Corks popped in Germany and across Europe on New Year’s against the colorful backdrop of fireworks. But violence plagued celebrations in some cities.
Spectators watch fireworks in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin
More than a million people gathered at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate to take part in Germany’s largest New Year's party. A fireworks show dazzled revelers for 12 minutes beginning at midnight, bringing a shower of color to the dark winter sky. According to police, the evenings festivities were peaceful and uneventful.
But things got a little rough in the eastern city of Leipzig, where several hundred rioters clashed with police, injuring 12 officers. The mostly young rioters attacked police with stones, bottles and fireworks, authorities said. At least 16 people were arrested in the meleés.
Large crowds in Paris, Rome
Violence also plagued celebrations In Paris. Close to 450,000 converged on the Champ Elysées to clink glasses and bring in the new year. Tourists from all over the world traveled to the city for the New Year’s revelry despite the bitter cold. But the city also reported that at least 40 arrests were made and at least 200 cars set on fire. Still, the city increased its police patrols and fared better this year than last, when 400 cars were burned. Further to the east, in the Alsatian city of Strasbourg where the bizarre phenomenon began, 22 cars were burned.
Italians rang in the new year with 200,000 people crowding the center of Rome for a massive fireworks display. Later in the morning, Pope John Paul 2 plead for world peace during his New Year’s service at the Vatican. In neighboring Greece, fireworks were fired above the ancient Acropolis, providing a magnificent stage for the pyrotechnical display.
Meanwhile, in London, public festivities were held under sharper than usual security, as Britain and the United States guarded against possible terrorist attacks. But that didn’t keep the 100,000 people who came to the city’s center from enjoying a short fireworks program above the spectacularly illuminated "Eye" ferris wheel on the southern bank for the Thames River. Additional events in the British capital took place at Trafalger and Leicester Squares and in front of Parliament, where Big Ben struck its massive bells to signal the start of 2004.