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Culture

Fireworks Frenzy

As the rush for sparklers and firecrackers begins, the German capital gears up for the biggest pyrotechnical party.

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Bang!

Nobody really wants to sit at home on New Year’s Eve, and if you don’t have tickets to a club, a gala event or a private bash, it’s not the end of the world. You can always hit the streets and join the gang of revellers high on spirits, including the alcoholic ones.

In Germany, it’s common to roam the streets and try to hop from one overflowing bar to another and crowd to watch some spectacular firework display at the stroke of midnight.

Watch out!

It’s also advisable to be on your guard for that rocket whizzing just centimetres away from your ear, and duck to narrowly avoid an empty champagne bottle from knocking you on the head! The night before the dawn of the new year, though one of the merriest, is certainly not one of the safest.

Making profits with bangs and thuds

But the fireworks industry throws caution to the winds and makes the most of the Germans’ need for celebrating with a "bang".

One of Germany’s most successful, but also shortest sales of firecrackers is on only for the last three days of the year. Only people above the age of 18 are allowed to buy them. For the next few days they'll be cleaning out shops in a rush to buy the biggest, best and the brightest in fancy fireworks for this year’s New Year celebrations.

According to the Fireworks Trade Association, Germany is expected to spend 100 million euro on fireworks this year. There is an obvious trend in this year‘ fireworks: Buyers expect a whole display in each single rocket and not just a short-lived flurry of sparks.

The German Fireworks Association has declared bangers as out and elaborate rockets as being in. But careful! Not only can fireworks be dangerous, they can be expensive too.Sparkling fire fountains, spinning suns and starry skies can cost up to a thousand euro per piece.

New systems this year include mini firework displays with stunning special effects.

The flip side of all the bangs and whistles and sparks is that insurance companies say firework damages will total 200 million euro.

Spectacular pyrotechnical Party

Meanwhile preperations are on in full swing for Germany’s biggest New Year party this year in the German capital. Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate is touted to be the venue of one of the world’s largest parties.

The victory column is being wrapped with protective material to prevent damage from the fireworks. Thousands of people are busy hammering away, as they erect stages and dance floors for the big night. The amount of explosives being assembled here would put the Al Qaeda to shame!

The ice bar in front of the famous Adlon hotel will be an obvious attraction at the mega party. People will also flood to the "Euro Pavilion" after midnight, to get their crisp euro notes and coins.

The event opens under the motto, "Welcome 2002 – Berlin Open End". About 1.2 million people are expected to join in the fun on the 2 kilometre long road linking the Brandenburg Gate to the Victory Column and Berlin's impressive cathedral.

2000 artists will perform on eight different stages and four disco tents in front of the Brandenburg Gate.

The evening's high point will be a 14-minute spectacle of fire and light. The theme this year is "Metropolis Berlin". It's timed to take place two hours before midnight. This is to ensure that the revellers can fully concentrate on the pyrotechnical show, before they get too drunk to appreciate it.

The firework show will be a reflection on the year almost gone by. Even Harry Potter will make an appearance among other elements.

And of course about 1,500 Berlin firemen will be on standby, ready with hoses and fire engines.