With the new year just around the corner, local governments throughout the country are busy preparing their New Year’s Eve countdown parties, including extending transportation service hours.
In Taipei City, the New Year’s Eve countdown party will ring in the new year with music and an extravagant fireworks show at Taipei 101 on Saturday night.
The annual year-end event, organized by the Taipei City Government, attracted more than 850,000 spectators last year for the six-hour show.
This year, the show in front of Taipei City Hall will feature numerous pop stars and celebrities, including rock band Mayday (五月天), Hong Kong pop group Grasshopper (草蜢) and entertainer Show Luo (羅志祥). Patty Hou (侯佩岑) and stand-up comedian team Plungon (浩角翔起) will emcee the event.
The renowned Taipei 101 fireworks show will feature a 202-second program using 30,000 fireworks that will be ignited to celebrate the arrival of the new year.
Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday said the annual event will for the first time be broadcast live for a global audience, with YouTube providing the live broadcasting service.
“Taipei’s New Year’s Eve countdown party is now a tradition for many and we are happy we can spend the last minute of 2011 and welcome the new year with everyone,” he said. “We are also confident that our traffic measures are sufficient and public transportation services will address any issues.”
Taipei Rapid Transportation Corp said all of Taipei’s mass rapid transit (MRT) lines will run for 42 hours continuously to handle the increased transportation needs, with services beginning in the early morning hours of Saturday and run every 2 minutes and 15 seconds.
During periods of maximum capacity, expected to begin at 7pm on Saturday, trains on the Blue Line will not stop at the Taipei City Hall MRT Station, the company said.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and first lady Chow Mei-ching (周美青) will join the crowd to welcome the coming of the new year.
Ma, who is seeking re-election on Jan. 14, will arrive at the countdown party at about 11:30pm.
Ma’s attendance at the party will mark his second visit to the city’s countdown event as president. He joined the crowd at last year’s party and drew criticism for the heightened security in the area upon his visit.
Ma’s re-election campaign office yesterday declined to comment on whether Ma’s visit would politicize the event, but it did say Ma would also attend countdown parties in Greater Tainan, Greater Taichung and Taoyuan to celebrate the new year with the public.
Countdown parties will be held in 20 other cities and counties nationwide. Information about the parties is available in Chinese on the Web site year.bluezz.tw.
Greater Kaohsiung’s MRT service will run until 3am.
Additional reporting by CNA