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Rain fails to dampen spirits as Singapore welcomes 2016

SINGAPORE - Excited party-goers filled the Marina Bay area in anticipation of the nation's largest countdown celebration and they were not disappointed. 

Despite intermittent rain since afternoon, the grey overcast sky cleared just in time for the magic hour.

As the initial sparks illuminated the city in shades of gold, red and green, the sea of revellers gasped in unison, as many whipped out their cameras to capture the moment.

 
 

Said housewife Liza Ali, 26: "The fireworks are a special treat for my eldest daughter because her birthday is on Jan 1. For the past six years, we've caught them every year from different places around Marina Bay. We'll usually sing her a birthday song after that."

She welcomed 2016 in the company of 11 family members, comprising her husband and their three children, and also with her brother and his wife, along with their five children.

Similarly, 14-year-old Daryl Ng braved the bouts of drizzle with his family: "I used to watch the fireworks from home but this year, I wanted to experience it live."

Together with his parents and sister, they wore colourful light sticks around their necks and arms.

"It's a time to celebrate with my family. And going into the new year, it reminds me that family is important."

Around 300,000 people attended the Marina Bay Singapore Countdown celebrations this year, according to the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

The celebrations included all the events that happened around the Marina Bay Area, including Mediacorp's Celebrate 2016, the Celebrate December concert, food trucks at promontory, and spectators standing all around the Marina Bay waterfront enjoying the fireworks and projection show on Fullerton Hotel's facade.

As of 10.30pm, the Esplanade promenade and Jubilee Bridge were completely packed. Thousands of revellers continued spilling into the various venues, with many taking shelter under umbrellas and ponchos under the drizzle.

 

Armed with picnic mats, ponchos and cameras, many lined various vantage points as early as 3pm, hoping to secure the best view of the fireworks display.

One of them was 53-year-old Francis Chia, a photography enthusiast. "It's a special occasion today and it marks the end of our Golden Jubilee year. I heard (the fireworks) were going to be unique, so I came here at 3pm to set up my camera early for the best spot," he said.

While the Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade and Merlion Park proved to be popular spots once again, groups were also seen stretching across the Bay's newest Jubilee Bridge.

 

"This is my first countdown in Singapore and I'm really excited to be here with my friends. We've got some wine and snacks to last us till the fireworks. It's going to be amazing," said Australian management consultant Amee Reeves, 24.

Other offerings in the bay area included a light projection show on The Fullerton Hotel's facade and a waterfront bazaar.

 

Over the years, the celebrations have drawn revellers from here and overseas, including Indonesian visitor Alfian Gani, who was partying at his 10th Marina Bay countdown event in a row.

"I really love the happy atmosphere at the bay, especially when we start counting down and the crowds go crazy. I love how the fireworks are accompanied with grand music," said the 25-year-old banker. He first joined in the festivities in 2006, while he was in Singapore alone for a holiday.

When asked if the persistent rain had dampened his spirits, the self-confessed "biggest fan of Singapore" said: "No way, the show will go on!"

At the stroke of midnight,some 4,000 fireworks were launched into the night sky in a dazzling array of colours.

For the first time this year, the 200m high pyrotechnics display stretched across the length of the entire Marina Bay, synchronised to an original composition by young music director Julian Wong.

The display lasted a total of eight minutes, as several buildings in the district joined in the dance of colours with festive themed lighting.

 

Celebrations were held islandwide.

At the Countdown @ North party in Woodlands, residents got up on their feet for a zumba workout with neighbours and friends.

Some 8,000 of them were entertained by local celebrities such as Hossan Leong and singer Sufie Rashid, with a 10-minute fireworks display set to be the finale.

Over at Bedok, families shared an intimate celebration as they bonded over nostalgic carnival activities. Some 3,000 residents were treated to variety performances through the evening.

Meanwhile, revellers partied at venues such as Siloso Beach and iconic nightclub Zouk, which was holding its final countdown at its Jiak Kim Street premises before moving to Clarke Quay in the new year.