New Year Begins in Asia With Fireworks, Sydney Pays Tribute to Fallen Icons

Alastair Jamieson, Erik Ortiz and Andy Eckardt
The numerals '17' are lit up in Times Square ahead of the New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square, December 15, 2016 in New York City.
Drew Angerer | Getty Images

Revelers rung in 2017 across the Asia-Pacific region with dazzling fireworks displays at midnight, draping city skylines from Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur with sparkling bursts of color.

Sydney used its New Year's Eve showstopper to say farewell to 2016's fallen icons, honoring the late singer David Bowie and late actor Gene Wilder, and become the first major city to bid a bittersweet adieu to a turbulent year.

The glittering festivities over Sydney's famed harbor and bridge featured Saturn and star-shaped fireworks set to "Space Oddity," the classic song by Bowie — one of the seemingly endless parade of beloved entertainers who died in 2016.

Wilder was also honored as the bridge lit up in a rainbow of colors while a song from Wilder's famed film "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" played.

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"This year, sadly, we saw the loss of many music and entertainment legends around the world," fireworks show co-producer Catherine Flanagan said. "So celebrating their music as part of Sydney New Year's Eve fireworks displays is an opportunity to reflect on the year that has been and what the future may hold."

In the U.S., more than 300,000 visitors are expected to descend on Las Vegas for an extravagant New Year's Eve celebration.

Nightclubs are pulling out all the stops with performances from DJ Calvin Harris, rappers T-Pain and Kendrick Lamar and artists Drake and Bruno Mars. The city's celebrity chefs have crafted elaborate prix fixe menus complete with caviar and champagne toasts.

An eight-minute fireworks show will kick off at the stroke of midnight, with rockets launching from the tops of half a dozen casinos.

Federal officials have ranked the celebration just below the Super Bowl and on par with the festivities in Times Square. FBI and Secret Service agents will work alongside local police departments that are putting all hands on deck for the big night.

Germany, which was rocked by a Christmas attack claimed by ISIS that killed 12 in Berlin, have also warned of tight security.

Berlin police tweeted a message Saturday that security measures will include shutting down the regional commuter train station at Brandenburg Gate.

Just hours before the new year, waiting times at checkpoints and access points to the fenced-in "Party Mile," where Berliners gather outdoors to celebrate the holiday with food and music, were about 15 to 20 minutes due to increased security checks.

More than 530 miles to the west, the city of Cologne, which experienced hundreds of cases of sexual assault during last year's celebrations, started posting messages on Facebook to reassure visitors that the city is safe.