Sydney’s ‘thermonuclear’ 2012 launch

The big one ... Sydney excells at New Year's Eve spectaculars

Jonathan Porter

When the clocks tick over to 2012 – possibly the last year any of us get – the first major global city in line to set its calendar to the New Year will be Sydney.

The harbor city is gearing up for a display that would appease the most spiteful Mayan god, with a display of thermonuclear proportions – a social media app, a chance to give to the starving in East Africa – there’s even an audio commentary for the visually impaired.

By the way I don’t think the world will end in 2012 – and if it turns out the Big Guy Upstairs is rolling down the curtain on Earth I’m prepared to admit “I was wroooooooooooooong!’’ as we all fly off into space.

But back to the fireworks, or crackers, as the Australians call them.

After a night of festivities on the harbor, 2012 will be kicked off with a 12-minute show featuring just under a tenth of a kiloton of explosive devices, including around 11,000 shells, 20,000 shooting comets and 100,000 pyrotechnic effects fired from barges, city rooftops and the Sydney Harbor Bridge.

The New Year’s theme for the harbor city is Australian designer Marc Newson’s brainchild “Time to Dream”.

Newson’s theme encapsulates Sydneysiders’ endless spectrum of hopes and aspirations and he asks them to think about what their dreams are for the New Year.

‘’Sydney is the New Year’s Eve capital of the world and the reason for that is the creativity and talent we harness and the magical Harbor setting where the fireworks and pre-show entertainment takes place,‘’ Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

‘’There could not be a more fitting place and time than Sydney Harbor on New Year’s Eve for people to dream of their plans, hopes and aspirations for 2012.“

Newson, who is working with creative agency, Imagination Australia, said there was a lot to look forward to in 2012.

“I dream that the year ahead will bring peace and prosperity and will allow us all the luxury of pursuing our dreams for a better future and a better world,’’ Newson said.

The revamped 2011 Sydney New Year’s Eve website includes detailed information about the 9pm and midnight fireworks, which attract about 1.5 million people to the harbor and are viewed by an estimated 1 billion people around the world.

This year’s theme will be illustrated by a four-coloured ‘’endless rainbow’’ logo designed by Newson in his signature minimalist style, which features on the website and will also appear on banners, bus-stops and buses around the city, as the clock inches closer to New Year’s Eve.

The endless rainbow represents the broad range of people from different cultures, backgrounds and demographics who come together in Sydney on New Year’s Eve.

The rainbow includes violet to represent community, peace, social stability and connectedness; blue to symbolise the harbor, sky and future aspirations; green for the environment, nurturing and growing; and yellow, which epitomises optimism, happiness and a sunny attitude, a spokeswoman for the Lord Mayor’s office said.

The Time to Dream-themed website, also includes maps showing the best vantage points for watching the fireworks, as well as transport and accommodation information so visitors to the city can plan their night.

As people being to gather around Sydney Harbor’s extensive foreshores,there will be aerial displays by flying ace Matt Hall to thrill and entertain from 6 pm..

At 7pm the Ted Noffs fire tug will arrive and blast tonnes of water into the skies, creating its own ‘’dream rainbow’’ in the setting sun.

8pm – 2am: Projections on Sydney Harbor Bridge Pylons

Images and digital animations will be projected on to the north and south pylons of the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Among the projections, the words, ‘Welcome to Sydney’, will appear in 16 languages, including English, Gadigal, Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, French, Hindi, Indonesian, Greek, Italian, Swahili, Korean, Russian, Samoan, Spanish, Thai and Vietnamese, to represent Sydney’s top migrant populations and tourist visitors for the event.

Watch the Sydney Harbor Bridge pylons closely for a unique countdown to the Midnight Fireworks.

8pm – 8:40pm: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Smoking Ceremony

Smoke in the four colours of the NYE theme – violet, blue, green, yellow – emerges and flows across the waters from three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander vessels, Silver Spray, Tribal Warrior and Mari Nawi. These vessels will conduct the ceremony to cleanse Sydney Harbor of negative spirits.

The ceremony concludes with daytime pyrotechnics and traditional eucalyptus smoke, cleansing the past and readying everyone for a year ahead in which dreams may be fulfilled.

8:40pm – 8:45pm: Acknowledgement of Country

Following the indigenous Smoking Ceremony, an Acknowledgment of Country will be held on the harbor to show respect to the traditional custodians of the land and sea, the Gadigal people of the Eora nation and all First Nations people.

9pm – 9:08pm: Family Fireworks

The 9pm Family Fireworks display is a beautifully choreographed eight minute pyrotechnic performance from four barges on Sydney Harbor, seven city building rooftops and the Sydney Harbor Bridge. The fireworks display is synchronised to an exciting mix of children’s movie soundtracks, pop songs and classical music. Be dazzled by dozens of different fireworks, including colourful ‘cloud shells’ and ‘quadrant shells’, as well as the ‘waterfall’ that will tumble from the Sydney Harbor Bridge.

9:08pm – 11:30pm: Harbor of Light Parade

This year’s Harbor of Light Parade will be the biggest yet with 55 vessels sailing around the harbor.

11:59:50pm- 00:12am: Midnight finale and Bridge Effect

The big one … Sydney excels at New Year’s Eve spectaculars

The Midnight Fireworks is the largest and most technologically advanced annual fireworks spectacular in the world and attracts an international audience.

The big question this year is what Newson will have in store for the highly anticipated bridge effect, which marks the finale of the show.

For a safe and enjoyable Sydney New Year’s Eve 2011, visit and:

• Pick a vantage point and be aware that popular areas fill up quickly.

• Plan ahead if you’re heading to the Harbor foreshore and take public transport.

• Remember not to take glass to the event and place rubbish into bins provided.

• To get the full multimedia Sydney New Year’s Eve experience, tune your radio to 104.1 2Day FM to hear the synchronised fireworks soundtracks.

The New Year’s Eve Midnight Fireworks will “go off” to an all Australian soundtrack – for the first time in Sydney New Year’s Eve history.

The 12-minute mix of home-grown tunes includes songs by Aussie drum’n’bass band Pendulum, 1980s new-wave rockers The Swingers, ARIA Award-winning Aboriginal artist Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, as well as established Australian acts INXS and AC/DC.

The 24 contemporary Australian artists on the Midnight Fireworks soundtrack include numerous emerging independent acts that will be heard by a NYE11 audience of more than one billion people.

Curated by the City’s NYE11 Musical Directors, ARIA award winning musicians Josh Abrahams and Davide Carbone, the soundtrack aims to lift the profile of Australian music via a popular, world-renowned event.

Meanwhile, the City of Sydney has produced its first New Year’s Eve anthem, We Are The Light, to raise money for international humanitarian aid organisation CARE Australia.

The uplifting original pop song about the importance of future hopes and dreams is available for download from the iTunes store, with all proceeds going to the 2011 Sydney New Year’s Eve charity partner.

We Are The Light was composed by Nick Wood from music production company SYN, which was established in 1998 with Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon and his wife, Yasmin Le Bon.

The song features Sydney’s Joe Pringle from US band Neon Hymns, former Adelaide resident Liz Bojanic, Cut Snake drummer Alex Carapetis, and choral back-up by the Sydney Children’s Choir.

Ms Moore said she hoped the anthem would help raise urgently needed funds for people who are starving in East Africa.

“East Africa is gripped by the worst famine in a generation and more than 13 million people, mostly women and children, need help,” the Lord Mayor said.

“This song was written to get people thinking about the future, but by working with CARE Australia it’s helping people in East Africa right now.”

“Sydneysiders have donated almost $75,000 since my East Africa Food Crisis Appeal kicked off last month with a $100,000 donation from the City – with the Federal Government matching donations, that’s almost $250,000 raised so far.”

“Please download this song and do your bit to help those most in need.”

The City of Sydney has launched a new iPhone App to encourage people to capture a 12-second video from their 2011 New Year’s Eve celebrations for inclusion in a short film to mark Australia’s biggest event of the year.

The free App allows users to edit and upload a 12-second video which will then be edited into a short film and distributed online within hours through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. People are also encouraged to share their dreams for 2012 in eight words or less.

The App includes an interactive map of the best vantage points for the 9pm Family Fireworks and Midnight Fireworks Displays, information about events happening around the city, tips on how to plan the night and easy entry to a NYE photo competition.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the City recognised it was important to provide quick and easy ways for people to access information.

“An increasing number of people use smart phones and rely on Apps to find information and interact with each other. As a council we want to make sure we are providing the information that people need in the way they want to receive it,” the Lord Mayor said.

“Our App gives users real time notifications of vantage points, road closures and events. People can also find out about crowd capacities, ensuring a safe and great night out.”

The initiative is part of a Tourism Australia and City of Sydney joint venture called Project :12 to promote Sydney to the world.

Andrew McEvoy, Managing Director, Tourism Australia said he was always looking for new and different ways to demonstrate why there’s no other country like Australia.

“Project:12 allows us to do just that – in this case, by showcasing New Year’s Eve in Sydney. Using popular social media platforms, the content captured in this short film will be distributed globally and allow people to share in one of world’s most spectacular New Year celebrations,” Mr McEvoy said.

The City is also hosting a photo competition, people can enter by uploading photos from the night via the App or the City’s website. The winner will receive:

• A new camera;

• $200 JB HiFi voucher;

• $200 worth of music CDs; and

• Two VIP tickets to the 2012 Sydney New Year’s Eve Dawe’s Point Viewing Area.

And finally more than 300,000 Australians who are visually impaired can now enjoy the fireworks with the launch of the first ever audio commentary of the amazing event.
The City of Sydney, in collaboration with 2Day FM, has established a special Digital Radio Plus station, NYE2011, which will broadcast a commentary of the two world-class NYE fireworks displays on December 31.
The commentary will be narrated by NYE Fireworks Director Fortunato Foti and will include insights into the visual impact of the explosives as well as personal stories from a seventh-generation pyrotechnician.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP said one in five people in NSW are living with visual impairments and the City is committed to producing events that are open and accessible to everyone.
“Sydney New Year’s Eve is the biggest event in Australia, attracting 1.5 million people to the Harbour Foreshore, while 2.6 million people across the country watch the fireworks on their televisions at home,’’ Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP said.
“The City is continually looking at ways to make this world-class event accessible to everyone in the community, which is why we have established the NYE2011 digital radio station and commentary.
“We want to ensure that people with visual impairments have the chance to appreciate the excitement and wonder that our celebrations inspire.”
NYE11 Fireworks Director Fortunato Foti said narrating the eight-minute 9PM Family Fireworks and the 12-minute Midnight Fireworks was all about evoking the mood that each colourful display creates.
“We choreograph the fireworks months before the event and we don’t actually see them until everyone else does, so it’s pretty much in our imagination until the day,’’ Mr Foti said.
“A lot of fireworks are based on flowers, such as dahlias, peonies and chrysanthemums and then there are three colour ranges: the classic colours, the pastel palette and then the glittering ones.
We’re creating a cultural and creative City with
world class events like Sydney New Year’s Eve

“But it won’t just be a literal description of the fireworks, it will be about the mood that has been created with colours for each segment and I’m also going to talk a bit about the family history and the history of fireworks.”
The Foti family has a rich tradition of pyrotechnology and began mixing gunpowder and chemicals in 18th-century Italy.
The family, now based at Leppington, in Sydney’s south west, has been creating the Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks displays since 1997.
According to the 2006 Census, 300,000 Australians are living with vision impairment and that number is expected to double by 2020.
People who are visually impaired who don’t own a digital radio should visit for more information.


Share this article