A dazzling 188-second display of fireworks was set to welcome the new year at Taipei 101 yesterday, consisting of a choreographed adaptation of The Firebird, the famous 1910 work by Russian composer Igor Stravinsky.
The annual New Year’s Eve countdown, which was attended by hundreds of thousands of revelers who braved the cold weather, was to be broadcast live globally, starting at 11:55pm, organizers said.
Revelers were already packing the square in front of Taipei City Hall yesterday evening to attend concerts headlined by pop diva Chang Hui-mei (張惠妹), also known as A-mei (阿妹), singer and TV host Harlem Yu (庾澄慶) and Aaron Kwok (郭富城) from Hong Kong. Several concerts were held nationwide, with Mayday leading the charge in Greater Kaohsiung.
The Taipei Mass Rapid Transit system reported increased passenger volumes from 7pm.
In a warm-up to the annual countdown party, three out of 10 wishes selected by the public for the major New Year Eve’s party were put up in lights on Taipei 101 from 5pm.
The tower was lit up with New Year wishes from its 78th to 81st floors from 5pm to 11pm and from 1am to 2am, the organizers said.
The wishes say: “Love, Prosperity, Happiness,” “Peaceful Taiwan, Happy Family” in Chinese and “I love you” in sign language.
A flag-raising ceremony was to be held in front of the Presidential Office this morning, followed by a performance by student groups, and a performance by the Armed Forces Honor Guard and the Armed Forces Joint Band.
The president was to host a commemoration ceremony to mark the 102nd anniversary of the founding of the Republic of China and host New Year visits by political figures in the Presidential Office.
Following the flag raising, there were to be other events, such as taiko drumming, dragon and lion dances, and a performance by the Taipei First Girl’s High School’s Marching Band. The flag-raising ceremony event was expected to conclude at 7:12am.
Meanwhile, the long-standing commercial rivalry between Taiwan and South Korea was highlighted with reports that South Korean electronics giant Samsung Electronics Co had offered NT$40 million (US$1.4 million) to light Taipei 101’s top stories with its name and logo after the fireworks display.
However, after widespread objections to selling the display to Samsung, the logo “Time for Taiwan” in English and Chinese was used. Taipei 101 spokesman Michael Liu (劉家豪) declined to say whether tourism authorities outbid Samsung.
However, Vice Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時), who oversees tourism, said a Samsung commercial “would be inappropriate under the current atmosphere.”