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On December 31, 2021, the world happily bid farewell to yet another year of COVID uncertainties and welcomed 2022 with high hopes. The celebrations were scaled back, or in some cases even canceled, due to the rapid spread of the new coronavirus variant, Omicron. However, the variant's milder symptoms and lower fatality rates has renewed optimism that the pandemic would soon be behind us. Here are some of this year's most spectacular fireworks displays from around the world.
Sydney, Australia, one of the first major cities on Earth to welcome the New Year, always stages two fireworks shows. The first, a family-friendly display for those with young children, takes place at 9:00 pm local time. The second, more elaborate, show — broadcast live internationally to an eager audience of over a billion people — occurs at midnight local time.
This year's dazzling spectacle included 25,000 shooting effects, blasted from the top, facade, and sides of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and 9,000 aerial shells launched off five floating barges. The mesmerizing scene was augmented by 6,000 colorful fireworks erupting from the tops of the Sydney Opera House sails.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE)
The federation of seven states that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE) boast an astounding 425 Guinness World Records between them. On December 31, 2021, the Western Asian country celebrated the 50th year of its formation by clinching five additional titles — all for innovative fireworks displays.
Ras Al Khaimah, UAE
Ras Al Khaimah's 12-minute pyrotechnic drone display that included over 15,000 fireworks effects and spanned an area of about 3 miles (4.7 kilometers) was responsible for two of the five Guinness World Records. The first title, "Highest Altitude Multirotor/Drone Fireworks Display," was for launching a 3,461-foot-high (1,055.8 meter) tower of fireworks. To put it in perspective, this is 656 feet (200 meters) higher than the world's tallest building — Dubai's Burj Khalifa!
The second title was for the "Most Remote Operated Multirotors/Drones Launching Fireworks Simultaneously." It was clinched by the 452 drones that worked in synch to launch the fireworks forming the 'Happy New Year' visual in the sky.
Abu Dhabi, UAE
Abu Dhabi's dazzling fireworks show, which lasted almost 40 minutes, added to the haul with three world records — for volume, duration, and form. The New Year's Eve celebrations also included a first-of-its-kind 10-minute display featuring 2,022 drones.
In London, Big Ben's deep, thundering sounds helped ring in the New Year for the first time in four years. The bell of the iconic 320-foot-tall clock tower had been silent since 2017, due to a major renovation. The countdown was followed by a 13-minute display featuring fireworks, a light show, and drones.