mass at which he urged people to reflect on the plight of the young as the year drew to a close.
 
   
“We have created a culture that idolises youth… yet at the same time paradoxically we have condemned our young people to have no place in society,” he said.
   
At the stroke of midnight, there will be 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.
 
 
 

NEW YEAR

The best places to celebrate New Year’s Eve across Sweden in 2018

If you're in Sweden for New Year's Eve, there are plenty of places to celebrate in style, from firework displays to laser and light shows and activities for all the family. Here's our pick of the best events taking place across the country.

The best places to celebrate New Year's Eve across Sweden in 2018
Fireworks over Skeppsbron in central Stockholm, one of the country's most popular displays. Photo: Anders Wiklund / TT

Stockholm

The firework display in Sweden’s capital takes place in the water, in the area between the Royal Palace in Gamla Stan, the National Museum, and Skeppholmsbron.

The best views of the display are from Gamla Stan, along Skeppsbron, or in Blasieholmen, on Södra Blasieholmskajen. But there are many other good spots from which to watch the fireworks, such as along Strandvägen in Östermalm and Skeppsholmen. On Södermalm, try the cliffs around Slussen, Monteliusvägen, or for views of Kungsholmen and the City Hall, head west on Hornsgatan to Skinnarsviksberget, the highest natural point in inner Stockholm.

Photo: Anders Wiklund / TT

There are road closures and traffic restrictions in the area around the display, affecting parts of Gamla Stan and Blasieholmen. There is also a firework ban in effect within the traffic-free zone, which means that pedestrians are welcome to watch the fireworks from the area, but fireworks, firecrackers and paper lanterns are not allowed within the perimeter. Checks will be carried out at the entrances.

For a different experience in the capital, Skansen is open late on New Year’s Eve and offers a range of activities and entertainment. It also offers great views of the city (and all the various firework displays) from its hills. Entrance is 165 kronor for adults during the day (10am-4pm), and 160 kronor after 8pm.

Gothenburg

Local newspaper Göteborgs-Posten has been organizing a fireworks show every New Year’s Eve since 1982, and it is considered the biggest in Sweden. At 5pm, around 500 kg of fireworks are set off from Kvillepiren, in Frihamnen.

With clear weather, they are visible from as far as Masthuggskyrkan, but for a guaranteed view, head to the waterfront – places like the Opera House or the SVT building on Pumpgatan are good locations – or go uphill to Skansen Kronan or even the top of the Nordstan carpark.

READ ALSO: How to celebrate New Year's Eve like a Swede: six essential traditions

Photo: Stefan Isaksson/imagebank.sweden.se

Malmö

The main celebration in the southern city takes place in the square outside Malmö Opera, starting at 11:40pm. Get there much earlier for a good spot though. There will be music and the traditional countdown before midnight, when confetti rains down and the fireworks light up the sky.

If you have children, there is a dedicated party for the little ones at Stortorget, from 1pm to 5pm. It includes a theatre performance and a child-friendly fireworks display. This year, the theme for the Children’s New Year is Space.

Photo: Johan Nilsson / TT

Lund

Head to Lundagård for the midnight fireworks show by Lundapyrot, Lund’s pyrotechnic student organization. The best place to watch the fireworks, according to them, is in front of AF-borgen, house of The Academic Society in Lundagård, or the top of Helsingkronatornet. But the display should be visible from most of the university town.

Luleå

The celebration in Södra Hamnplan starts at 11:30pm, with food, drinks, and choir singing. After the countdown, fireworks go off at midnight from the water.

This year’s fireworks show will be a quiet display – with no bangs – and at a low altitude to reduce noise disturbance. 

Traffic restrictions also apply. For more information, see Luleå’s event page. There is free parking at Karpen on Sandviksgatan from 6pm on New Year’s Eve to 10pm on New Year’s Day.

Karlstad

Join the celebration and watch the fireworks from Sandgrundsudden at midnight, where you can watch the display on the banks of Sweden’s longest river, the Klarälven. 

Västerås

Last year, Västerås made headlines with an all-new New Year’s Eve celebration. The highlight was a 3-D film with reference to HBO’s series Game of Thrones and the city’s fictional namesake, Westeros.

This year, the event will again be at Fiskatorget, starting at 11:30pm. The main attraction will be a laser and fire show, with the countdown on the City Hall tower. There will be some fireworks at the end of the laser and fire presentation, but the city is aiming to reduce the use of fireworks.

Alternative shows

Some Swedish cities have decided not to put on fireworks displays on New Year’s Eve for animal welfare and environmental reasons, offering laser and light shows instead. Here are some family- and pet-friendly alternative celebrations throughout Sweden.

Boden

Boden is celebrating 100 years since it received city status on January 1st, 1919, making this year’s celebration even more special. The party starts at 3pm at Kvarnängen, offering activities for the whole family, including singing, dancing, and even a torch procession.

Linköping

Head to Borggården at 5pm for the city’s official party, packed with music and dance acts. The light show begins at 6pm, and will be projected on the façade of Linköping Castle.

The light show will continue to be displayed daily until January 3rd, from 5pm to 9pm.

Norrköping

Norrköping’s New Year Walk attracts over 40,000 people to the city each year. Starting at 4pm by the Moa Martinson statue on Grytstorget and ending at around 6:30pm at Tyska Torget, the walk takes you past music, art, entertainment, and food and drinks.

Although no fireworks show will take place, New Year’s Eve happens during the city’s Light Festival. In a partnership with Amsterdam Light Festival, it displays light and art installations from international artists around Norrköping. Daily, from November 30th to January 6th, 4pm-12am.

READ ALSO: Year in review: The biggest stories from Sweden in 2018

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