SINGAPORE - An impressive eight-minute fireworks display light up the sky as Singapore ushered in 2015 and its 50th birthday to a medley of classical and pop tunes.
Parties across the island were in full swing, with more than 25,000 revellers at the countdown extravaganza in The Float @ Marina Bay soaking in the performances of local pop star Stefanie Sun and Korean boyband Big Bang.
The night got off to a great start with performances by musical theatre favourites Dim Sum Dollies, who delivered an abridged tongue-in-cheek history of Singapore, and by The Noose cast, which warmed up the crowd with their local jokes, parody of foreign accents and 1970s-style bell-bottom pants.
Excited party-goers had started to fill the area as early as 5pm this evening. Photographers wanting to capture the fireworks show had readied their tripods along the Singapore river.
"I came early to make sure I could get the best shots of the fireworks," said 21-year-old Singapore Polytechnic student Zhang Ziyue, who came prepared for a six-hour wait for midnight with water, food, and even a poncho.
Other revellers, like Japanese tourists Mr Yoshi Adachi, 28, and Miss Hikaru Suzuki, 27, got into the celebratory mood with colourful wigs for the new year, and gamely posed for pictures with other party-goers.
"Only in Singapore can we wear the wigs, it's a special thing for tonight. The energy is very fun, very exciting. Japan is too quiet," said Miss Suzuki, laughing.
A light show, "Reflections Of Our Past, Present & Future", at the Fullerton Hotel was also one of the key highlights.
Posting a photo on Facebook he had taken of the Fullerton Hotel bathed in a light display depicting Samsui women, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote: "2015 is SG50, a time to reflect on how far we've come and give thanks for what we've achieved."
Mr Lee said in his post that he had visited Marina Bay on Tuesday night - a day before the actual countdown.
He joined some 12,000 residents at a countdown party in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park where revellers managed to set a new Guiness World Record for the 'Most People Wearing Balloon Hats'. They smashed a 2007 record of 4017 people, with close to 6,000 donning the hats.
Shortly after Mr Lee arrived at the park earlier, he wrote his wishes for SG50 -"happiness, prosperity, progress" - on a clay tablet. After it was hung up on stage, people inched forward to snap photos of his tablet.
When asked by host Bryan Wong about his wishes for SG50 in the new year, Mr Lee said: "We've come a long way in the last 50 years.We have a lot of room to grow still."
But even as the nation celebrates, he said, "we also remember sad things that have happened in the year, particularly the recent AirAsia accident and the victims and their families".
He added: "But we look forward, and we aim to make Singapore better. And let's work together. Let's overcome the challenges, and make sure, in 50 years time, we have a really special SG100."
Over at the Marina Bay Boardwalk, early birds were treated to a view of the sparkling skyline as friends and families gathered to wait for the new year.
"For me, the countdown isn't so much about the fireworks or the display, but about the company and chitchatting," said undergraduate Kailynn Lim, 21.
She and two other friends settled down at the boardwalk at 6pm, and had set up a picnic mat and prepared salads and snacks in preparation for the countdown.
On the western end of the island, a foam party on ice ensued at JCube's The Rink, while a line-up of community events kept the party spirit burning in the heartlands.