New Year’s celebrations with a bang

Posted On December 29, 2006

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MELBOURNE is to host its biggest New Year’s Eve party on Sunday night.

More than 450,000 revellers are expected to gather in the city to bring in the new year, smashing last year’s record of 400,000 people. Most people will congregate at six free City of Melbourne parties along the Yarra River, from the Swan St bridge to Waterfront City in Docklands.

Two fireworks displays are to light Melbourne’s skyline: a special family display at 9.15pm and the main fireworks spectacular at midnight. The City of Melbourne has spent $145,000 on the fireworks displays, which will both be accompanied by a contemporary Australian soundtrack.

People looking for the best views of the 9.15pm display should head to Alexandra Gardens, Birrarung Marr, NewQuay and Waterfront City. The midnight fireworks will be clearly seen from any of the six venues. Families going into Melbourne should head to the Alexandra Gardens from 5pm to 12.45am, where a variety of activities have been arranged. A masquerade theme has been set for Southgate, with roving performers to keep the crowds entertained.

Young music fans are being encouraged to get to Birrarung Marr, where a statewide Battle of the Bands competition will be held on the main stage. Film buffs will also be catered for with latest release films showing on the big screen at the grassed amphitheatre. At Federation Square, Melbourne funk outfit the Josh Owen Band will hit the stage before a Bollywood dance workshop. A Latin theme will keep NewQuay revellers entertained, while Waterfront City will host a mix of bands and entertainment.

Those looking to escape the city streets will be well catered for at dozens of pubs, restaurants and clubs across Melbourne. Hot places to be seen at include L2 GPO in Bourke St, Honkytonks in Duckboard Place, Eve in City Rd, South Melbourne, Boutique in Greville St, Prahran, and the Point on Albert Park Lake.

Some venues have already sold out, but most Melbourne venues will be selling tickets at the door. Police have warned revellers to celebrate safely in the city and not to drink in public places. Supt Mick Williams said police would have a strong presence in Melbourne’s CBD, as well as Lorne and Phillip Island. Several “chill out zones” will help police deal with intoxicated people in the city. Supt Williams said up to four zones would be established to allow people to seek treatment for fatigue or intoxication from trained staff.

Drink-driving, drug dealing and unruly behaviour will all be the targets on the night. Sniffer dogs will again patrol New Year’s Day dance party Summadaze at the Myer Music Bowl, with police vowing to catch anyone who tries to bring drugs into the party event.

Up to 25,000 people are expected at the event. Police will also be testing drivers for drugs and alcohol at booze and drug buses across the state. Motorists planning to attend music festivals at Lorne and Phillip Island have been told to prepare for heavy traffic. Tens of thousands of revellers are expected to head to the coastal towns.

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