© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A person in protective face mask walks along the harbour waterfront across from the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia, October 6, 2021. REUTERS/Loren Elliott
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia is gearing up to celebrate its first restriction-free New Year’s Eve after two years of COVID disruptions, with more than a million revellers expected to flock to Sydney’s harbourfront and watch an elaborate fireworks display.
Sydney is one of the world’s first major cities to welcome in the New Year and draws huge TV audiences around the world, with a public countdown and fireworks display over its iconic Opera (NASDAQ:) House.
Lockdowns at the end of 2020 and a surge in Omicron cases at the end of 2021 led to crowd restrictions and reduced festivities. However, curbs on celebrations have been lifted this year after Australia, like many countries around the world, re-opened its borders and removed social distancing restrictions.
“This New Year’s Eve we are saying Sydney is back as we kick off festivities around the world and bring in the New Year with a bang,” Clover Moore, Lord Mayor of Sydney, said.
“2022 has been another year of significant challenges as we continued working to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, but tonight we put the year behind us and look with hope to 2023.”
A rainbow of colour will light up Sydney Harbour, with 2,000 fireworks to be launched from the four sails of the Sydney Opera House and 7,000 fireworks from more positions on the Sydney Harbour Bridge than ever before.
For the first time in 12 years, fireworks will be launched from four building rooftops to frame the spectacular show, the organisers said.
Prior to the pandemic, over a million people would join the festivities on the ground in Sydney as a billion spectators tuned in from other parts of the world.